4.27.2005

Thinning the Heard

It happened again.
How can I listen to a song for 30 years and never know I've gotten the lyrics wrong? Today's example is very minor compared to previous blunders. I'm singing along to "The Dana Owens Album." This is Queen Latifah's great jazz album from last year, which finds her crooning standards in velvety "Mama Morton" voice.
She's got a cover of "California Dreamin'" where she purrs:

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
And I got down on my knees
And I pretended to pray


I've been listening to this for months, and today I decided to write about Latifah's motivation for changing the line:

...got down on my knees and began to pray (Mamas and Paps version)

to:

...got down on my knees and pretended to pray (QL version)

Is this her comment on religion? She can't bring herself to show listeners she knows how to pray? If I'd had a guess, I'd have said she probably goes to church. It's baffling.

Of course, as everyone knows, "pretend to pray" is the line. Always has been. Sigh. I don't know if I can relearn this. I've belted it so many times incorrectly, it's definitely in the long-term-song-lyric-remembering part of my brain.

This lastest incident joins:

"Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul..." (Drift Away)
"Sunday Monkey want Trés Bien Ensemble" (Michelle)
"Are you reelin' in the eaves? Throwin' away the time? Are you gatherin' up the tea leaves?" (Reelin' In The Years)

There are others. These, though, represent words I truly, surely, positively knew were the correct words. Gathering tea leaves still makes perfect sense to me. Sunday Monkey doesn't, but it's the Beatles. I figured it was probably a drug reference.

Please add your own. Or check out this site*. Or both. I'm off to listen to Seizure Sisters. They rock.

*after looking at this site, I found someone else who heard "tea leaves." So there.

4 comments:

Daryl said...

You mean it's not "began to pray"? Oh man!

"California Dreaming" makes me think of Chungking Express.

And I still can't find closure on whether the chorus of "The Weight" is "Take a load off, Fanny" or "Take a load off, Annie". And I suspect different people covering the song have sung it differently.

Eric "Babe" Morse said...

Chungking Express is one of those movies that I haven't seen that keeps coming up... I guess I need to see it.

I say "Fanny." I think I sing it this way because I get to say "fanny."

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