Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Sing, Sing a Song..."

You know how years and years of your life can go by and then, without warning, a friend, an enemy or the busboy at El Jardin...

...You know, the one who followed you into the men's room, shoved you against the sink and copped several feels while kissing you deeply and saying over and over, "Oh, Papi! You are my man!" Yeah, that one. He looked like this didn't he?...

...or just some complete stranger will hear you singing one of your favorite songs and start to uncontrollably laugh AT you because you've been singing the WRONG LYRICS for years! Ridiculously wrong. You created lyrics in your head that make no logical sense to anyone but you. It's the lyrical equivalent of Sarah Palin seeing Russia from her house. No seriously, some of the lyrics we hear in our heads are as outrageously bizarre as that Alaskan nut job's living room view of the Kremlin.

I'm not talking about someone singing "Summertime WHEN the livin' is easy" instead of "AND the livin' is easy." That is a travesty, but I'm not talking about that. For now, anyway.

No, I'm talking about supremely mangled lyrics. Like a certain friend of mine who believed FOR YEARS that, in the film version of Grease, "You're the One That I Want" begins with John Travolta singing...

"I've got shoes! They're made of plywood!"

Yeah. How her brain created plywood shoes out of Danny Zuko's "chills" that were "multiplyin'" is beyond me, but those are the lyrics she heard. And sang. For years. Until someone stupidly corrected her. Why "stupidly?" Come on...

After more than two decades of hearing John Travolta brag to Olivia Newton-John about his thin, wooden footwear, having someone tell you that Danny is simply telling Sandy that he's overly excited to see her is the mental equivalent of an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist - - very shocking and yet, incredibly lame all at once.

The lyrics that I bastardized make a bit more logical sense. If you take into account that I was very young, living in a part of the country where NO ONE spoke Spanish, much less sang in Spanish, and that my father had a very good friend by the name of Bobby Dodd.

I'm not sure how it all came together in my 9 year old head, but in December of '79, I kept hearing people talk about the hostages in Iran. And I guess I hadn't seen Bobby Dodd for a few weeks, so naturally, I assumed he was being held hostage in Iran. Yeah...

Well, truth be told, I might have seen Bobby Dodd on the same day that I heard this particular song, but when the radio started playing José Feliciano's song, Feliz Navidad, I thought it was an impassioned protest song that demanded the release of one of Iran's hostages. The Tennesseean. Who somehow knew José Feliciano well enough so that José was begging for his friend's life in a song. A song that repeated one key phrase over and over again...

"Release Bobby Dodd!
Release Bobby Dodd!"

Now, why José would write a song asking for the release of just ONE of the hostages in Iran never occured to me. Did José plan on writing a song for each of the hostages? Would he only release Hostage #2's song after the Iranians released Bobby Dodd? Or did he only care about Bobby and once Mr. Dodd was out of Iran, he would hang up his guitar and let the other hostages fend for themselves? Petty details that never entered my mind.

Also, I didn't think it was at all odd or musically jarring that, after demanding that the Iranians release Bobby Dodd, José's song suddenly and awkwardly shifts into a jaunty chorus of...

"I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!
I want to wish you a Merry Christmas
From the BOTTOM OF MY HEART!"

I'm not sure who finally told me that José Feliciano hadn't written this song to help free my father's friend, but to this day, whenever Feliz Navidad is played during the holidays, the members of my family sing for the release of Bobby Dodd. They're the wrong lyrics. They're our lyrics. They make absolutely no sense and we're proud of that!

That's what being Southern is all about.

And while I don't have a video of me singing my lyrics to this song, Scooter at Scootersville posted this version of "Bette Davis" singing Feliz Navidad and it is almost better than my "Bobby Dodd" version. Almost.



12 comments:

Aaron said...

I'd heard the MP3 of that before, but I'd never seen the video--thanks for that! For some reason, it reminds me of what Marianne Faithfull would sound like singing drunk karaoke...

When I first heard that song, I was much younger than 10...and I thought he was saying "Felice Novidott," and I thought of my Aunt Dottie.

And then, when I first heard Dottie West sing with Kenny Rogers, I had to rethink my association with that song.

It's no wonder I'm hopelessly confused now...

the hobbit said...

My darling little AlternaChef thought the words were:

"Relase Mommy Duck".

I bet the two of you were such cute kids.

Kevin said...

I almost couldn't read this post because the phrase "Ay Papi" kills ALL interest with me. Immediately. Not sure what it is, but it does.

However, I'm glad I did because it was great. And to come clean, I always thought it was "She's a brick! Yow!" Years later my ex laughed at me, telling me "It's 'brick house' dumbass."

Ah well. The mind hears what it wants to hear.

Polt said...

Wow, who knew somebody could sing that song worse than me? And that that somebody would be a famous and an actress and all.

But I always thought Jimi Hendrix was saying, "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy." It lowered my opinion of him when I found out that's not really what he was singing.

HUGS...

Scooter said...

"You wouldn't sing this to me if I weren't in this wheelchair..."

Java said...

I like your lyrics to the song much better than Jose Feliciano's. Isn't it amazing what we DON'T think about as kids? Like why Jose would wish me a Merry Christmas after asking that Bobby Dodd be released?

Is that "the faith of a child" I hear so much about?

Bunny said...

A rock DJ at a station in Michigan talked one day about why he couldn't stand John Denver - because he wrote that song about hillbilly incest. You know, the one where he sings about "mounting Mama."

Sad thing is, he really, truly had always thought that was the lyric.

anatomicsd said...

You wouldn't believe the way I can misinterpret a Prince song. I thought Nikki started to "whine" for the longest time.

Mark in DE said...

I heard this performed LIVE by Jimmy James at a PFLAG fundraiser several years ago, and nearly wet my pants! Thanks for the reminder of a good time.

Mark :-)

just me said...

LMAO, beautiful, just beautiful. Now everytime I hear that song, I'll be thinking of good ole Bobby Dodd, God love him.

You must write a book someday. You took me back to a time when I was a kid and adults never made any sense at all, but they were fascinating to listen to, all the same.

Michael said...

Song: Love Potion #9
What I heard: Love Potion of a Nun.

I was sooooo confused.....why the hell would a nun have a love potion?

Bea said...

remember Alanis Morisettes song Ironic? There is a line "It's like a death row pardon, two minutes too late" that I always thought was "It's like a death row hard-on, two minutes too late"

I also thought the oldy song "Good Lovin'" was "Doodle Love"