Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Some Song Factlets


Whilst driving with Kate with the radio, “Blinded By the Light” came on, which in turn touched off a discussion about the lyric “wrapped up like a douche”. It is a mondegreen, the term coined for misheard lyrics. The term originated in 1954 with writer Sylvia Wright, who commented that she had always thought the lines from a 17th century ballad were “They hae slain the Earl O' Moray, and Lady Mondegreen”, when correctly it was “They hae slain the Earl O' Moray and laid him on the green”. “Wrapped up like a douche” is correctly “revved up like a deuce”, but the V sound in "revved" is almost unpronounced, and the S sound in "deuce" comes across as "SH" due to a significant lisp of the recording artists, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Writer of the song Bruce Springsteen originally wrote the line as “cut loose like a deuce”, the deuce referred to being a 1932 Ford hot rod, as in “little deuce coupe”. Springsteen wrote the song by locking himself in his bedroom with a rhyming dictionary. According to him “The rhyming dictionary was on fire.”


While dealing with lyrics, how about the meaning of colitis in the Eagles’ "Hotel California": “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitis rising up through the air." Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine. One commentator has mentioned that the above lyric should not be confused with the Beatles’ lyric “The girl with colitis goes by.” In Hotel California, the word is actually “colitas”, being a Spanish word that means literally, "little tails", which in the context of the song is a reference to 'colas,' the tip of a marijuana branch, where it is more potent and with more sap (said to be the best part of the leaves). The Eagles’ manager has confirmed that the word 'colitas' was translated for them by their Mexican-American road manager as 'little buds.' 


The terms “rock” and “roll” were used in the 1920’s by black people to mean partying, carrying on, and/or having sex. “Shaking” was a similar expression, hence the sexual innuendo in Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shaking Goin’ On” in 1957. By the 1930’s the terms came to mean music with a particular beat, the words being used in both the song titles and in the lyrics. Wynonie Harris’s 1948 record "Good Rockin' Tonight" hit No 1, was followed by other hit rock songs.  

By 1952 radio DJ Alan Freed became aware of the large sales of rhythm and blues records to white teenagers. He changed the name of his popular music show from "Record Rendezvous" to "Moon Dog's Rock 'n' Roll House Party" and began playing R&B tunes, changing the description from R&B to “rock ‘n’ roll” to appeal more to a white audience, although he was one of the first to highlight music by black artists to white audiences.  Today he is credited with having popularised the term "rock and roll". Sadly his career ended with the payola scandal.  He died in 1965 with problems associated with alcoholism.

Bill Haley and the Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954, its use in “Blackboard Jungle” boosting its status as a teen anthem generally credited with making rock 'n' roll a worldwide phenomenon. Today Elvis’s 1954 recording of “That’s All Right, Mama” is, however, considered by many to be the start of the modern rock ’n’ roll era.

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