Won’t Do What?

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Over on the Wedding Bee forums there was a discussion that came up about the well-known Meat Loaf song: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That). Exactly what, the poster wondered, wasn’t he going to do?!

Well, I happen to be a pretty big fan of the Loaf’s work, especially his collaboration with Jim Steinman on the Bat Out of Hell Trilogy which is where we get this sweeping production of a 12 minute (album edit) song.

So I thought it would be fun to figure out exactly what is it the singer isn’t going to do. (Oh, like you haven’t had those days where you spend a few hours idly contemplating the meaning of song lyrics. We can’t all be striving for the Nobel prize with every waking thought, can we?)

Just from a careful listen to the lyrics we find out he specifically will not

      1. forget the way you feel right now
      2. forgive himself if they don’t go all the way tonight
      3. do it better than he did it with you
      4. stop dreaming of you every night of his life
      5. treat you like a fling and move on
      6. screw around on you
Not a bad list of don’ts for any dude, come to think of it.

Those sorts of things also remind me of another song, one more on the tell end of the show don’t tell theory of wordplay.

Yes, I just Rick-rolled you. But not at all sneakily, so I don’t think it really counts. Remember, there was a time when we thought this song was good without it being a meme!

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


What song did you just never “get”?

What I Really Meant to Say

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When we rely on our ears, sometimes the meanings aren’t clear…

You’ve heard of mondegreens, right? So named by writer Sylvia Wright, they are what happens when we hear something completely different in a song lyric.

Possibly the most famous ones are “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” which was really “while I kiss the sky” (Jimmi Hendrix, Purple Haze) and “There’s a bathroom on the right” for “bad moon on the rise” (Credence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising).

But my favorite is fairly unique (or so I think). Mom was a child in the 50s and 60s and had an older sister, my aunt, who liked to listen to the girl groups and Doo Wop of the day. From her sister’s room came the sound of the Moonstone’s “The Book of Love”

Now that iconic part? Oh I Wonder Who-o-o-o, Who wrote the book of love? Well, my mother, bless her heart, heard “Who milked the moo cow now.”

This, of course, has been the source of many a giggle in our family because, of course, all children play the game of let’s laugh at Mom (or Dad) from time to time. One particular instance happened at work when I was programming our new phone system (we work together) at her desk (because she has the Master Phone–sounds like some trippy Dr Who character). She was actually singing a different song (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”–probably because I’d said “shoot” to the phone or something, there’s no telling, really), absolutely slaughtering the chorus (I’ve actually blocked it the murder was so bad) when I corrected her (it’s a gift, folks, honest). She thought it was terribly funny and, of course, brought up “moo cow now” and that was it. We were in absolute hysterics by the time the next person walked through the door.

Luckily it was a coworker. It probably says something about our office that Mom and I laughing so hard we’re in tears is not a shocking sight.

Any mondegreens in your family’s song closet?

Words Get in the Way

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As much fun as nonsense lyrics and silly songs are when we’re kids, there comes a time when the words have to start making sense. Think about this sweet little French song Mom taught me:

In case it’s not clear from that cute little video, the song is about plucking the feathers from a skylark. First from his head, then from his beak, neck, wings, back, legs and, finally, tail. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether beaks or feet have feathers and acknowledging that this song is often used as a tool to teach small children names of body parts that they are supposed to point to when named, you gotta admit: it’s a little twisted.

I’m also reminded of the tune that goes “squishing up a baby bumble-bee”–eek!

Words have power. Were I a parent would I teach these songs to my kid knowing their not-so-cheery back-story? Tough call, but I’d definitely think twice about it.

Even still, I tend to be pretty eclectic with the music I listen to, only switching off a song if I find the lyrics truly “out there.” There is one song I will always turn off, no matter what, because it creeps me out to no end: Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.” It was in heavy rotation during a particularly rough year of my childhood and the lyrics are disturbing when taken in personal context.

What about you: Any song you just can’t stand? Why? Any kid’s song you’re re-thinking? Remember we’re talking lyrics and share it in the comments.