Dec 212020

Like some others here (? [“Indeed,” says Mr Moderator]), Get Happy!! is my favorite Elvis Costello album, and “Men Called Uncle” is my favorite track from that.

For the longest time I thought the opening line was

Now there’s lip prints all over your face
Well maybe that’s why I can read you like a book

I thought it was possibly “kiss prints” which would give a similar meaning but that’s not really a phrase you hear.

What a disappointment when I learned that it was actually “newsprint”. Could that actually be it?

Really, isn’t “lip prints” far better?

I’m looking for a little love in this but also looking for other misheard lyrics that you think are better than the actual.

But don’t turn this into an exercise in mondegreens. No “There’s a bathroom on the right” allowed.

I couldn’t find a good live video of EC on this song but was pleased to find a Robbie Fulks cover (from a show where he apparently covered the whole album).


  7 Responses to “I Like My Lyric Better”

  1. I’ve probably shared this in other threads over the years, but I think “Making love to his eagle,” in David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” would have been a more gripping lyric than the actual “Making love to his ego.” I find the use of the word “ego” in a song to be a bit of a drag. It’s too clinical, leaves nothing to the imagination. Thank god for whoever convinced Brian Wilson to change “Hang Onto Your Ego” to “I Know There’s an Answer.”

    Also, I forget what Stevie Nicks is actually singing on the execrable “Edge of Seventeen,” but “Tears like a one-winged dove” SHOULD be the actual lyric. My lyric drives home how bad that song actually is.

  2. This reminded me to search on YT for a video I happened across (good lord) nearly 40 years ago now, Billy Joel talking about songwriting on MTV. The late Sir William Joel of Long Islandington doesn’t come close to making my Top 25 favorite artists, but I did like where he talks about liking his own misheard lyrics better than the original artist’s actual lyrics:

  3. BigSteve

    I’m tempted to agree with Mod about the use of the word ego in a song, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joni Mitchell in the song Coyote. Here is the version from The Last Waltz:

    I think she gets away with it by going big:

    I tried to run away myself
    To run away and wrestle with my EGO

    Hard and fast rules in music are hard to enforce.

  4. Mod, I don’t think I knew the words to that Stevie Nicks’ song until a year or two ago. I thought it was something like “Just like the ones they know”. My version is not great but I think I still like it better than “white winged dove.”

  5. misterioso

    I guess I may as well step in here and say that I think “Edge of Seventeen” is kind of great and have always thought so. I am no fan of Nicks’ solo work but I think “Edge” is completely original (even if the guitar is lifted from “Bring on the Night,” which I’d never realized until very recently) and compelling, whatever it might be about.

  6. cherguevara

    Mr. Mod said:
    Thank god for whoever convinced Brian Wilson to change “Hang Onto Your Ego” to “I Know There’s an Answer.”

    That would be Mike Love. You just thanked God for Mike Love. 2020 continues! I recently finished reading “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by Charles “Chuck” Granata, which tells the story of the making of Pet Sounds, including the roles and influence of various people in Brian Wilson’s circle. It was a pretty good (and easy) read. I think I mentioned the author’s Frank Sinatra book, which made a big impression on me and am glad to recommend again. One of the best things in that book was an engineer who worked at Capitol in the 1950’s using the word “microphone” as a past-tense verb: “I microphoned the band.” I find this to be a fantastic liberation from the awkward “mic’d” or “miced” or “miked” or whatever it should be. Microphone as a verb is one of the better things to come my way this year. It makes perfect sense, but I’d not seen the word used that way.

    And then he said:
    Also, I forget what Stevie Nicks is actually singing on the execrable “Edge of Seventeen,”

    Supposedly the story here was that Nicks was in a conversation with Tom Petty’s wife, who had a thick Southern accent and was talking about somebody being the “age of seventeen,” which Nicks misheard as “Edge of seventeen.”

    Then there’s the Wings song, “Hi Hi Hi” which has the lyric “get you ready for my polygon,” which many people misheard as “get you ready for my body gun,” including the BBC who used it as one of their justifications for banning the song.

    As for me, the Eric B and Rakim song “It Takes Two” has the lyric, “I’m not internationally known but I’m known to rock a microphone” which for a long time I thought was, “but I’m known throughout the microphone,” which makes no sense but I liked the idea of being known throughout a microphone.

  7. Good stuff, cher, and I forgot that Mike Love gets credit for calling bullshit on Brian Wilson on that song: 2020…the year that keeps giving.

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