Often times when I’m at work a song will come on, and usually everyone starts singing or humming along to it. I usually just “skat” the lyrics while putting things away on the shelves.
Its scary when you think of how many jobs you’ve had and the same songs keep following you from retail job to retail job. Recently I’ve come to the realization how often we take it for granted what is actually presented to us in the music pumped through the store’s speakers and how we automatically know the words.
Usually you will hear “Hotel California” a million times and wonder if your job has become your own version of the Eagles illustration of hell. Then you have some songs that remind you of happier times and some songs that remind you of when you were a kid.
However, last Winter I was working with some really cool people and we started talking about songs you misunderstood the lyrics to at one point in time or another; often called a Mondegreen. I kicked off the conversation with a song by the Clash.
I explained every time Rock the Casbah was played on the radio, I heard, “Rock the asphalt! Rock the asphalt!” Every time the song played, I relished in the thought of a rock band who was so cool, they had to hold their concerts on an asphalted playground because there wasn’t enough room in the gymnasium for those who wanted to hear them play. (As a kid, I associated “asphalt” with “playground” because of the recent construction of our middle school and how they designated playing boundaries.) What “dance-punk-rock” band wouldn’t want to have a rock concert on a school playground decorated by tether ball poles and four square outlines?
Another song frequently played in many places I’ve worked is by Sting; Every breath you take. When I was in grade-school and the song would come on the radio, I only half heartedly listened because Sting wasn’t the Monkees or any of my other favorite bands.
When it would play, I would hear, “I’m a pool hall ace, with every step you take…” As we all know, the lyrics actually are “my poor heart aches…” Here I am listening to the radio, thinking this guy is so lonely, he started hanging around pool halls perfecting his game. I had visions of some guy in a modernized version of a 50’s leather biker coat, aviator glasses, possibly with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth; sipping a green bottled beer while playing pool by himself. I imagined he was so good, no one wanted to play pool with him any more. By the end of the song, I was rooting for the woman who deserted him. Who wants to date someone who hangs out at seedy bars and hustles people out of their hard-earned money?
Sadly one day in my twenties someone burst that bubble with the actual lyrics.
After the co-workers and I had our go around game of Mondegreens it was time to clock out, say good-bye and start another day in the morning…hopefully with new Mondegreens.
What songs do you often mis-hear? What were some of your favorites? What do you and your co-workers do to pass the time?