Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Lyrics Gift

This is what I have had in my head all day:

"Pat and KEN-ny,
Read Oprah TRAN-scripts."

How it got there I have no idea. Except M mentioned our friends Pat and Katie yesterday, so that may have done it. I think it would be a really funny to give them Oprah transcripts as a gift sometime, but not everyone watches The Late Show with David Letterman circa 2002, so I'm not sure this would go over well.

Anyway, it was a short leap from "Pat and Kenny" over to the "Will It Float" theme and now I am massively annoyed because I cannot for the life of me remember how "Hairpiece/Not a Hairpiece" goes. Every time I think I am close, "Pat and Kenny" swoop in and take over all available brain space. I have tried to replace this song with something else, but the only other tune that readily volunteers itself is that dumb McDonald's commercial with the parents who race each other with the Happy Meal. I don't really understand what's happening there -- I am usually playing sudoku while watching TV, so I always miss the beginning and therefore have no idea which of the parents bought the Happy Meal. I feel as though this is the missing link to understanding the ad's premise, and therefore I cannot root for one parent over the other. I also do not actually understand the lyrics to the jingle. I can tell some of it is French, but most of it just sounds like "Mooga-tee, mooga-tee." So this is what replaces "Pat and Kenny" when I get frustrated:

"Mooga-tee, mooga-tee
Mooga-tee, mooga-tee." (over and over, usually with shoulder movements)

OMG not even "Pat and Kenny" can save me now.

This is not the first time I have made up my own lyrics to make sense of a song I can't figure out. Only I usually just sing the syllables instead of making up actual words, so I don't make much more sense than just being quiet. The only exception is Elton John's full repertoire of songs-that-sound-nothing-like-their-lyrics. I know for a cold, hard, Google-researched fact that I am one of skillions of people who have mis-heard "Tiny Dancer." You read that right: skillions. More than zillions.) Until sophomore year of college, this is what I sang:

"Hold me close,
I'm tired of dancin'."

(This makes way more sense, actually. If you ignore the title.) Post-googling, I admitted defeat to my roommates who did not know the words either beyond the idea that I was wrong. To make me feel better, they related the story of one of our other friends, who was dead-set on the wrong lyrics to Rusted Root's "Send Me On My Way." To be fair, this is a very fast and poorly articulated song. But those are the only five words in the whole thing. Instead of "Send Me On My Way" over and over, A believed it was "Simeon The Whale." And she sang it that way. At the top of her lungs. At their concert.

This is why I usually go with matching up just the vowel sounds. Most of the time no one can tell that I have no clue what the lyrics are. This is my parlor trick. I can make it look like I know all the words to every song, when in fact I have NO IDEA. Not even new songs, and especially not old-school hip hop. The only songs I know in full are the ones that made it onto the "Hot 9 at 9" on B97 in 1992, which I used to secretly listen to after my bedtime. As a result, the only songs I know by heart are by Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton or Bryan Adams. I am awesome.

I have several song books from when I used to sing, as does M. And he has an Elton John book, which is like a treasure trove of lost words. Both of us also have more studious books of arias, and if I could sight-read, I could still sing from some of them. Luckily, M plays the piano and CAN sight-read, so these books are not a complete waste of space. While neither of us actually has a piano, he has a keyboard. Visions of real houses dance in our head, with a full piano nestled squarely in a high-ceilinged room.

When I was in Paris this summer, I found a bookstall selling sheet music. There were arias from all kinds of operas and composers, and at that moment I couldn't for the life of me remember who or which was M's favorite. So I picked mine. I know he likes Mozart and I LOVE Mozart, so I figured it wasn't much of a stretch. An aria from the Marriage of Figaro, to be exact. (Fun fact: in French, it's called Les Noces de Figaro and NOT Le Mariage de Figaro because the opera couldn't be named the same thing as the book it was based on. Les noces means the nuptials, or the social event of getting married.) The sheet music is handwritten and all the lyrics are in French, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to bring back from my trip.

I gave M the sheet music as part of his birthday present a few weeks later. I framed it in a "floating frame" -- one that has glass space on all sides of the picture and a large black frame to trim the edges. I told him it was to go above the piano we will own someday.

He will play and we both will sing. We might even do a "Pat and Kenny" duet.

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