Wednesday 13 September 2017

Hey Mr Tangerine Man

The death of Glen Campbell reminded me of misheard and misunderstood words from my childhood ... I didn't follow his career but I thought the words '...I'm a lineman for the county...'were beautifully sung. He had a special singing voice but when I first heard these words I thought a 'lineman' was a cowboy-like figure who paraded up and down county borders in the States with a rifle - defending the county line. It was only as an adult that I realised a 'lineman' was to be seen up telegraph poles - fixing the phone lines. ( I was only very young in the 1960s!)

Has anyone else ever spent years pondering lyrics to songs only to find they'd misheard them from the outset?

Bob Dylan's 'Hey Mr Tambourine Man...' came - to my uncultured ears - as 'Hey Mr Tangerine Man' and I thought the great Bob was either bright orange or he was singing about a fruit seller! Again it took a little while before I realised why Bob wanted him ' play a little song for me...'

The phrase 'Gordon Bennett' was somewhat overused in our street - I felt - as I was sure it referred to Mr Bennett who lived at number one - we were number eight. Mr Bennett seemed to crop up in many conversations. Again it took me a few years before I realised ' Gordon Bennett' didn't refer to our neighbour, it couldn't have done, his name was Chris and my father taught him.

Tom Jones' 'Green, green grass of home' proved similarly difficult for my young ears. I couldn't quite understand '...her golden lips like cherries...' How so? Cherries aren't gold! Only when listening very carefully did I hear the actual words '... Hair of gold and lips like cherries...' And I never have quite got the gist of 'abhoring the virgin's womb...' in church.  How do you abhore a womb? Anyone?

Even when Dusty sang '...You don't have to stay forever, just be close at hand...' I misheard it - for years - as '... You don't have to stay forever just because of that...' I never knew what 'that' was ... and why wasn't he having to stay - or not stay - forever - just because of ...what? Perhaps I've had unresolved hearing difficulties since childhood?

Now I'm older I know I suffer from simply not hearing things properly. 'University Challenge' is becoming gobbledegook ... My scores are going down ... I'm simply not hearing the questions correctly. Well that's one reason I can't answer them.

 Must get my ears looked at.