I slaughter song lyrics. Other people do constructive things, artistic things, perhaps even create their own beautiful music. Me? I do the Weird Al thing and mangle the works of others for my own entertainment. It’s not because I don’t like their songs. It’s not because I think I’m somehow improving upon their work or lack respect for them as artists. It’s not because I’m trying to pass off anyone’s work as my own.
Nope, I do it because it’s ingrained in me. Much like compulsive spoonerizing, I MUST mangle song lyrics. It quite literally hurts when I don’t. If I cannot change them, then I must make them utterly nonsensical. “Twenty-one Guns” becomes “Benny-bum Dungs.” “Spaceman” becomes “Facespam.” I can’t help it. Really. No doubt there’s a name for that out in the psychobabbl-y world. There’s a name for everything, isn’t there?
No, I don't think the name is "schizophrenia." Yes, I heard that.
I remember driving down the road (or passengering, actually), Scritch behind the wheel of her sorry little poop-brown Toyota Celica. It was a Celica, right? The year was 1986, and our boyfriends were stashed in the back seat . . . that’s telling, I know. I guess I just really didn’t want to be stuck in the back seat of a 1978 (?) Celica with some slacker git when I could be up front with my best friend, who was far better company. A song came on the radio, and she and I began to belt it out at the tops of our smoky lungs.
You remember the song—sing along! It went something like this:
And though I treated you like a child
I’m going to miss you for the rest of my life
All I need is a miracle
All I HAVE is YOU!
No, we actually didn’t notice the silence from the back seat. It was too quiet a silence to capture our collective attention, I guess.
Next song up? Another favorite of the day, and once again we opened our throats and let loose. Let’s see if you remember this beaut:
Oh, I—I just died in your arms tonight!
It must have been something you ATE!
The silence from behind became so deafening that we heard it over the flapping of the torn sidewall. Even Scritch, locked in a life-and-death struggle against a steering wheel determined to wrest control and send us careening into a river, noticed. We tried to explain that we’d made up those lyrics long, LONG before we’d met them. What? Oh, God, he's not CRYING, is he?
I think it comes from my Father, who taught me to say grace like so:
Rub-a-dub-dub, thank God for the grub
Two! Four! Six! Eight!
Who do we appreciate?
My Father, who set me up for utter humiliation at YMCA Camp by teaching me the following lyrics to “Amazing Grace”:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
A bulldog ran my Grandma down . . .
Yeah, I think I can blame Dad (though credit is due Scritch, who both indulged and conspired). I remember turning “I am Woman” into “I am Obese.” “It’s a Heartache” into “It’s a Hard-on.” “Uptown Girl” into “Uptown Squirrel.” And “Rock Me, Amadeus?” Well, that became either “Eat Me, I’m a Danish,” or “____ me, I’m a Dentist.”
I’m a Danish, I’m a Danish!
Eat me, I’m a Danish!
My crowning glory? Sorry, I can’t say here. This is a PG rated blog.
I wish I could say that I put effort into this. I wish I could I could say it takes a ton of work. But I don’t, and it doesn’t. This stuff rolls off my tongue with zero forethought. The song comes on, I open my mouth, and WHAMMO! New lyrics. Just like that. I couldn’t stop it if I tried.
My husband has become a fair hand at this, and we’ve dragged our son into this twisted compulsion. He loves it when we do it, and he’s trying his hand at a few himself. I’m not sure if I’m proud of him or horrified at myself for perpetuating this particular family tradition. We’ll see where it takes him. It’ll probably wind up in his book.