Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chronic Lyricosis: 2+2=5 by Radiohead

I believe it was George Carlin who came up with the concept of chronic lyricosis...that is, hearing a song's lyrics incorrectly. We've heard the classic examples: "Hold me closer, Tony Danza" and "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy."

We here at HSW like to delve a bit deeper into our respective back catalogs, and go beyond classic rock staples. So let's think of some of our own more esoteric examples, those that fall within our area of expertise. Not that Stairway and Freebird aren't worth of being misinterpreted.

While I am no stranger to the symptoms of CL, he first lyric that stands out as oft-misinterpreted comes from Radiohead's "2+2=5", the fantastic Hail to the Thief album opener:
Actual Lyric:
"You have not been
Paying attention
Paying attention
Paying attention"...etc.

As I heard it:
"You have now been
penetration
penetration
penetration"...etc.
Go figure. The only song I can think of that actually uses the word penetrate is "Dig a Pony" by the Beatles, which is one of their best songs but, man, whenever I hear Lennon say 'penetrate' with such gusto, I chuckle a bit.

Your examples?

2 comments:

Drew said...

Misinterpreted songs by friends that they will never live down.

311's "Loco"

Correct: "Trip the shrooms fantastic, shit gets drastic.."

Incorrect: "Trip the shrooms fantastic, chicken baskets"

Collective Soul's "The World I Know"

Correct: "Cause it's the world I know..The world I know."

Incorrect: "Cause it's the one-eyed girl..The one-eyed girl."

Related

Two quotes from one friend:

"Hey, do y'all know that song "Iron Man" by Iron Maiden?"

"You know that rap song by that black guy?"

Thomas said...

While my answer will never match Drew's, one of my most recent spells of CL comes from Dredg's song "Spitshine"

the lyrics are:

You spit-shined my corroded halo...

and I always thought Gavin was singing...

You spit-shined like a loaded arrow...

My interpretation doesn't make any sense, but the lyrics make much more sense when heard correctly.