Last week Dave turned on the TV, and then called me over. “Look!” he exclaimed, pointing at the screen. The Monkees were on, and he knows I just love them. I grinned and sat on the arm of the couch to see what song was coming up. As the song started, I recognized it right away.
“Oh my God, it’s ‘Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow’! I’ve had that song stuck in my head for weeks!” The coincidence was just so strange – this song has seriously been popping into my head at random times over the past month. Davy sings it, and it’s about having to choose between two different girls. (I know, first world problems and all that.) The thing is, this episode was captioned. I’ve been watching the Monkees since I was four or five years old, but it’s been years since I’ve seen an episode and they definitely weren’t captioned the last time I watched.
The lyrics to the song scrolled across the screen. “I see all kinds of sorrow, wish I only loved one…look out, here comes tomorrow, oh how I wish tomorrow would never come.” And I turned to Dave and said, “Well, it figures…I’ve been singing this song wrong all these years. I always thought the lyrics were ‘I’ll feel all kinds of sorrow if I choose the wrong one’.” I mean, we’re talking about me SINGING those lyrics at Monkees concerts, folks. Urgh.
I could tell when I was watching the screen that Davy’s lips weren’t moving the right way for the lyrics I thought he was singing, and when I glanced down at the captions it confirmed it. This brought back a lot of memories, especially from high school. Back in MY day, there was no internet and very few of the albums (and I do mean albums, not CDs, which didn’t exist) had lyrics on the album sleeve. I used to be so excited when I pulled an album out and saw either an insert with lyrics or lyrics printed on the sleeve. Otherwise, it meant that I pulled up a chair next to my stereo speakers and replayed the song over and over, writing down what I thought I heard.
I used to do this a lot with my friend Kristie, who had perfect hearing. Even hearing people have trouble with lyrics sometimes! It always helped to have a better ear when trying to decipher lyrics; I can remember us spending hours listening to Tom Petty and, yes, the Monkees as we worked on figuring out what they were singing. (There was also a lot of laughter over some of the nonsensical things we came up with!)
It’s a completely different experience for me to listen to a song where I really know what’s being said. Everything comes together; otherwise I find myself just listening to the music and the beat and kind of mumbling along. This is okay with dance music – I confess, I pretty much never knew anything being sung on the New Order albums I listened to – but generally I really like knowing the lyrics, and they mean a lot to me.
If I had the lyrics, I’d read them while I listened to the song, over and over, until I had them memorized. It wasn’t like I could glance at them and think Oh, okay, I get the gist of it…now it will make sense when I hear it. I still couldn’t understand what was being said if I didn’t have that lyric memorized. Yes, I spent a lot of time listening to music as a teenager and young adult!
I don’t listen to new music much now – I don’t have the free time to sit with a CD and the lyrics and really get to know the songs the way I used to, so if I listen to music it tends to be songs I remember from years back. The last CD I can remember really working on to memorize songs was Playing the Angel by Depeche Mode, back in 2006. I took Eric to the concert when they came to town, and although I knew all their earlier stuff by heart, I wanted to be sure I really knew the songs off the newest album since that was the reason for their tour. We had such a good time together at that concert but good grief, it was SO expensive! I remember getting tickets to see great bands for about $15 back in the 80s, maybe a couple bucks to park, $10 for a t-shirt. By the time all was said and done, we spent over $200 on that concert (just for tickets and parking…I think I might have bought Eric a t-shirt, I can’t remember).
Anyway, it’s pretty awesome to finally have song lyrics at my fingertips, thanks to the internet. I mean, there is no way I would ever understand what the Beatles were singing during ‘Come Together’ otherwise. Toe jam football, indeed!