Thursday, May 24, 2012

Incorrect Lyrics.

There is a most wonderful musician named Josh Ritter.  Alternative.  A little alt-country at times, maybe.  And I am sure that he's been around for awhile and those that are in the know have loved him for a long time.  I, however, did not know about him until one of his songs was used to conclude an episode of Bored to Death.  It was instant love.  (The song in question was "Dark Shadows.")  I downloaded iTunes Essential songlist, adn I've loved it.  I must say, while it was pretty perplexing that the NFL chose to use his "Change of Time" to promote the 2011 football season, it was still pretty nice to hear the song on the tv during commercial breaks.

Part of what makes these songs so fantastic are the lyrics.  Ritter is wonderful with words.  (And I am nothing if not a sucker for a man who is wonderful with words.)  Somehow, though, I have discovered a few instances where I've heard lyrics incorrectly the first few times around, and I've actually preferred my mistakes over the actual words.  I think my versions give the songs a sweeter notion.  Most likely, I am simply making these songs fit me a little more closely,  but I like them better all the same with my alterations.

In "Right Moves" the lyric is "Am I giving you the right moves?  Am I singing you the right blues?  Is there a time when I can call you, just to see how you are doing?"  But I like it much more with the second line as "Am I sending you the right clues?"  I like to think of this song as one about a couple that keeps missing opportunities to be together because of timing.  I don't want them to have hurt the other in some former stage of a relationship.  I don't want for him to have pined away for her, thinking that she'd never return and fearing a renewed relationship with her as much as he is looking forward to it.  If he refers to the right moves and the right clues, then it's a song of remembrance.  Do you recall when I used to drive you wild with this?  Does it still work?  Can you see how I never forgot?  Can you see that my body never stopped wanting to be with yours?  For me, it's a much more romantic, much less forlorn song with a single line in the chorus changed.

And then there is "Bright Smile."

The actual lyrics are:

Now my work is done
I feel I'm owed some joy
Oh Imogene and Abelard
I'm your homeward boy
But there's another one
Who brings me to your door
And the boat she weaved from the tidal reeds
Was always tied to shore

With bright smiles and dark eyes
Bright smile dark eyes
Everywhere I went, oh
I was always looking for ya
Bright smile dark eyes

It's a really lovely song about a search for a girl who has always been his to find.  And though the names in the first stanza are Imogene and Abelard, I like to hear Elosia and Abelard.  Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Can't I forget you so I can move on?  Can't I be rid of your presence?  He's heading home, but it's not for them.  It's for the girl he loves. I also assume it has to do with Tennyson's Lady of Shallott -- the notion of being so intense a force that all else is forgotten, just for the chance to be together.

 The real intent of the song?  I don't know.  Who ever really knows a poet's intent?  A song writer's intent?  Anyone who is an artist has a very specific intent when they create their work.  Maybe other people hit the nail on the head when they regard it, maybe they don't.

But this is what I like to hear.  It alters the songs to suit me.  If Ritter's going to appeal to me so much, I may as well really make him mine.

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