‘Iz’ apparently OK to mangle lyrics

Friday, September 30, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 39

Arlen and Harburg version, Wizard of Oz version:

"Somewhere over the rainbow way up high,
there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,
and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

"Someday I’ll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
way above the chimney tops – that’s where you’ll find me.

"Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I?"

Iz’s version from 1993:

"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
and the dreams that you dream of once in a lullaby.
Oh, somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly,
and the dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true.

"Someday I’ll wish upon a star,
wake up where the clouds are far behind me,
where trouble melts like lemon drops,
high above the chimney top, that’s where you’ll find me.

"Oh, somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly,
and the dreams that you dare to, oh why, oh why can’t I?"

The columns on mondegreens and incorrectly sung lyrics generated viewer mail.

Randy Hyde writes: “I was in college before I realized I didn’t put my clothes in a chester drawers.”

Victra Fewell cites the line from How Much Is That Doggy in the Window about robbers “with flashlights that shine in the dark.” Her little sister was convinced the robbers had “fresh legs that shine in the dark.”

And then there is the hymn with lyrics that can easily be heard as “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me that I am his own.”

As a child, during the holidays, Lynn Lisk anticipated singing about Mark and Harold singing. As in “Mark and Harold, the angels, sing/ Glory to the newborn king.”

And of course the next line of the above referenced carol is “Peas on earth and mercy my old …” I always wondered why that phrase stopped in the middle. My old what? My old peas, perhaps?

My sister taught me that the last words of a certain song were “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily/ Life is butter bean.”

I almost went to blows with a kid in my first grade class who said it was “Life is butter dream.” That makes no sense, I argued, as though my rendition did.

As reported by Gavin Edwards, author of books full of mondegreens, at least one person “led the pigeons to the flag of the United States of America.”

Gavin’s friend Alma thought the title to Billy Idol’s Eyes Without a Face was “I supply the fish.”

Ben Sissman asks if Dylan’s “changing his own lyrics from rendition to rendition” counts as mis-sung lyrics.

Hugh J. Moore Jr., notes that in the original recording of (She’s Got the) Devil In Her Heart by The Donays, there’s the lyric “No, not me will he deceive.” The Beatles clearly sang this as “No, no, nay will she deceive.”

I’ve been asked to clarify my statement that Iz [Israel Kamakawiwo’ole] blew the lyrics of Over the Rainbow. Here goes:

Composed by Arlen and Harburg specifically for The Wizard of Oz, this ballad became Judy Garland’s signature song and was covered by dozens, maybe hundreds, of artists, all of whom sang pretty much these lyrics, which I am printing in prose form (see info box).

Don’t misunderstand me. Iz’s cover had a poignancy and passion that propelled it to Platinum in this country, to say nothing of the song reaching No. 1 in France and Germany just last year!

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.