Mondays with Mike: Words and music

November 13, 2017 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike by

A couple weeks ago Beth and I sat at the bar at a little place across the street called Kasey’s. It’s one of a handful of Hackney’s surrogates we patronize—on nights when it’s not too crowded (and loud).

A catchy song was playing—can’t remember if it was the jukebox or the bartender’s playlist—I think the latter. It has a really hooky, funky, bluesy beat and a whiff of Motown. I initially thought the vocalist was female but I learned later it’s actually a guy with a solid falsetto, alternating with a female backup. I also learned the name of the band was Portugal. the Man, out of Portland, Oregon. I also learned the title: “Feel It Still.”

As we listened, Beth and I tried to make out the lyrics, particularly the first words of the chorus. I couldn’t make anything of it. Beth came up with her final guess:

Ooh, ooh, I’m a devil with a kickstand.

I knew most assuredly this was wrong. If you’ve been around Beth long enough, you know she has a way with words. Many ways, actually. She’s a great writer, as you know. But what you might not know is that, in conversation, she has a Norm Crosby way of mixing up familiar sayings and famous people’s names. She’ll say something like, “Patti Capone is a fantastic Broadway performer.” It’ll be just close enough that it’ll take a few seconds and you get this little pain in your head and you say, “Wait a minute, you mean…”. And then you stop, but it’s so close to the real thing that you have to squint and mentally dig and finally, “Patti LuPone, right?”

“Yeah, her,” Beth would say, impatiently, suggesting that I should know what she meant.

Anyway, back to “Feel it Still”—the actual lyric is:

Ooh, ooh I’m a rebel just for kicks, now

You can check out a live performance here.

I kinda like devil with a kickstand better, and it’s fun to imagine the music video that lyric would’ve produced. In that vein, I always go all Weird Al Yankovic when I hear Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”—I reflexively sing, She’s a black Magic Marker, and then build inane lyrics around it. I just can’t help myself.

In fairness to Beth, I think lots of us routinely get song lyrics comically wrong. The first time I saw the title “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” in print, without ever having heard the song, I assumed it was about a beauty pageant winner.

Back in high school, my best friend Jimmy had a special propensity for getting lyrics wrong and singing them out loud, enthusiastically, as we drove around with the car radio on.

Hence, during Elton John’s hay days of radio hits, you could hear Jimmy belting out, “On the bridge, on the bridge, oh the bridge is back.”



Mel Theobald On November 13, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Mike, sounds to me like Beth has a bad case of “Merzy Dotz and Little Lamsey Divy”. I was about 30 years old when I finally figured out what that was all about. And a lot of other things, too. Let’s not give up on her, yet. I think she has a promising career ahead of her as a wordsmith.

mknezo2014 On November 14, 2017 at 11:14 am

Yes she does, Mel. It’s funny, because the Merzy Dotz thing only happen in conversation, not paper.

Mom would send me to the store with a shopping list. She had written Swan Soap. After a lengthy search, I returned home and questioned Flo. She giggled, “Oh I meant Dove Soap”.....Flois On November 14, 2017 at 9:03 am

We call these “Floisms”…think it’s genetic. Flo would send me to the store with a shopping list including “Swan Soap”. After a lengthy search I returned home empty handed. Mom giggled, “Oh I meant “Dove Soap”…..close but not quite right…..Floism

mknezo2014 On November 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

Dove. Swan. Yep, that’s it!

Cheryl On November 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

Sorry for the goof….Cheryl

Sit10 On November 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm

hahah – I once contrived a full explanation for a phrase I *heard* as “loft turtles.” I broke down an entire history of what this phrase must mean. It was “loftier goals.” and I still got pretty close.

Benita Black On November 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Wait just a sec. If I can (vaguely) remember Burns & Allen on the radio, surely Flo could. Their sponsor was Swan Soap. It floated like Ivory, so mostly air.
“Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” (These so-called mis-hearings are called Mondegreens, for reasons too long to go into hear. But everybody loves them.)

mknezo2014 On November 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Mondegreens! I’m Googling right now.

Benita Black On November 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

YIKES!! HERE, not hear. Embarrassing.

mknezo2014 On November 14, 2017 at 12:26 pm

But completely appropriate in this context:)

Larry Melton On November 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Every Christmas, it was the same question. Who is Round John Virgin, you know, All is calm all is bright Round John Virgin.

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