Bette & Rosie ... You Hear What You Want To Hear
Are you only hearing what you want to hear?
Sometimes we mishear what people say. More frequently, though, we misunderstand what they mean and such miscommunication can, and often does, create a lot of problems.
She's Got ... What!?
In 1981, I was 13 years old and my family owned a horse farm outside of Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada. Every day, our barn need to be mucked out and my older brother and I spent countless hours doing just that. To make shoveling shit less of a burden, we'd play music on a radio. I can still recall it almost perfectly: Originally, I suspect, it had been white but over the years the plastic had completely yellowed with age. It had a big dial in the front and a nearly useless antennae that made tuning an exercise requiring a degree of luck bordering upon magic.
Anyway, one day a then-current hit song began to play. It was catchy and so I started to sing along. I was interrupted by my older brother, "What are you singing? Those aren't the words, you dufus." A heated argument ensued which eventually devolved into pushing and punching. For those too young to remember, in the Olden Days, our music-making-machines were "live only" and so you might have to wait days for a song to re-play so as to resolve such a dispute.
In any event, I was 100% confident in my interpretation of the lyrics and so I awaited, not-so-patiently, for the song to play again so I could stick it to my stupid brother. Well, I wouldn't be recounting this story if things had worked out the way I'd planned, would I?
I was sure she had "... better days aside."
As it turned out, she had "... Bette Davis eyes."
Who thought the choreography for this video was a good idea?
I was shocked. I'd been absolutely certain. And who the Hell was Bette Davis?
As the lyrics of some of my other favorite songs became available on the Internet, I was in for a number of similar semantic surprises. And, I'd be willing to bet, I wasn't alone in my multiple misconceptions.
Here's a mega-hit from Neil Diamond. I love this song and, obviously, so do a lot of other people. Listen to the whole song so that it's fresh in your mind. (If you don't follow the directions, you'll ruin the effect and the entire point of the article ... I'm talking to you @cryptogee).
OK, done? Good.
Now, what was that song about?
Well, it's pretty obvious: It's a man serenading a woman, "Cracklin Rosie." Two lovers romantically entwined, engaged in prolonged lovemaking. An anthem to the object of a man's love, and his lust. A tribute to tryst, if you will.
"Cracklin Rosie" is the cheapest bottle of "rosé wine" that can be purchased in the General Stores of Indian Reservations in Northern Canada. On such reservations, unemployment, poverty and substance abuse is endemic and there are, typically, more men than women as many of the latter have departed for the cities.
And so, the guys with no girls go down to the General Store to buy a "store bought woman" and wile away the hours around a "cracklin" campfire, getting drunk with the only companion available. To break up the monotony, some will periodically jump aboard a passing train and party alone in the back of an empty freight car.
So here's the song a second time, this time with the lyrics included. Now that you know what the words really mean, listen again to see how such insight changes your reaction to what you're hearing:
(I hope the fact that I may have just shattered a number of cherished childhood memories won't adversely effect the value of your upvote.)
All this begs the question: If the words of a mega-hit we've all heard a million times could be so dramatically misconstrued, what else might we be misunderstanding? If you didn't understand Neil Diamond, are you sure you understand me? Or others?
Chances are that "Confirmation Bias" (hearing what we want to hear, instead of what's actually being said) is causing some huge errors in judgement about one another, the imputation of meaning that was neither said nor implied. Whether modern-day politics or blockchain governance, matters of controversy are notorious for causing people to jump to conclusions, of reading their own beliefs and biases into what others are trying to say.
Perhaps most distressingly, such skewed perception not-infrequently results in allegations of moral turpitude. But not everyone with a mustache is Hitler, and surely not every person with whom you disagree is trying to usher in the next age of fascism.
Perhaps we need to spend less time reading between the lines, and more on the lines themselves.
Confession Time: In the comments section, come clean about the lyrics that YOU'VE mangled over the years. And, if you claim that you've never done it, know that I will attach a fitting response to your comment:
Liar, liar pants on fire, ***** All images are linked to source, are QuillFire originals or are modifications of images in the public domain. Videos and images may also be parodies/educational analyses of original works, and therefore rely upon applicable exemptions from copyright. And remember ... Go Love a Starving Poet For God's sake ... they're starving!
Nose as long as a telephone wire.
You guys know the QuillDrill. Be verbose ... but articulate.
All images are linked to source, are QuillFire originals or are modifications of images in the public domain. Videos and images may also be parodies/educational analyses of original works, and therefore rely upon applicable exemptions from copyright.
And remember ...
Go Love a Starving Poet
For God's sake ... they're starving!