Did Parsley Save Rosemary in Time?

I don’t know where I heard or read it, but a mother was telling the story about her young son riding in the backseat of her car asking this question after hearing the famous Simon and Garfunkel song on the radio. “Did he?” asked the boy. “Did what?” she replied. He answered with the obvious question, “Did Parsley save Rosemary in time?”

“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”  is a chorus from “Scarborough Fair,” one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs, but if you are not a cook or an older eater, the lyrics can throw you. One of the most fun websites is called www.kissthisguy.com named appropriately after one of the most misunderstood lyrics of all time. For those who don’t know the famous Jimi Hendrix song, the song lyric from “Purple Haze” goes ” ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.” But, like many, I misunderstood the lyric as it made sense. Someone doing acid decided to kiss this guy.

John Fogerty, of one of the greatest rock bands – Creedence Clearwater Revival – had a field day with misunderstood lyrics. His creative license to sing stretched the lyrics into unusual directions when he performed his songs. The most famous malapropism is “There’s a bathroom on the right.” This lyric is what most people heard, but what he was trying to say is “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” But, his music was so good, we did not care as much that we did not understand what he was saying.

Misunderstood lyrics even hit the Rolling Stones. One of my favorites is from “Beasts of Burden” when Mick was clearly heard to say “I”ll never leave your pizza burning.” Then there is the song “Jumpin Jack Flash.” This song is so hard to understand, when Whoopi Goldberg starred in the movie of the same name, her character had to listen to this Stones’ song for a clue to a password. After listening umpteen times and with more wine in her, her character blurts out “Mick, what in the f–k are you saying?”

Bon Jovi did not escape being misunderstood on occasion. Their anthem of the 1980’s “Livin on a Prayer” had a line that was heard by more than a few – “It doesn’t make a difference if we are naked or not.” This was likely his female audience having dreams about the lead singer, but I digress. My wife would be in the category.

Let me close with my two favorite misunderstood singers – Elton John and Elvis Costello. I think both are terrific performers and songwriters. Elvis Costello is more easily misunderstood as he has some very interesting lyrics on occasion. On some of his songs, I just had to get the CD out and see what the name of the tune was. “Oliver’s Army” is a great song, but I had a no idea what he was singing about at first. Then, there is “Watching the Detectives” as I ranged from watching with the dead girl to who knows what. Now, it is appropriately used by the “History Detectives” show as their theme song. And, if you really want to get confused listen to “New Laced Sleeves.”

Elton John has written some of the best music of all time and partnered with Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics to most. Their songs are classic and, if you ever go to an Elton John concert, you will witness several generations of family members singing his songs word for word. His is one of the most amazing concerts I have ever seen. It is good that everyone learned Taupin’s lyrics, as it is very hard to glean them from Sir Elton. You may say that I am all wet, as we all know the lyrics of their songs by now, yet when you heard them for the first time, you definitely had to pull out the album insert. This was before the internet. so we could not easily do a search. I will leave you with a few and let you match them up with the actual lyrics:

“Levon likes to warble like a clown.”

“She’s got electric boobs, a mohawk too…”

“Your cat can’t pee in the penthouse.”

“Hold me closer Tony Danza.”

Check out this website, if you have not already. I am sure you will find several lyrics you have heard differently than those intended by the author. And, the answer to the boy’s question, Parsley did save Rosemary in time. She was about to get run over by a bus on the way to Scarborough Fair and Parsley saved her in the nick of time.


31 thoughts on “Did Parsley Save Rosemary in Time?

  1. Geez Louise btg5885…you keep taking all MY favourite songs as your own favourite songs….Send in Those Clowns why don’t you?….and there’s Mr. C with his “Marzedotesndoesandoats and Little Lambs A’divin”…you’d think just being able to remember those songs (let alone love them and still know all the words) we were “old” or something??????? Nah….I didn’t think so either. I do believe, however, Mr. C and I are about in or around give or take a few…the same age. You, 5885, must have been tuned in from the womb…….
    What a nice day it’s been. Thanks for your part in that…..

    • Jots, I need to check out the Little Lambs A-Divin. I got started early with an older brother who was a beyond huge Beatles fan. I remember the first Ed Sullivan and Shea stadium events on TV. So, my brother and I covered many bases with the Beatles, Beach Boys and Stones. My Dad was big Platters and Ray Charles fan, so while they were before my time, I love to listen to them. On the country side, no one could touch Patsy Cline. Crazy…..BTG

      • There you go again…stealing my favourites…Patsy Cline/I Fall to Pieces. I was a [Caucasian] second grader and lived in a small Hispanic border town south of San Diego….just a wink this side of the TiaJuana border….and very much a “minority” especially sporting blond hair and freckles! Mi amiga Consuella and I would dance during outside recess to Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. Swoon over the Platters (Only You…) and Elvis. And….I was seriously in love with Ricky Nelson. Thanks for the memories…..it was a great day for remembering!

  2. My dad used to sing Marzedotesndoeseadoats to me. Also, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Boogie Woogie Bugle boy. I still remember the words since my dad was seldom one to spend time entertaining his kids.

    My son and I were riding around one day and a Cheap Trick song came on..we had great fun trying to understand the “Done Dirt Cheap” lyric. I’ll have to go to that site and see what mutilations were done to that song!

    Great post..thanks for the memories!

    • I know the last three, but you and Hugh have thrown me on the Marzedotesndoeseadoats. I will need to check that one out. Thanks for commenting and welcome. BTG

      • (Courtesy of Wikipedia!):In 1958, New Orleans R&B singer Tommy Ridgely released a rock and roll version of “Mairzy Doats” on the Herald Records label as a 7″ 45 rpm single (number 526).

        In 1963, an up-tempo rock and roll version of “Mairzy Doats” was also recorded by Carlo Mastrangelo of the Belmonts and released as a 7″ record on Laurie Records the same year.

        “Mairzy Doats” received a minor revival in 1967, when it was recorded by The Innocence, who took it to Number 75 on the Pop Top 100 on Kama Sutra Records.

        Spike Jones was among several other artists who covered it, characteristically substituting sound effects for the “food” words.

  3. Funny, funny. My sister thought “center of her own attention” was “center of a rhododendron” in a Pearl Jam song. A friend would sing “1, 2,3,4, get your mother on the phone” instead of “get your woman on the floor.” A guy I know thought it was “do the drunken lady” instead of “dude looks like a lady.” I still can’t figure out the Steve Miller “Joker” lyrics. Pompatice of love?

  4. We had a band here in the 80s called Australian Crawl. They were so hard to understand due to their singer, James Reyne’s lack of diction. Singing along to their classic song, Reckless, was reduced to a string of sounds that sounded like words (sort of), but made no sense whatsoever! Thanks for the memories

    • Thanks for sharing. One of my favorite confused lines from Australia is in “I Come from a Land Down Under” that I misunderstood as “wedge of my sandwich.” The song line is “Vegomite sandwich.” Since we do not have Vegomite to any degree here, I had no idea. G’Day Mate, BTG

      • Sorry, last comment escaped before it was baked? Did you hear that Men At Work were sued for copying the flute solo? It’s very similar to a childhood song “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree”.

      • Too bad George Harrison is not around to give them advice when he was sued for “My Sweet Lord” as it resembled “He’s So Fine.” I can hear the resemblance in the two Aussie songs, but they are different. George unfortunately lost in court, but the songs sounded similar but were not the same. Be interesting to see what happens. All the best, BTG

      • ah; zz top! i’ll never forget when i was dining with friends in greenwood, mississippi, and the zztop group came in for dinner. my friend smiled and said, ‘i think i just saw jesus…’

        we had 4.5 inches of rain this morning – what a way for the rainy season to wean away, complete with usually-absent thunder and lightning!

      • Great memory. Of course, one of their big hits was “Jesus Left Chicago” which is usually played with “Waiting for the Bus.” I had a friend who was an attorney who surprised me one day and said he used to open for ZZ Top and was a pretty good bass player. We should never judge a book by its cover. Have a great one. BTG

  5. Pingback: Good night Marjorie (and other misunderstandings) | musingsofanoldfart

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