Mick Jagger is a man of many talents, but enunciation is not one of them.
Whenever his near-contemporary, Dame Julie Andrews, sings a song, every word emerges crystal clear. Even when the lyric is complicated, as in My Favourite Things, there is no question of any misunderstanding.
Sir Mick, on the other hand, tends to garble his words. It is often impossible to make out what he’s getting at.
Mick Jagger is a man of many talents, but enunciation is not one of them and he tends to garble his words
Over the years, this has meant that many Rolling Stones fans have misheard even their most famous lyrics.
For instance, the first line of Beast Of Burden is, ‘I’ll never be your beast of burden’, but some people still hear it as, ‘I’ll never leave your pizza burning’.
Perhaps this is prompted by wishful thinking: given the choice between a partner who vowed never to carry our luggage and one who promised never to burn our pizza, most of us would opt for the latter.
More from Craig Brown for the Daily Mail…
- CRAIG BROWN: Look out! The bossy boots are on the march… 29/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: I can go Left or Right, guv… or round in circles 28/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: As top celebrities bombard us with advice, the greatest life tip is… never, ever try DIY! 22/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: Snappy dressers rejoice! Crocs are back… again 16/09/21
- My domestic agenda? It’s a basket case: Tony Blair’s household guide part 3… as told to CRAIG BROWN 14/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: Please keep quiet, you’re annoying me! 09/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: Vote for your favourite dimwit MPs 07/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: I say, Jeeves, who’ll save my bally pinstripe? Nine fascinating facts about the suit 02/09/21
- CRAIG BROWN: Your robot will be Elon in a minute 31/08/21
- VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
Owing to Sir Mick’s habit of slurring his words, other Rolling Stones songs have also been misunderstood.
The second verse of Jumpin’ Jack Flash goes, ‘I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,’ but it has been subject to countless mishearings, among them, ‘I was raised by a toothfairy’s pitted hand’, ‘I was raised by a toothless, weirded hat’, and ‘I was raised by two pairs of skinny hands’. Who’s to say that the original is the best?
Of course, the Rolling Stones are not the only offenders. When one of my favourite bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival, sang ‘There’s a bad moon on the rise’, many thought their message was more pedestrian: ‘There’s a bathroom on the right’.
Bob Dylan’s gruff, whiny vocals often send out the wrong message. There are those who still think his most famous lyrics goes: ‘The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind’.
But even the crispest, clearest singers can still find themselves misunderstood. When Crystal Gayle sang, ‘Don’t it make my brown eyes blue’, some thought she was suffering from a rare medical complaint: ‘Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue’.
Bob Dylan’s gruff, whiny vocals often send out the wrong message and his lyrics are misunderstood
In the same way, many listeners were moved by Paul Young croakily singing, ‘Every time you go away you take a piece of me with you’. But those with less sharp ears thought he was singing, ‘Every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you’.
Recently, the Rolling Stones have stopped playing Brown Sugar following complaints that the lyrics were racist and sexist. This prompts the question: how could they hear them?
Sir Mick’s singing of the song is so mangled that the words might just as well be in Swahili. The chorus goes ‘Brown Sugar — just like a young girl should’, but, over the years, this has been misheard as ‘just like a yoghurt should’. With Sir Mick’s famous financial expertise, he might have sold it to the Milk Marketing Board.
Other words in Brown Sugar also come out wonky.
The official lyrics of the first two lines, which caused the current outcry, are, ‘Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields/ Sold in a market down in New Orleans/ Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing all right/ Hear him whip the women just around midnight’.
It’s not exactly Amazing Grace, but how many people ever twigged that this was what Sir Mick was on about? One fan thought the first two lines were,’Dull girl say she found her cut-off jeans/ Sold in the market down in New Orleans.’ Another was convinced they were ‘Glucose slave ship made of cottage cheese/ Fell into a greasy vat of kidney beans’.
Rather than drop the whole song, Sir Mick could simply change the words, to a more wholesome hymn to yoghurt, cottage cheese and kidney beans. His lawyers would be satisfied, and no one else would notice.
While he’s in the mood, might I suggest he also considers re-jigging the 1968 Rolling Stones song Stray Cat Blues?
At the moment, the words are all too clear. ‘I can see that you’re 15 years old/ No, I don’t want your ID/ And I can see that you’re so far from home/ But it’s no hanging matter/ It’s no capital crime.’
Oddly enough, when Sir Mick sings the same song on the Stones’ 1970 Live album ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out’, he appears to reduce the girl’s age from 15 to 13. Or are my ears playing up?
- Who is in the running to be Mansfield’s next mayor?
- Local elections: Adult care the single biggest issue facing the city council
- Stoke-on-Trent Elections: Fixing children's care is council's most urgent task
CRAIG BROWN: Slurring Mick pledges pizza satisfaction... have 945 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at October 21, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.