Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,
Vakkotaur
vakkotaur

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The Incredible State of Almost (Lyrics)


There are covers of some tunes that have the lyrics changed. I don't know if the change was to avoid being an exact copy of the original or if it was thought to be an improvement, or just for someone to put their mark on the tune, but there are times when all it does is screw things up. I have a couple examples.

Heat Miser as recorded by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has a great sound, the instruments seeming much better than in the source (Year Without A Santa Claus - Rankin Bass, 1974). That's good. What's bad is the change in the first verse (of the Snow Miser part) to lyrics that lose the sensible rhyme of the original.

Original:

I'm Mr. White Christmas.
I'm Mr. Snow.
I'm Mr. Icicle.
I'm Mr. Ten Below.


Revised:

I'm Mr. White Christmas.
I'm Mr. Cool.
I'm Mr. Icicle.
I'm Mr. Ten Below.


'Cool' doesn't rhyme with 'below' and it just sounds wrong. When the backup singers sing it later, they revert to original lyrics and sound much better.




The Last Shanty by Tom Lewis was covered by Celtic Connection and they changed a couple things and made it sound wrong. They deleted a verse (the one about radar, Loran, and sonar. source), but that's not the issue here. There are a couple places where the new version misses...

New:
We're good with steam and diesel, but what's it mainly for?
A stoker ain't a stoker with a shovel any more!


I listened to the tune several times and the line began to bother me. I had guessed it was supposed to be 'mainsail' but I was only close...

Original:
We're good with steam and diesel, but what's a mainyard for?
A stoker ain't a stoker with a shovel any more!


The sore thumb of the rewritten lyrics, however, is in the verse about communications methods...

New:
They gave us an Aldis Lamp, we can do it right,
They gave us a radio, we signal day and night;
We know our codes and ciphers, but what's a cipher for?
A 'bunting-tosser' doesn't toss the bunting any more!


That third line just screams out for a different ending. It's communications. It's codes. It's on a ship. It just begs for a 'semaphore' pun. And it's because that's exactly what the person who wrote it put there...

Original:
They gave us an Aldis Lamp, we can do it right,
They gave us a radio, we signal day and night;
We know our codes and ciphers, but what's a 'sema' for?
A 'bunting-tosser' doesn't toss the bunting any more!


It's annoying. And all the moreso since it the rest of tune is good and the style is great. The refrain is an impressive bit of vocal work and deserves better than the only almost-right lyrics the lead sings.

Tags: almost, lyrics, music
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