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Thread: Altering lyrics? Do you do it?

  1. #11
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    I never change a lyric to be politically correct or socially accepted.
    I may change it if I forget the words, or if I want it to refer more specifically to me, but to suit someone else, get lost! I'm singing it, dont like it dont listen!
    As for Baby its cold outside, the ones that object are probably cold inside........La lal la la
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    Being a big Tom Petty fan, I was happy to hear him change the lyrics of "Friend of the Devil" in a live performance, covering the song. Referring to a child, the original lyric went :

    Got a wife in Chino, and one in Cherokee, first one says she's got my child, but IT don't look like me

    He changed it to say:

    Got a wife in Chino, and one in Cherokee, first one says she's got my child, but SHE don't look like me

    A small change to be sure, but I always disliked the cold & impersonal reference to a child as an IT, as did Tom apparently.
    Yet we will use the phrase" Is it a boy? Is it a girl?" when asking the sex of a newborn, what if you didnt know the sex of an unborn child? How would you refer to "it".
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  3. #13
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    This thread got me thinking. Whenever we play “Bad Moon Rising” I have a hard time singing the correct lyrics. Ever since our jam leader told us that her kids always sang “there’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “there’s a bad moon on the rise.” Cracks me up every time we play it. I can’t get the “bathroom” lyric out of my head.
    Last edited by RafterGirl; 01-10-2019 at 04:30 PM.
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  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by UkingViking View Post
    I would sometimes wish I had the inspiration to rewrite som lyrics.

    I recently learned "walking my baby back home".
    Lyrics: " She says if I try, to kiss her she'll cry. I dry her tears through the night".
    Omg. Hope that they are tears of joy or sentimentality, but it sound so much worse than "baby its cold outside". I considered coming up with something different, but didn't have the time/inspiration.

    I say whatever suits the audience you are playing for, and/or what you are comfortable with. You can lean on thats how they wrote songs back then if you are comfortable with that and you expect your audience to understand.
    Or you can change it if you like. I would definately change lyrics if I believed that someone in the target audience would be genuinely offended.
    You can't predict everyone who might get offended by something historcally conditioned, then on the other hand I am not a fan of keeping historical lyrics just to piss people off.
    I love the song, but never sing that second verse.

  5. #15
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    I will sometimes change the sex of the singer from female to male, but not always. Some songs, like House Of The Rising Sun, should have the singer remain singing from the woman's point of view. Josh White, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan . . . all sang in the persona of a woman trapped in a life of prostitution. Eric Burdon learned the song from Bob Dylan's first album, but, not feeling comfortable singing from the woman's point of view, he changed, "being so young and foolish poor girl, let a rambler lead me astray," to "being so young and foolish poor boy, let a gambler lead me astray" and lost (for me anyway) much of the effectiveness of the song.

    I will sometimes leave out a verse that I don't feel comfortable singing in an otherwise great song. In Loudon Wainwright III's Dump The Dog, I drop the verse that goes:

    Oh my good girl loves me madly
    And my bad girl is a flirt
    I'll take the good with the bad gladly
    And I'll treat them both like dirt


    I have changed words accidentally. I recorded a Fred Eaglesmith song High Heels In The Rain and changed, "In the morning she wakes up and draws back the curtains, looks out on a brand new day," to "In the morning she wakes up and draws back the drapes and looks out on a brand new day," purely by accident. Since I discovered my mistake, I always perform it using "curtains". Not a big mistake, but. . .
    Last edited by Jim Yates; 01-10-2019 at 08:53 PM.

  6. #16
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    Why not, nobody owns words, if it fits better, in your mind, go for it.

    I've changed words, not that I would 'sing' very often - I'm the one 'perfoming' it, so I'll do it how I want to.
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  7. #17
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    Really interesting discussion, thanks for your thoughts.
    And the irony of me asking - as if anybody will ever hear me play!!
    I may post some different lyrics here just for the helluvit.
    Trying! (Apparently very trying...)

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dansimpson View Post
    I never change a lyric to be politically correct or socially accepted.
    I may change it if I forget the words, or if I want it to refer more specifically to me, but to suit someone else, get lost! I'm singing it, dont like it dont listen!
    As for Baby its cold outside, the ones that object are probably cold inside........La lal la la
    The summer before last I was asked to play at a church picnic. I play Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz. It is the first song in my playlist as it is a good one for me to warm up on and get the vocal chords working. I've already changed the words "color tv" to "HD tv", and "dialing for dollars" to "'merica's got talent," to make it more relevant. So the lady who had asked me to play wanted to see the play list. I've always thought that song was a religious song, and that it calls out those who pray for material gifts vs those who pray for spiritual gifts. But regardless, she didn't like it. Maybe it hit too close to home for some of the picnickers. Anyway, like I said, it is a good warm up, so I suggested that I change "oh lord" to "papa." It fits. So she was good with that. People seemed to like it. But it really didn't make any difference to me. I mean, it is such a small thing. It is just hard for me to get started. Once I get going I'm okay. That song is my crutch. It worked out fine.
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  9. #19
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    Only on days that end with a "y"

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    Why not, nobody owns words, if it fits better, in your mind, go for it.

    I've changed words, not that I would 'sing' very often - I'm the one 'perfoming' it, so I'll do it how I want to.
    Nobody owns individual words, but the combination of words that make up the lyrics to a song are owned by the composer. That's the whole basis for copyright laws.

    I don't believe you'd get in trouble for changing a few words, but they are the property of the composer.

    I often wonder about the work of Homer & Jethro or Weird Al. Do they get permission from the composer?

    I know the owners of the rights to Oscar Brown Jr's Snake have asked Donald Trump to stop using their father's lyrics. Good Luck with that.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPKg4_uq2Eo
    Last edited by Jim Yates; 01-12-2019 at 10:48 AM.

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