A response to Phil's Vocal Social Society Challenge:
Being an English teacher with a bit of a word obsession, you would think that I would be au fait with the whole, ‘Comprehension’ thing. Apparently, not so. Over the years I have had many encounters with lyrical misinterpretation.
The first I can remember vividly, though there have been, rather embarrasingly, many others.
I was a pondering kind of kid, whilst the others were off catching tadpoles (I never did quite get the fun in THAT pastime) or the rather (in my opinion) horrific sport of cow tipping, I would happily scuttle into some hideaway (the cwtch was a particular favourite) and think up characters and stories. Sometimes I would write them, others I would talk to them as if we were best friends or family. Probably explains why I was never popular.
In my story making exploits, I spent a rather inordinate amount of my time contemplating who ‘Lorraine’ of Johnny Nash acclaim was. Contemplating what she might have done that would make a man see things more clearly after she had gone. That’s not the kind of relationship I would want when I grow up I would think as I continued filling in the gaps of their life together. The Lorraine of my mind had the mean spiritedness of Dahl’s Mrs Trunchbull but looked like Monica Bellucci. All lips and sashaying hips. A dark beauty. Maybe even a witch.
It wasn’t until a Zemblanitic happenstance. The song was playing in the living room, so finally I could get a read on this mysterious females,
‘Lorraine in the song’
I didn’t understand why she was laughing so hard. It seemed like a sensible question to my 11 year old self. When she finally composed herself, I found out exactly why. In that moment I lost a character to a story I had been building in my head.
‘T-H-E R-A-I-N, Celia. T-H-E R-A-I-N’
I became a family anecdote for years to come.
Another revelation occurred much later, this time a more solitary dawning – which is probably just as well.
Before setting off to work at the local pub, I had gotten into the habit of mind-set making by throwing on the impossibly upbeat ‘Chain Reaction’. In part I think it had become a way of preparing myself for the onslaught of interaction. Plus, the simple optimism of it had always made me smile. A song about working together and consequences. The magic of what can truly happen when people support each other. The message appealed to me and so too did the energy of the beats.
I remember so clearly coming out of the shower on that fateful evening, my bedroom alive with the sultry voice of Diana Ross
‘For the sweet sensation, instant radiation
You let me hold you for the first explosion’
The dawning was gradual but irreversible. It was as if I had heard it for the first time not the nineteen hundredth.
Each replay peeled back another layer of innocence. Nope. It definitely was not about what I thought it was about.
I think I’m still quite dazed even as I type about it twenty odd years later. I won’t go into too much detail because otherwise I would have to post in the ‘Filthy’ community. But, in brief, it’s a song less about working together and more about sleeping together. Though I suppose there is a certain kind of collaboration to both. One rather more active than the other.
And so, 'Chain Reaction' joined 'Lorraine' in my personal lexicon of misheard and entirely misunderstood lyrics.
I wonder how many more I have yet to discover?
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!