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A comedy of lyrrors


By Celia in UnderlandPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 3 min read

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,

’Mum…Who’s Lorraine’

‘What? Who?’

‘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’

Huh? 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?


About the Creator

Celia in Underland

Just a voice finding its echo. Teacher - reader-writer-cat lover. Wanderer. Weirder than a koala in The Arctic. Magpie for shiny words and stuff. Taking the scenic route home.

Admin @ FB VoIces in Minor

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Comments (11)

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  • Lynn Jordan4 months ago

    This was great! I posted mine just a bit ago. In the spirit of your posting, I was much older than I would care to admit when talking with my Mom about lyrics that didn't make sense. My example was I thought they were singing "Raisin in the Grass" and how it was super dumb singing about a raisin and how very '60s it was, and the "shiggy diggy" part in the middle was ridiculous. After my Mom stopped laughing hysterically, she told me it was "grazing" and they were saying, "I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it, we can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it." NOT "shiggy diggy". Oh 😆

  • Excellent response will get mine in soon

  • Omgggg, I'm soooo glad I'm not alone! I have experienced this soooo many times. I would be mindblown when I get to know what the actual word is. Lol!

  • Phil Flannery4 months ago

    Ah, that dastardly Lorraine. I loved Chain Reaction growing up, it was a massive reboot for Dianna Ross, but I never listened to the words. Thanks for the enlightenment. It is so literal.

  • Jay Kantor4 months ago

    'c' - Imagine an English Teacher 'Obsessed with Words' - So glad you're never at a loss for them. 'j'

  • The anecdote in our family came from my younger brother when he was late to the supper table & mom made him write out our table grace. "By his hand which all are fed," became "By his sandwich all are fed." Of course, I have plenty of my own, but that should probably wait for if I should happen to write something for this challenge.

  • Mark Gagnon4 months ago

    How about CCR's there's a bathroom on the right instead of there's a bad moon rising. There are so many more.

  • Kendall Defoe 4 months ago

    I've written about this, too. We all have misheard things and paid the price.

  • Hannah Moore4 months ago

    I must ponder on this!

  • Paul Stewart4 months ago

    hahahaha. I love the honesty of this. For a long time, I don't know whether it was deliberate or something, but in I Can't Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis, I always heard it as "white man say, only fools rush in" and thought he was being sightly racist. Bear in mind too, the very tanned oafish Elvis of the 70s lol. The thing is, I was always changing lyrics deliberately, so not sure if it was a deliberate thing or not, but that was how I heard it, and still have to fight the urge to sing "white man say, only fools rush in" lol. and I know there was a joke about you're not the only one. It must have been quite an eye-opener when you realised chain reaction was about the deed not just some "task". haha! Loved your piece

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