Correcting lyrics when singing. OK? Not OK?

This is an ethical/musical question. When the artist makes a mistake, are you obliged to sing it the same way. In She’s Waiting by Eric Clapton and Peter Robinson, Mr. Clapton clearly sings

Do I have to do the same when I sing it? One could imagine a guy wearing a crown sitting down to a nice Japanese meal, but I’m sure that a chess reference was meant (especially since all the lyric sites say “pawn”).

Where does one draw the line? Clearly you don’t correct “Can’t get no satisfaction” to “Can’t get any satisfaction”–or do you? :slight_smile:

Um, well, I do correct “If I Fell” every time I sing it. I can’t help it.

Oh, and I use the subjunctive when singing “Light My Fire.” It’s like a sickness. Hellllp meeeeee.

I think I’d do the subjunctive automatically a lot of times. It’s how I actually talk, so I’d do it without thinking.

On the other hand, I would be required to sing “Secret Asian Man” faithfully.

How about in “Sky Pilot,” where Eric Burdon presumably meant to sing “But he’ll stay behind, and he’ll meditate” only it came out “But he stale behind…”

And how many Cheap Trick fans sing, “deedle I, deedle I…”

Then there’s “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brothoooo.” :rolleyes:

Similarly, do you try to emulate the accent of the singer’s voice? I find this especially disconcerting when I find myself singing along with a Billy Bragg song. His British accent is soooo thick, but I find myself trying to sound like him anyway.

Well, if you really think song lyrics should be corrected, you should love Stan Freberg’s timeless classic Elderly Man River:

Please elaborate.

“I can’t get any satisfaction.”

“It doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t have that swing.”

“You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I were to say to you.”

The one that always kills me is in “A Fine Romance.”

I correct it even when I’m just singing along to the cd. I’m sorry, but seals just don’t have wings. Correcting grammar, on the other hand, is kinda silly, and would probably mess up the scansion anyway. But I think factual errors are fair game.

The wrong words are part of the song.

If you should ever find someone new
I know he better be good to you.
'Cause if he doesn’t-- I’ll be there.

That one kind of bothers me, but saying “'cause if he isn’t” is singing the words wrong.

Know what bugs me? The theme from Dawson’s Creek, where Paula Cole says “Say a little prayer for I.” WTF is that? You can’t fix it by saying “me” because that doesn’t fit the rhyme scheme.

“If I Were to Fall” ??? :confused:

Sorry for the continuing hijack. I do, whether I try to or not. There are times when you have to (“Fantasies Come True” from Avenue Q) but I do it, even when you don’t have to.

“I Have Eyes for Only You.”
“Saturday Night is the most lonely night of the week.”
“One is the most lonely number you will ever do know” (how does one DO a number?)

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
Because no one is present to give you any shame.

Well, there’s that, and the similar line in the middle eight:

And I
Would be sad if our new love
Was in vain

But the real problem with that song is:

I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

Now admittedly, if Paul sang the correct “she” there, it would sound quite stilted. But as it stands, he seems to be hoping that the girl he’s addressing would love him more than she does some lesbian lover…assuming the song is addressed to a female in the first place…

I say it depends on how faithfully you’re trying to cover the song. If you’re trying to reproduce the single, or if that’s what your audience expects (especially if they’re singing along), then messing with the lyrics (even if they’re wrong) will throw the audience off and distract them. For example, I hate that California Dreaming contains the line “I’d be safe and warm if I was in LA,” but to sing “if I were in LA” would just sound…well, wrong. It doesn’t bother me much, though, because I know that I’m not the one who wrote the lyrics. :smiley:

Sometimes, though, ‘corrections’ can be snuck (sneaked?) in with a minimum of fuss: I can’t stand the way the guy from Dishwalla sings the word “often” in Counting Blue Cars, so I always change it when I sing that song. No one has noticed yet, but I guess changing a word’s pronunciation is different from changing the word entirely. If you’re not doing a faithful cover, but rather trying to give someone else’s song your own sound, there’s probably more latitude for word substitutions.