Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stepped on a Pop Tart

For most of my adult life, I thought the line in Jimmy Buffet's song Margaritaville, I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top, was actually ...stepped on a Pop Tart. Someone kindly pointed it out to me while I energetically sang along at a concert (OK, maybe not so kindly. It was more like, you dork!). I also thought that in U2's Where the Streets Have No Name, our love turns to rust, was actually our love tends to rush. I went to see them when they toured for the Joshua Tree, like, seven times but didn't discover my mistake until last year. A week ago, while listening to the radio on my way to work, Carol King's song Jasmine came on. I like to sing in the car. Loudly. I cranked it up and realized, OMG, she's singing Jazz Man. This song is clearly about a jazz musician, but I probably warped the other lyrics because I reaaaally like the smell of jasmine. Go ahead, say it...dork.

I thought maybe my hearing was bad. But then I realized, I heard what I felt was right. And now, even though I know the proper lyrics, it takes everything I have to hear them the right way.

For the past few weeks I've been working on a tough revision project. My friend Alexa called it a reimagining, which is probably more accurate. I just stared at my original draft on Day 1, thinking, how in the heck am I going to do this? Then I realized I shouldn't be looking at my earlier draft at all. In my head it was a finished product, and, like with the song lyrics, it was excruciatingly hard to train my brain to hear it differently. I opened a new doc and typed Chapter 1.

It made a world of difference.

So, to all my writer friends out there tackling revision projects: my thoughts are with you. Just don't ask me about the lyrics to Poker Face (You don't want to know what I thought...)


  1. My husband's full of interesting lyrics.

    Best concert ever was U2's LoveTown tour while I was an exchange student in Australia. Lovely, lovely.

  2. Yes, Loretta, and the worst part is when you actually WATCH someone singing, and you STILL cannot figure out what they are saying! I used to read liner notes, but now I google the lyrics.

    Hey, great advice, girl, about revisions. A new Chapter 1. Good luck with your reimagining! Hope you write some GREAT new lyrics, er, chapters!

  3. You could also think of your revision as an alternate timeline à la Lost, right?

    Oh, and I still proudly sing "wrapped up like a douche" instead of "revved up like a deuce" when I hear "Blinded By The Light."

  4. Ha! I love Alexa's suggestion about the alternate timeline. Perfect comparison.

    And I can't believe how brave you were to start with a blank document. The very idea of it gives me heart palpitations.

    I'm terrible with lyrics. I thought Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations" was actually "Good Sensations." Yeah.

  5. I totally agree with LiLa on the 'the very idea of it gives me heart palpitations.' You are a WARRIOR!

  6. Carolyn--U2 in Australia sounds lovely indeed.

    Linda! Thanks! And, oh, how I miss liner notes.

    Alexa--You mean it's not "douche"? What???? And we need to get together soon to talk about LOST.

    LiLa--Good Sensations sounds better to me. But the, it also sounds like a body wash.

    Amy--It's not so bad. Really (She says as her heart gives out).

  7. Thank you for the advice about revisions--I had to do the same thing with a chapter for my non-fiction book proposal. Started completely from scratch and it went more quickly than if I had messed around with the original. And it's a lot better than the first draft! (At least I hope so.) :)

  8. What, I just saw Buffet Live this summer--he doesn't say "stepped on a lap top"? I thought he was ahead of his time...

  9. Oh, Jo, you know I'm going to start singing "lap top" now. Oh, man...

  10. And, Jenny, you are wonderful writer. I'm sure it's great. Can't wait to read it!