Monday, July 11, 2005

Oon ah svers

It took some intense persuading by my friends to convince me that the song "We are spirits in a material world" by The Police did not actually say: "Oon ah svers, oon a mazerio..." (I think I sang 'Oon ah svers' for probably 7 years?) This morning I was listening to that great song by Macy Grey: "Try to walk away and I stumble, though I try to hide it, it's clear..." I was singing along, and I couldn't figure out what it said next, until finally it dawned on me: "...though I try to hide it, it's clear, I wore covers when you are not near!" It didn't make much sense at the time (and the tenses didn't match), but it made at least as much sense as "Oon ah svers..." So I stuck with that for a while.

I asked Gabby what it said, and she told me it said "My world crumbles when you are not near." Now THAT makes sense! Wow! what awesome lyrics! Macy Grey didn't give up during the chorus and throw in some obscure bed reference!

Gabby must find me both puzzling and embarassing. I imagine she greatly underestimated the number of lyrical corrections she would need to make for her husband. I shudder when I imagine what people would think of me if I didn't have her as a filter? Wisely, I try not to sing along with songs in front of others, unless I have first conferred on lyrics with Gabby. She is great at interpretive listening. I know I ought to just assume that songs make sense, that rarely does a song throw in a random phrase like "I wore covers..." or "oon ah svers" (unless it is introducing a new term for pop culture e.g. 'jiggy'). But I don't. I assume it's a mystery--covered, hidden, protected, eternally awaiting further revelation.

My analysis: I guess I assume first that every song is in a foreign language. When I start to hear English and a puzzling phrase comes up, I assume it is an inside joke the songwriter has with his or her long lost lover, or his or herself. There are some advantages to this approach. For example, I am blown away by lyrics that make sense the whole way through a song. Also, I can enjoy good music even in the midst of awful lyrics. I am in general a very generous judge of lyrics: "Well, it doesn't make much sense to me, but I don't assume it should. For all I know, it is the makings of a fantastic song."


  1. Too funny. Like Gabby, Wes is a good interpretive listener. He always has to correct my U2 lyrics. And it always leads back to the "Oon Ah Svers" story. Another good one is Addie's version of the Maroon 5 song, "I Owe You a Quarter in the Pouring Rain."

  2. Does it really say "We are spirits. . ." because I always sang "Oh I swear its. . " That is one of the great things about the internet is you can find the real lyrics pretty easily through google. Ben ask Josh if he remembers by "burger bag" lyrical mess-up.

  3. jordan2:02 PM


    hmmmm. Was that cool in Provo?

  4. What about Purple Haze? Do you hear "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy?"

  5. Ben, I just had to comment on this blog...very funny. My personal favorite is Bryan Adams song "Anything I do, I do it for you" (not sure on the real name) i always thought it was " I would fight for you - I'd lie for you
    hike the Y for you - ya I'd die for you "

  6. Wow! It seems everyone is contributing in positive and uplifting ways to extend and enhance this conversation, with only one noticable exception! It starts with a 'J' and rhymes with 'fordan'.

    I guess my first issue is that, yes, Sting was cool in Provo, but no more than say, anywhere else in the world. Sting, as many of you may or may not know is what I often refer to as a "rock star", but he is more than just a simple rock star (e.g. Ted Nugent, Dan Fogelberg, Usher, Ryan Adams, etc.). I would call Sting an international phenomenon with amazing staying power.

    Certainly there have been odd pockets throughout the international community that have dismissed, or in other ways under-appreciated Sting, perhaps most concentrated in the deep South.

    Now I don't want to be like Sting, but I like his music and lyrics (or what I make out to be his lyrics). So he's not someone I would pattern my life after, as I would someone that I think is really cool, i.e. Will Smith.

    But maybe Jordan's standard for 'cool' is impossibly high? Was Will Smith even cool where you grew up Jordan?

  7. Here, here, Ben. And let's not forget that Sting is tantric. You know, for what it's worth.

    And, if I might make just one addition to your comment it would be to say that yes, Sting was cool in Provo, but no more than say, anywhere ele in the whole wide world. But I'm immature like that. And I wish I were Sting.

  8. Sting is indeed an international phenomenon. He seems to have enjoyed quite a bit of success since parting ways with Stewart Copeland--which I just can't understand. Every little thing those guys did was magic. Everything Sting has done since? Meh.

  9. I thought of another one, does anyone know the song "bobber ran" by the beach boys. It's one of my favorites.

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  11. Jordan. As you may or may not know, Gwen Stefani introduced The Police as they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and P Diddy covered a song by The Police--the song that basically made P Diddy what he is today. So, The Police were no cooler for me and my Provo friends as they were for Gwen Stefani or P Diddy. By the way, who was cool where you grew up? I'm pretty sure Will Smith liked them too.