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Voicemail Transcriber Gives New Meaning to Pop Lyrics


Irene hears what she wants to hear.

My new cell phone voicemail transcriber (“voice-female,” if you will) wrote this to me during her first week on the job: “Hey Phil I have that apple crazy something out I needed to hey mark cory the 1 item doing better warren not.” When I listened to the message, there was no Phil, no apple, no Mark, no Cory and no Warren.

Which brought to mind those tedious, endlessly recycled lists of “Top Misheard Lyrics.” I mean, does anyone really think Elton John wants Tony Danza to hold him closer or that Jimi Hendrix wants us to “‘scuse” him while he kisses “this guy”?

But pop music lyrics can be notoriously hard to decipher. Since Irene clearly needed practice in the art of listening, I called my own cell and recited some of my favorite lyrical snippets. (To listen and match wits, see links.) Here’s what she wrote…

1. “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” — “hi lucky just got done with dinner.”

2. “Should I stay or should I go” — “hey dave @#$% gold now now”

3. “I heard it through the grapevine” — “hey I wanted to leave get a great time”

4. “I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone” — “I’ll probably see you a left there in your car”

5. “Her name was Magil/and she called herself Lil/but everyone knew her as Nancy” — “hi cook calling from hilton this is cristy walker and nancy.”

6. “Goodness gracious great balls of fire” — “hey gracious greg pull i need”

7. “Two girls for every boy” — “too cold for everything bye”

8. “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone” — “hey gary doc fleming for your next”

9. “Love has the nasty habit of disappearing overnight” — “You know and have it considering all right scott”

10. “I can’t get no satisfaction” – “hey it’s me give me a”

11. “All you did was wreck my bed/and in the morning kick me in the head” — “hey how you doing that my dad and when can go ahead”

12. “My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me” — “they have a very friendly realtor and”

13. “You’re the reason our kids are ugly” — “you the resume kids or or please”

14. “It’s only teenage wasteland” — “please call me if you need to”

‘A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest’: Simon & Garfunkel, ‘The Boxer,’ live in Central Park, 1981

15. “Red hair and black leather/my favorite color scheme” — “ready here that because of the the other my favorite father clean”

16. “When I woke up this morning/you were on my mind” — “where I look up 9 you most kate at home in the money”

17. “What becomes of the brokenhearted” — “lazy you cons of the brook and her to the”

18. “I just wasn’t made for these times” — “I just wasn’t and they did rubes a”

19. “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling” — “hi that’ll itching long call there if we”

20. “I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will” — “I know I changed com com old if when you”

Before saying “Goodnight Irene,” I left one more message, with these words of wisdom from Paul Simon (“The Boxer”): “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Irene’s transcription–“many years we want to in regards to”–indicates that she didn’t want to hear it.


For more by Michael Sigman, click here.

Writer/editor, media consultant, music publisher Michael Sigman is a regular Huffington Post blogger. Follow Michael Sigman on Twitter

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