Friday, December 25, 2009

Year-end Fun-AT-tix and More Same Song Titles

Fun-AT-tix is my wordplay on phonetics, but I'm also using the base syllable "phon-" to talk about homophones. (I wrote about homophones in a previous article.). I wanted to use "fun@tix", but I have a feeling the blogspot would have an issue with the "@" sign in the article title.

The first part of this article is about homophones in year-end holiday songs and/or their lyrics. (Well, the words completely or closely approach homophones anyway.) I think a lot of songs are probably so popular and ingrained in many of us that we don't consider the possibilities of different spellings of words. I've listed some songs below for rumination. (Christmas-song midi files are available at

Note: People who are poor spellers or ESLers might consider NOT looking to this article as a learning tool for correct spelling. :-)
  • Santa Claws Is Cumin to Town (Sandy Claws has been done to death.)
  • Gin Gull Bells
  • Sy Lent Knight
  • O Holey Knight (also spellable as O Wholly Knight)
  • O Little Town of Beth La Hem
  • A Way in a Manger
  • Hark the Harold Angels Sing (The actual title makes me think of Shelly Fabares' Johnny Angel from 1962.)
  • Rudolph the Red Knows Rain, Dear
  • Angels We Have Herd on High
  • Joy to the Whirled

One holiday song that has long mystified me for title strangeness has been Angels We Have Heard on High. The title appears ONCE in the entire song, yet "Gloria" is sung repeatedly, extendedly (glo, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, ree-yuh) and often. In talking about "Gloria", I'm now revisiting songs that have the same titles but are different songs ("Same Song Titles, Different Songs"), for which I wrote an October article. In keeping with the holiday theme for now, the following songs fulfill both holiday and non-holiday categories:

Gloria by Van Morrison/Them (1963) is actually titled rationally; there is no doubt who or what the main thought is—"Glo-ree-a. G-L-O-R-I-A, …" and on and on and on. Laura Brannigan's version (1982) has "Gloria" throughout the song, also leaving no doubt as to the topic name. As for Angels We Have Heard on High, "Gloria" gets a lot more air time than the actual song title's words. I say rename the song to Gloria and really confuse people!

Joy to the World
Joy to the World by Three Dog Night (1971) dominated the rock and roll airwaves and took over JTTW consciousness for awhile. In one Christmas special I saw many years ago, a group of elderly people were introduced to sing Joy to the World. Instead of the religious version, they launched into "JER-I-MY-AH WAS A BULL-FROG, WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, …", etc. Wish I could remember what the show was or could easily find it on youtube. Hilarious and entertaining!

Auld Lang Syne/Same Old Lang Syne
Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg (1980) is a bittersweet song that actually contains a pastiche of Auld Lang Syne as delivered by most bands on New Year's Day (popularized by Guy Lombardo).

Now, on to the rest of Same Song Titles, Different Songs, Part 2—non-holiday songs.

Candy Man/Candyman
For people who hear the song and pay less attention to whether it is one word or two, aurally, it's three sound memes—can-dee-man. The notable versions are from Roy Orbison (1961), Sammy Davis, Jr. (1972, song used in original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), Christina Aguilera (2007), and Aqua (1997, song AKA Lollipop, not to be confused with Chordettes' Lollipop from 1958 or Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop from 1964).

Both the Association's version (1966) and Kool and the Gang's version (1985) are slow, with love and devotion lyrics. The Association version indicates a silent sufferer, however, contrasted to KATG's version of public pronouncements.

Neil Sedaka (1965) and Bobby Hebb (1966) both sing of rain and pain, then of love. Two very different styles for similar themes, Neil's is very melodic and Bobby's has jazzy arrangements.

Color My World
Two songs with the same song title could hardly be more different from each other. Petula Clark's peppy, horns-laden version from 1967 contrasts with Chicago's slow, flutey version from 1970.

Peggy Lee (1958) might have the best-known version, also popularized by the McCoys (1965) and Rita Coolidge (1973). Recently, Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert separately recorded and released Lady Gaga's version.

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