My husband loves to listen to me sing. Not because I have a beautiful voice (which I do, thank you), but he enjoys listening to my version of the song – my lyrics. I notoriously butcher songs. I sing them phonetically, whatever words I hear are the ones I sing whether it makes sense of not. Whether the word is in fact a word or not when it comes to Hebrew songs.
On our third date my husband, making fun of girls not knowing lyrics, passionately sang “Avinu Av Harachman, hameracheim, Rochel Imeinu” He didn’t know he was talking to the leader of the movement. Of course I didn’t fess up until he heard me in action.
I never sing too loud by kumzitzes, not wanting to be called out for enunciating a mem instead of a noon, or a completely avoiding the middle of a word. Zemiros are quality comedy, or probably blasphemous with the words I replace. I’ve tried using a bentcher, but when I read the correct words I’m baffled as to how so many syllables are supposed to fit into such a small meter, and I end up singing on a seven second delay.
I try to compensate, read the jackets of cd’s and memorize pesukim that I should really know already. When I do that I’m usually stupefied by myself, wondering how I ever sang the words I thought I heard. Once I read the lyrics, listening to the song becomes so much clearer, and I can hear the singer sing the words instead of a garble of phonemes that I had heard originally.
8th Day’sYa-Alili stumped me though. When I listened to it, I thought I heard all the words, they articulated themselves pretty well. But at the end of the first verse of “Sh-te-hay l’mazal” it sounded as though they said “Bet your bottom She-te-hay” I thought it was interesting to put it mildly, but I supposed it fit, if not totally appropriate.
I mentioned this to my husband who first burst out laughing and chalked it up to my usual “every song I sing is of my invention” malady. But he listened to the song, and he heard it too – “Bet your bottom She-te-hay”. He mentioned this to his brother who laughed, checked up the lyrics, and told us that it’s “Im yerziah Hashem by you”. I nodded in agreement, those lyrics made more sense.
Listening to the song after this revelation, I waited for that moment. The moment where I’d HEAR the correct lyrics and laugh in amazement that I ever thought I could be anything else. But that’s not what happened. I still hear “Bet your bottom”, and can’t fathom how “Im yertziah Hashem by you” can be deciphered from the vocals I heard.
I think I may have reached the point of no return from my lyrical condition.