Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Shake that, shake that booty, let me go"

That last post was a result of me getting sidetracked from my original goal, which was to compare the lyrics of Sly & the Family Stone's 1974 song "Loose Booty" as printed in the liner notes of their recently reissued album Small Talk and in the CD booklet of the album's Japanese import, which I bought at Tower Records in Atlanta back in '96.

I first heard "Loose Booty" in May of '95, and sometime in '96 I discovered that the opening line was "Shadrach Meshach Abednego," possibly that summer when I first heard the Beastie Boys' "Shadrach," which samples "Loose Booty." But according to the lyrics in Small Talk's Japanese liner notes, the opening line is:

Shake that, shake that booty, let me go

Put the booty right up front, Japan! I like the way you think. In general I'm not very good at hearing lyrics correctly the first time, and if they're printed in a CD booklet I forget again and again to look at them when I'm confused about a particular line. And if I see the lyrics to a song I've known since I was a child but the real words don't match up with the ones I've been singing since 1981, see ya later, real lyrics. I've given those fake lyrics a loving home in my brain too long to abandon them now. Here's the first verse of "Loose Booty," Japanese style:

Well, when you're tryin' to flee from any fakin' grin
Tell you what to do, how to bring the money in
Find yourself some rich dude, let it all hang out
Get into some dancing, do what it's all about

Ha ha, hee hee! Oh, you crazy English-to-Japanese-to-English interpreter—those can't be the right words. "Any fakin' grin"? Good one.

But you tried, and that's what matters. C'mere so I can give you a condescending pat on the back. Now let's look at the official lyrics:

When you're tryin' to flee from
Any fakin' grin
Tell you what to do fun
Get in the frame of mind I'm in
Find yourself some room to
Let it all hang out
Get into some dancin'
Do what it's all about

See, Japan? You were way off with your ... wait a second ... "any fakin' grin" is correct. And Sly's "tell you what to do fun" lyric is something I would've laughed at you for passing off as real if you'd used it first. I guess I owe you—

No! Never apologize, Robert. Remember Pearl Harbor. Use that anger. After all, the greatest generation won't be around to use it much longer, so it's up to you—I mean, me—to keep the flame of hate burning for them. (Mental note: Once this post is finished, buy a brand-new Honda Accord and drive it into a tree. That'll show 'em.)

Here's the second verse in the Japanese CD's booklet:

I can be confusin', any given day
If you feel like losin', get on, find the way
Stuff will be amazin', here is all you do
How minutes turn in days in doing what I do

"Stuff will be amazin'"? Stuff is amazing, Japan. The Bible says so, but since you're already unfamiliar with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Jesus's wisecracking uncles, why should I bother to tell you the exact book and chapter where you can find the quote? (Fine, I'll give you a hint—Book of Fallopians, somewhere in the middle.)

Now the original lyrics:

Life can be confusin'
Any given day
And if you feel like losin'
Get on out the way
Results will be amazin'
Here's all you do
Minutes turn to days in
Doin' what I do

I'm losing patience here. Sly, if you don't throw me a bone soon I'm going to write a biopic and pitch it to Cuba Gooding Jr.

Do I have your attention now? His dad was the lead singer of the Main Ingredient around the same time you were at your peak. He could probably fake your stage moves well enough. It's in his blood. So don't think my threat can't become reality. Mr. Daddy Day Camp will play you on the big screen if you cross me.

Here's the final verse from the land of the rising sun:

Now I got to get on, see you in the mind
I want to stay your friend, oh, leave the blue behind
Only till you send me, watch me, all you're free
Feel good to relax it, shake it on like me

Japan, this is Sly Stone you're interpreting. He's a great lyricist. And in his heyday, refrigerator-magnet poetry didn't exist. All you're presenting here is jibber-jabber. Sly, please show these naive islanders how it's done:

Now I got to get on
See you in the mind
Don't want to see you fret on
Leave the blue behind
You owe it to yourself and
Plus and all is free
Feels good to relax and shake it off like me

"Don't want to see you fret on"? "You owe it to yourself and / Plus and all is free"? What the hell does any of that mean?!

I give up. You win, Japan. I mean, you already conquered American culture in the 1980s with your cars and your electronics and your huge corporations like Sony, which bought out CBS Records and subsidiary labels like Epic Records, which of course Sly and the Family Stone used to be on. And now Sony is reissuing Sly's albums with brand-new liner notes and reprinted lyrics and ...

Oh. Muh. Guh.

I've been had.

Will the real Sly Stone lyrics for "Loose Booty" please stand up? Do you even exist? I really am going to have to listen to the song closely for once just to make sure the Small Talk reissue's lyrics are correct. Proofreading isn't high on the list of record labels' priorities these days. Maybe that's because just trying to stay alive in the age of declining CD sales is the top priority.

I have to hand it to you, Japan. It would be an honor to receive a condescending pat on the back from you. Plus I paid full price to see Sony's Spider-Man 3 back in May, and I didn't get my money's worth. Then again, Sony spent something like $400 million just to get that bloated sequel into theaters, and it'll take a long time for them to earn a profit from it.

Let's just call it even, shall we? I need to wrap this up and get down to the nearest Honda dealership.

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