I don’t know about you, but I find songs are always getting stuck inside my head – really lodged in there. I’d suppose this ability to get under the skin is the sign of a good tune. It must be gratifying for songwriters to walk through a supermarket and hear their track sung aloud by a fellow customer – however out of tune they are.

That said, I find it’s not just the ‘cool’ stuff that escapes my mouth. I’m more likely to walk around a DIY superstore singing the jingle for a new toothpaste than Jay Z’s latest track. Since becoming a father, I’ve found myself singing the lyrics of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and ‘Old MacDonald’ while waiting to be served in the pub. It’s led to me getting a few funny looks, I’ll tell you. Recently, one landlord had to break it to me that his jukebox didn’t contain nursery rhymes. I was devastated, obviously.

When it comes to impromptu performances there’s one area that time and again causes a lot of contention: lyrics. It seems people are constantly mishearing lyrics. Famously, Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze included the phrase: ‘Excuse me while I kiss the sky’ which so many wrongly thought was: ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy’. It’s easily done, I often only discover the correct lyrics to a song as they appear on screen during a karaoke session.

Recently I was standing at a bus stop when I overheard a conversation about lyrics. It really made me smile.

Friends Molly and Diane are waiting for a bus. Molly absent-mindedly hums Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking of you’:

Diane: Love that song.
Molly: Oh yeah. Me too.
Diane: It’s the best song about Devon ever!

Molly can’t hide her surprise.

Molly: Sorry?
Diane: I just love it that they’re singing about Devon.

Molly is amazed.

Molly: They’re not.
Diane: Yes they are.
Molly: Listen to me, Sister Sledge didn’t sing a song about Devon.
Diane: “I’m thinking of you, and the things you do to me. That makes me love you. Now I’m living in Exeter.”
Molly: Ecstasy not Exeter!
Diane: Wrong! It’s definitely Exeter!

Chris McGuire is a Devon-based writer. He wishes more songs were written about Exeter. Find him on twitter: @McGuireski

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