“Hey . . . what is this? Why is everybody here?” Walter Franks said as he slowly closed the hotel room door behind him.
Walter’s son Peter sat in a chair next to a couch where his wife Elaine and daughter Megan were beckoning him to sit between them. A stranger, a man of about 40 with a warm smile, extended his hand and Walter reluctantly shook it.
“Walter, my name is Justin Hurtado, please come join your family,” the man said, leading him by the arm. Once they both were seated, Justin continued. “I am an interventionist. Your family invited me here because they feel you need help.”
“WHAT?!” Walter shouted. “I may have a drink once a while, but I’m certainly not . . . .”
“Walter, this is not about drinking. This is about your obsession with singing the wrong song lyrics and the toll it is taking on your family. Elaine, would you start please?”
“Walter, I love you, but your wrong song lyric singing has affected me negatively our entire marriage,” Elaine said, reading from a letter she had prepared beforehand. “It started at our wedding reception when you took over for the wedding singer and sang Toto’s ‘Africa.’ Instead of ‘I bless the rains down in Africa,’ you sang ‘I left my brains down in Africa.’ ”
“Dad, I was always SO embarrassed when you would pick me and my friends up from school,” Peter said, reading from his paper. “All of us loved Led Zeppelin, but you would butcher their lyrics. In ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ instead of ‘and as we wind on down the road,’ you would sing ‘and there’s a wino down the road.’ In ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ instead of ‘you need coolin’, baby I’m not foolin’,’ you would sing, ‘You need Kool-Aid, well maybe I made Kool-Aid.’ It was mortifying!”
Tears streamed down 17-year-old Megan’s face as she read her letter.
“During the karaoke at my Sweet 16 party last year you refused to look at the lyrics to the songs,” Megan said.
“They were Beatles songs!” Walter interrupted. “I know all the words!”
“Really? Well, I have news for you, dad! It’s ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ not ‘Lucy’s Gettin’ High With Linus!’ Megan shouted. “And in ‘Michelle,’ Paul McCartney sings part of the chorus in French. He’s not saying ‘Michelle, ma belle, some say monkeys play piano well!’ ”
“Let’s all take a deep breath,” Justin said. “Walter, your family loves you and just wants to see you get help.”
“I don’t need help,” Walter said. “What the heck kind of help is there, anyway?
“Well, as I said, I am an interventionist. I am from kissthisguy.com, a website that is the archive of misheard song lyrics,” Justin said. “We are named after the Jimi Hendrix lyric in ‘Purple Haze,’ ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.’ In addition to posting misheard lyrics, we are now working on prevention.”
Justin turned on a projector connected to a laptop on the coffee table and a PowerPoint presentation appeared on the wall.
“This is a sample of our new Intensive Song Lyric Clarification Therapy. At our facility, you will hear the whole song with all of the correct lyrics projected, and common incorrect ones – but this sample will just give you snippets,” Justin said.
The slides started and included:
The Eagles “Hotel California” – Correct: “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair.”
Incorrect: “On a dark desert highway, Cool Whip in my hair.”
Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” – Correct: “Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky.”
Incorrect: “Slow-talking Walter, the fire-engine guy.”
Elton John “Tiny Dancer” – Correct: “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.”
Incorrect: “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.”
The Weathergirls ”It’s Raining Men” – Correct: “It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men!”
Incorrect: “Israeli men! Hallelujah! Israeli men!”
Walter’s denial was strong, but he finally broke down and admitted he needed help. Before agreeing to go, he had to know if the line from Steve Miller’s “The Joker” was correct, though.
“Is it the . . . pompatus of love?” Walter asked.
Justin smiled. “Yes. That one is correct.”
Walter broke into tears, and so began his recovery.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.