John Strausbaugh

New York Press
July 2002, Volume 15, Issue 32

"In and around the lake, marmots come out of the sky and they stand there..." A friend of mine thought that’s what Yes was singing, well into his adult years. For months I thought the refrain to "Doo Wop (That Thing)" was "Cathleen." That seemed so sweet, Lauryn Hill singing an ode to a nice Irish-Catholic girlfriend of hers, that when I learned the real words the song’s appeal was greatly diminished for me.

That’s the thing about misheard lyrics: besides being so funny, they can be weirdly more right than the right lyrics. I love the image of those marmots dropping out of the sky and then standing around. Beats the hell out of the original’s mushy symbolism.

New York Press contributor and WFMU DJ Kenneth Goldsmith has put out a new little book that weds his musical interests with his mania for oddball lists (in previous books he’s listed every word he said in a week, every gesture he made in a day, etc.). Head Citations (The Figures, 88 pages, $10) lists 800 misheard lyrics he culled from various sources. He readily admits this has been done before in books like He’s Got the Whole World in His Pants and When a Man Loves a Walnut, as well as on websites like and Still, it’s great to have so many funny lines in one handy pocket-size book you can take into the subway or whip out when your stoner friends come over. Here are a few samples:

"Oh, we are sailing, yes, give Jesus pants."

"No one knows what it’s like to be the fat man."

"Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue."

"Gimme the Beach Boys and free my soul."

"Like a Ken Doll in the wind."

"Hey you, get off of my cow."

"I fight with Dorothy, and Dorothy always wins."

"Hold me closer, Tony Danza."

"You can’t always get a Chihuahua."

"Pulling muscles with Michelle."

And, of course, "She’s giving me head citations."


(Available only through Small Press Distribution,

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