Tonight wild heights we’ll hit

My hearing sucks. My long slide into a muffled world started decades ago. Early on, my propensity to turn up the TV volume annoyed my family. My endless stream of misheard words and missed statements frustrated my coworkers. “WHAT?” Hearing loss isn’t linear. Some frequencies fade faster than others. Like most people, I first lost the high range.

For a period, a prank circled the office. A tiny digital clock’s alarm could be programmed to sound daily for a few minutes. When shoved deep into someone’s file cabinet drawer, they would hear the alarm but couldn’t find the clock. What fun watching people go nuts tearing their office apart looking for the curs’ed clock. One day, my coworker Sue came into my office. “Haven’t you found it yet?” I shook my head, unsure what she was talking about. The clock had been in my office for a week. I couldn’t hear the beeping. Joke’s on them. It could have stayed there forever without bothering me. I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about six years. Things are better now, but nowhere near perfect.  

When did this start? Why did this start? It’s hard to say. My father has significant hearing loss, but he says it isn’t hereditary. He references some youthful damage to set his hearing loss in motion. Injury? Illness? Loud noises? If he told me, I forget. My two older brothers hear fine. So acquired, not genetic.

Right out of college, I bought a car for one thousand bucks. This was 1984, money was different then. I installed a $250 stereo system that could rattle your teeth. And for years, I drove that car all over the east coast with the volume all the way up—cranked to eleven as they used to say. Hearing loss? No doubt. In 1995, I was hit by a car while riding my bike. Joint damage, internal bleeding and a head injury that rebooted my brain. I wouldn’t be the first person to lose their hearing after a brain injury. So I don’t know what caused it. Something or nothing. Or maybe it goes all the way back to birth.

One of the first shows I remember watching is the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Some of the others are Star Trek, Bewitched and the FBI starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. That’s what they always said: starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. “The FBI starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr will return after these brief messages.” I don’t know what was such a big freaking deal about Efrem Zimbalist, Jr, but the network seemed to think they garnered much credibility by repeating his name over and over. Fifty years later, I still remember it.

Like many children’s TV shows of the era, Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour assumed a certain level of sophistication from the viewers. The jokes more likely aimed at adults than children.

“…and who might you be?”
“I might be Teddy Roosevelt, but I aint.”

 More evidence is in the theme song “This is It.” Clearly not written for six-year-old me.

Bugs and Daffy Duck strut onto an open stage, straw hat and cane, a scene that now brings to mind Dick Van Dyke’s Me Ol’ Bamboo dance in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

This is It

Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart

Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, we’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it.
Tonight what heights we’ll hit.
On with the show, this is it.

Clever lyrics, thoughtful. A lot is said in those two stanzas, but with sentiment and subtlety lost on a child—too mature. And in my case, even the words were lost on me. After the word “Overture” I never had any idea what they said. I just couldn’t discern the lyrics. This problem has been with me my entire life. In Elton John’s Benny and the Jets, Benny had electric boobs and a motor scooter.*  Deep Purple’s woman is a T.K.O, she makes me sick.**  And AC/DC sang about dirty deeds and the Dunder Chief.***

I often wonder if my inability to hear contributed to my abysmal performance in school. If true, when coupled with my welldocumented low-scoring reading comprehension, it’s sort of remarkable I ever graduated high school. Fast-forward to today. Eli, at sixteen, listens to many of the same songs that were popular when I was in high school. He seems to have no trouble at all with the lyrics. In fact, not only does he hear them correctly, he commits them to memory after just one listen.

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday music prompts for September 5th are Carnival, Festival, Gala, Jamboree or Party. Bugs and Daffy strutting onto a curtained stage reminds me of something I might see during a gala. That prompt set this whole thing in motion. Yes, I recognize that September 5th is still six days away, but today’s the day I have off work, so today’s the day I write.

Midway through writing this post, singing This is It in my head, I came up with the title. What a great song lyric: Tonight wild heights we’ll hit. Later it occurred to me that I should double check the written lyrics. Yup, I got it wrong again. Tonight *what* heights we’ll hit… It never ends.

Song Lyric Sunday: I think misheard lyrics are almost as important as the correct ones.

* Electric boots and a mohair suit
** My woman from Tokyo, she makes me see
*** Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap

23 thoughts on “Tonight wild heights we’ll hit

  1. Definitely like this one Sunday.

    I killed a few of my sparse hearing cells last night at the show, but I’ve been disadvantaged in the hearing department since infancy. Scarlet Fever knock out my high range, so I wouldn’t have been bothered by the alarm either😂

    I’m horrible at song lyrics and love that I can look them up quickly and easily on my phone. Movies have to have subtitles… I really should look into hearing aids, but Medicare doesn’t cover them soooo 🤷🏼‍♀️ I tell people I’m in regular contact that they have to speak up if they expect more than a smile and blank look from me😂

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    • My insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids either. I find it odd that the inability to hear isn’t a medical condition. They’re coming down in price, my second pair was half as much money as my first pair but they are still unbearably expensive. We use subtitles too.

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  2. I was diagnosed as having a 90% hearing loss when I was about six or seven but it was partially restored following the removal of my adenoids. I’ve always struggled with hearing clearly and rely heavily on lip reading to supplement my hearing. I’ve had hearing aids for several years but still have difficulty using them as, being autistic, I find it impossible to isolate one sound from another, and end up processing them all as though they come from a single source.

    Here also, loss of hearing isn’t considered a medical condition, but hearing loss not caused by illness or “natural processes” are covered under our no fault accident compensation system. Go figure. However, if you’re over 65 the government subsidises the cost of hearing aids once every 5 years up to about $600 if I recall correctly.

    There’s probably many lyrics I’ve mis heard, the the one that sticks most in my head for some reason is one my sister mistook way back in 1964. In NZ Ray Columbus And The Invaders released the single “She’s A Mod”, but my sister mistook for “cheese and mud”. Even though I caught the words clearly then, since discovering my sister’s mistake I can’t help hearing “cheese and mud” any time the song is played.

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    • Cheese and mud is a great misheard lyric. My first pair of haring aids I got about six years ago, They were about $2500 and while better than nothing, they weren’t that great. My new hearing aids, a year old were *only* $1500 and they are really pretty amazing. I’d call them life changing. I’m pretty ticked off that I need to deal with this but I’m also really thankful that my hearing is mostly correctable. A blogger I follow that had a TBI has a hearing issue that isn’t correctable. Next time I’ll write about how screwed up my eyes are. truly a damaged model.

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  3. I know that I sing some songs incorrectly. The other day I was out and heard Close to Me by the Cure playing. There are parts I don’t even know what I am saying and just making sounds that rhyme with whatever the lyrics are. I like listening to Catelyn sing too. Some of the things she thinks the singer is saying is hilarious to listen to. My favorite though is when a co-worker and I were trying to determine the lyrics to White Winged Dove and went to our boss to side with either one of us on what were the correct lyrics. She listened and then said, “She doesn’t say white winged dove – she says wild ranger.” I guess messed up lyrics are funny to me. I do miss the meanings of a lot of songs though because of my “guess what they are saying and go with it” mentality.

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    • I always, including 3 minutes ago, thought the song was called One Winged Dove. I was hoping for more comments with botched lyrics. They are usually pretty funny. A guy from college told me that by the end of his winter break, his little brother was walking around the house singing Twist & Crawl by the English Beat… but he was singing Juicy frog, juicy frog, juicy frog…

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      • It is – I just made Declan breakfast and thought “Wait a sec – it’s One Winged Dove.” I guess the error fits! I love botched lyrics too. They crack me up and the song becomes something new.

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  4. Well thanks for clearing that up for me, I also thought the lyric was “electric boobs.” My favourite ever misheard lyric was my friend in high school to Macy Grey’s I Try: “I blow bubbles when you are not near.” (“My world crumbles when you are not near.”)

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  5. Hey, unrelated kind of, but I finished a book on Patti Smith’s Horses and remembered your post about Free Money. I’m starting to get it, finally. And related to hearing loss I’m planning to listen to that track Land with headphones one of these days. What kind of freaking trip was she on? And a natural trip, too. I’ve got tinnitus from screwing around with guns w/o ear protection so I guess I deserve that. And triggered by a Sonic Youth record I can pinpoint it to also. So there’s that. The high notes as you say, those squealing guitars…

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    • Funny, when people ask me about my hearing loss, I always reference a sonic youth show I went to in 2002. Absurdly loud. I now use my hearing aids as blue tooth headphones when I drive. The other day my wife said, you know, we can all hear your music. I was playing the Pistols I Wanna be Me–maybe a little too loudly.

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  6. I remember the whole Efrem Zimbalist, Jr thing too – loved that show. And the Looney Tunes song is a classic. And it is fun, and somewhat disconcerting, when you find out you’ve been singing the wrong lyrics for years…

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  7. I am absolutely awful at remembering (even hearing correctly?) song lyrics. I don’t know why. I don’t have hearing loss that I know of. I think I am just too visual a learner. My husband Dan could remember lyrics easily, despite the fact that he had an aural processing disorder for spoken word that haunted his school performance. Brains are so interesting.

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    • Hmmm, I wonder if I have an aural processing disorder? One more thing to add to the list. I Can’t remember lyrics. I can’t sing my way through any songs except the little four line songs from when I was a kid. Brains are interesting. My wife and I bemoan the fact that there is essentially one method of learning that is expected in K-12 (auditory) Visual and tactile learners are at a distinct disadvantage.

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      • Ha, I’m done worrying about myself. I’ve got a pretty good idea of my strengths and weaknesses, I’m becoming quite adept at working around the weaknesses. But i do get frustrated with the schooling model of sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher. I Know things have improved since I was a kid, but still, there needs to be more understanding and acceptance of people who uptake information differently. I know some large school systems have programs that have developed this sort of thing. My tiny town, not so much.

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  8. I had forgotten all about Efrem Zimbalist, Jr but then the memory came rushing right back when I read your post. For a hot minute, he was all over the place. Love the nod to Looney Tunes, wonderful memories.

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