Steve Miller's line about "the pompatus of love" is far from the only lyric to confuse readers. One of the songs that comes up over and over is "Blinded by the Light," written by Bruce Springsteen, but famously performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. You know the confusion: Wrapped up like a douche? Little Early Pearly with his anus curly wurly? A Nutter Butter in the night? Just what the heck was going on in that song, anyway?
Here are the lyrics as Springsteen originally wrote them. Here are the ones Manfred Mann sings. Start with the infamous "douche" line, which, of course, doesn't really mention a feminine-hygiene product at all. The Boss sang, "yeah he was blinded by the light, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night..." By "deuce" he meant a hot rod, a little deuce coupe, like the Beach Boys sang about.
When Manfred Mann sang the song, they came out with "revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night." Manfred Mann repeats the lyric many more times than Bruce did, and changes other lyrics too, but most of all, the lyric comes out kinda slurry, hence the "douche/deuce" misunderstanding. The Wikipedia entry on the song notes that some have blamed singer Chris Thompson's New Zealand accent for the misunderstanding, but they're not buying it.
The confusion even extended to the much-simpler "another runner in the night" line. Don't miss the misheard-lyric versions on KissThisGuy.com, which include:
• "Dressed up like a dude, another roller in the night."
• "Wrapped up like a douche, I knew their owner every night."
• "Racked up like a douche, another lover in the night."
• "Wake up like a douche, or a rubber in the night."
• "Torn up like a douche, another stoner in the night."
• "Wrap up the old deuce, a Nutter Butter in the night."
• "Wrapped up like a douche, another rumor in the night."
The rest of the lyrics, a delightful jumble of stream-of-consciousness, don't exactly clear things up. SongFacts.com hosts some entertaining and heated debate on the issue, too.
Claims one person on SongFacts: " 'Go-Kart Mozart was checkin' out the weather charts, etc.' is somewhat cryptic but translates thus. "checkin' out the weather charts' refers to the song 'Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.' Go-Kart Mozart is the writer of the song, who raced go-karts at that time. The lyric refers to Gordon Lightfoot." Um. OK? So...since Springsteen wrote the song, HE is Go-Kart Mozart, but somehow there's a Lightfoot reference. I'm not following.
Another infamous line is "And little Early-Pearly came by in his curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride." The consensus online, as much as anyone can agree online, is that "curly-wurly" means a helicopter, but many people hear that line as "little Early Pearly with his anus curly-wurly," which is just a thought I don't really need to explore, thank you. And some claim "curly-wurly" means a curly hairdo, not a chopper. (Also, in Springsteen's official lyrics, "Early Pearly" is a she, but Manfred Mann changes it to "he," not that it matters.)
The meaning of the song is about as fiercely debated as the lyrics. Wikipedia claims it's about characters Springsteen met while playing small bars on the Jersey Shore. Some say it's really Springsteen's epic diss of the music industry. Other theories include that it's about a kid running away, underage sex, Saint Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, or hard drugs.
Whatever the meaning, it's darn catchy, and is bound to live forever on the list of "songs we all sing differently." The calliope crashed to the ground, indeed.
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