Living ain't wrong with an excised song (Cleveland rocks!)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/02 10:16 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/10/02/5234209.aspx


So I was telling somebody about how I had just been in Cleveland visting family and spending time with my nieces, he asked me about that theme song on The Drew Carey Show with the wierd lyrics like "living in sin with a safety pin".

The song is by Ian Hunter and is perhaps a good example of how people use songs and don't care that the meaning of the song is hurt by the altered song.

I'll show you what I mean. Here are the lyrics to the theme song:

All this energy callin' me,
Back where it comes from
It's such a crude attitude,
It's back where it belongs.
All the little chicks with the crimson LIPS go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Livin' in sin with a safety pin goin'
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks!
OHIO

And there we go.

But if you look at the original lyrics in the Ian Hunter song:

All this energy callin' me,
Back where it comes from
It's such a crude attitude,
It's back where it belongs.
All the little kids growing up on the skids go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Jumpin' Jane Jean, and moonin' James Dean go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Momma knows, but she don't care. She's got her worries too.
Seven kids, and a phony affair, and the rent is due.
All the little chicks with the crimson LIPS go
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Livin' in sin with a safety pin goin'
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
I got some records from World War II
I play 'em just like me grand dad do
He was a rocker, and I am too,
Now Cleeeee-veland rocks, Now Cleveeeee-land rocks
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!
Cleveland rocks!
OHIO

Now to explain a bit further, the phrase "living in sin with a safety pin" is a slang term meaning to have a child out of wedlock (cite here). Something that makes quite a bit more sense in the context of the beginning of the second verse:

Momma knows, but she don't care. She's got her worries too.
Seven kids, and a phony affair, and the rent is due.

All lost in the contraction of the song's lyrics, and it is now slightly bereft of context and meaning....

But who cares? It's just a song, I suppose....

(Though a simple search will find lots of people asking about the meaning of that line which is quite out of place both before and after one understands the meaning!)

 

This post brought to you by (U+09cc, a.k.a. BENGALI VOWEL SIGN AU)


# MichaelDotNet on 2 Oct 2007 10:42 AM:

Cleveland Developer here, enjoying the Cleveland love! ;)

Indians all the way this year.

# Chuck on 2 Oct 2007 3:03 PM:

I think the Bengali vowel would have felt more comfortable sponsoring a post covering, say, Cincinnati...?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 2 Oct 2007 4:13 PM:

Hi Chuck,

I was wondering if anyone would pick up on my stretch here! :-)

# Goldie on 3 Oct 2007 3:35 AM:

I was about to ask about the Bengali vowel myself...I'm sure it has many a phonetic equivalent?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Oct 2007 9:10 AM:

I figured I was bejng subtle with an Indic script (like the Indians) named Bengali (like the Bengals, who are also in Ohio)....

# robert on 16 Oct 2007 3:28 AM:

Nope, that's not what the line "living in sin with a safety pin" means at all. The song was written by Ian Hunter, the former leader of Mott the Hoople, in 1977 as "England Rocks", not "Cleveland Rocks". It was re-recorded later as "Cleveland Rocks" to appeal to the US market. But the original "England Rocks" was written about the British punk rock explosion of 1977, whose adherants's main visual gimmick was to dress in clothes held together with safety pins, and sometimes to pierce themselves with safety pins. The phrase "living in sin with a safety pin" was meant by Hunter to refer to committing yourself to the punk lifestyle.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Oct 2007 7:33 AM:

In the new song, that meaning is completely gone, though?

# robert on 16 Oct 2007 3:26 PM:

"In the new song, that meaning is completely gone, though?"

Absolutely, yes. But that's what Hunter was thinking when he originally wrote it, and I guess he liked the line enough to leave it in...

# Michael S. Kaplan on 17 Oct 2007 10:07 AM:

Do you think the new additional slang meaning may have come from his rewrite? It seems like too much of a coincidence that they both came about independently!


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2007/10/03 How soon was then?

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