You mean he’s not bi?

File this one (like SO many things) under, “Things the rest of the world already knows about, that I just discovered” …

But first, a wee back-story is necessary. On the other side of a wall in the college tutoring room is the prep room for the cafeteria. The cafeteria workers like to listen to the radio, especially an “oldies” station. Every now and then we get treated to noise bleed between the rooms, especially on the weekend when they assume that no one’s in the tutoring room.

Today I had to stand and present (lecture) for five hours. There’s an hour’s break between the two classes for me to eat lunch, change rooms, and get set up all over again for the second class. Sometimes I take lunch in the second classroom, but when I heard one of the morning students say that she was also taking the afternoon class, I knew I had to seek refuge elsewhere. Lunch time is when I get some very-necessary “down” time to rest my voice, be alone, and de-stress by sitting and rocking and cruising the ‘net. I like answering questions, but I really don’t want to spend my precious down time trying to engage in idle chit-chat.

So I sought refuge in the empty tutoring room where I could eat alone and use the computer. Meanwhile, the cafeteria people were clattering and chattering on the other side of the wall, with the radio playing. Halfway through sliced peaches I froze, catching fragments of a song I hadn’t heard in years. I jotted a note to myself to look up the song later on. Because Yes, I have discovered that there are several sites on the Web where people post song lyrics. Amazing! Though, not surprising — you can find dang near anything on “Teh Interwebs”.

One of the problems with my [Central] Auditory Processing Disorder is that I cannot understand most song lyrics. There are only a few performers whose vocal range, diction and instrumental styles mesh to create songs that have intelligible lyrics, rather than what I usually hear, which is music with words mingled (or mangled) into the sounds of the instruments.

So for the past year I have been hearing old songs, jotting down a few key words, and then later on typing those keywords into Google in hopes of getting something close enough to yield an accurate result. (Sometimes the results are painful. It’s not that I don’t get results, but I have found that there are a lot of songs with “covers” by various performers. For all I cannot understand the lyrics, I do have a sharp sense of pitch and hearing someone else’s voice and all the minor differences in instrumentation makes those recordings just sound all wrong. Like an “imprinted” goose, there’s only one True Version for me.)

But usually I find what the song title is. And the performer! And the band! You see, all through school I did not know most of the music I was hearing. It never seemed to be announced when I listened on the radio, and I lacked the social circles that would have introduced me to the pop music culture.

While sitting there eating the rest of my peaches I strained in vain to catch the lyrics. Sure, there’s that wall between us, and the cooking noises. But this was also a song I had heard numbers of times back in the early ’70’s. Damn, no good. Already feeling glazed over from the morning’s first 2 1/2 hours of present, I caught nothing more than in all the previous years. And then, the song was over and it was time for me to pack up my lunch. Time get ready for the next two and a half hours of educating and informing, of being entertaining, and constantly engaging with a group of strangers all focused upon me.

Finally back at home hours later, I made hot food to sooth my throat. Finally free to noodle through both lyrics sites and my soup … Ah-ha! It’s “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (yet another added to the burgeoning mental folder “Only like a few of their works”).
The song came out in 1966, and as a young child the only words I understood was from the chorus, “I’ll be what I am, A solitary man”. I clung to it amazed: Here was someone singing about being alone!

Loneliness-as-pain is a pervasive theme in arts. Pop music cheerfully burbling from the tinny car radio, broadcasters focused upon catchy, feel-good tunes  light-hearted longing and falling in love; even breakup songs were positively upbeat with sugared-over attitude.

, and this song as a declaration (even accepting affirmation) of being alone-by-choice,
seeded a small idea, the seemingly negligible and un-named weed that persisted out of sight whilst
I wasn’t freakishly lost among millions of humans for feeling so alone. (, but it would be well over a decade before I learned about extroversion / introversion — and even then, the introverts were still perceived as immature or broken extroverts.)

Finishing up my soup, I looked up the lyrics. Boy, I was off worse than usual. You know, there are some songs that are notorious for being misunderstood by lots of people; apparently entire audiences mis-heard Jimi Hendrix sing, ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy in “Purple Haze”. The difference is that I misunderstand almost every song I’ve heard. The others where I don’t misunderstand a number of words are the ones where I can’t even catch enough words to guess at phrases.

Like this one. A decade after it was released, I was a more sophisticated young adult and getting better at catching words among background noise. I figured out more about the story behind the lyrics that bracketed the chorus. Well, I thought the protagonist was bisexual, because this is what I had (by then) puzzled out the rest of the words to be:

Bewilderment was mine
‘Til the time that I floundered
Holding Jim, loving him.
Then Sue came along
Loved me strong, that’s what I thought.
Me and Sue, liked that, too.
Don’t know that I will, but until I can finally
Agree to stay and won’t play gay.
Remind me,
I’ll be what I am:
a solitary man, a solitary man, a solitary man.
I’ve had it to here, bein’ where love’s a small word,
Part-time thing, hate or rain.
I know it’s been done, having one girl who loves you,
Right or wrong, we’d go strong.
Don’t know that I will, but until I can finally
Agree to stay and won’t play gay.
Remind me,
I’ll be what I am:
a solitary man, a solitary man, a solitary man.
(et cetera — repeats)

I was just a little off. Well, conceptually, a lot off. Here’s the real lyrics:

Melinda was mine ’til the time that I found her
Holdin’ Jim
And lovin’ him
Then Sue came along, loved me strong, that’s what I thought
But me and Sue,
That died, too.
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
I’ve had it to here – being where love’s a small world
A part time thing
A paper ring
I know it’s been done havin’ one girl who loves you
Right or wrong
Weak or strong
Don’t know that I will but until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
A solitary man
A solitary man
(et cetera)

Funny thing is, sometimes I like my versions better. They’re often a lot more interesting …



  1. 15 October 2014 at 2:16

    I just found your blog and a lot of this puts into words things I could never quite explain. I’m going to have to do more research for APD because it’s quite frustrating to not understand people and have to explain to them I heard their words but couldn’t comprehend what they were. Most of the time I just repeat back what I heard and it results in something similar to your music lyrics example.

  2. Amber said,

    28 August 2009 at 3:56

    I remember as a kid ( long before I was diagnosed with APD) I thought that song “Kyrie” was “Carrie” and was about Carrie Fisher who played as Princess Leia in Star Wars. I thought it was some guy was singing:

    “Carrie Fisher I love you but there is the road I most travel! Carrie Fisher I’ll fight the dark site with my light saber in the night! Carrie Fisher I’ll protect you with my Jedi light saber against the dark side on the highway in the night!”


  3. Julie said,

    26 August 2009 at 3:38

    Thank you for posting your story. I’ve just recently learned that I, along with my daughter, have APD. Your story sounded like a very familiar story to me and while I am going through a sort of grieving process right now, it’s comforting to know that there is a name for what I’ve experienced all these years, that I’m not just lazy and/or stupid and that I am not truly alone.

  4. Daphne said,

    21 August 2009 at 1:52

    Def Leppard, I’m about 6 or 7, and I hear “Poison sugar on me”.
    My family tries to correct me. Often.
    No, really, it’s “Poison sugar on me.” That’s what I heard, that’s what it is.
    It took me until I was in COLLEGE to finally get that the song was “Pour some sugar on me”!

    And have you tried figuring out any songs by Seal? Sheesh!!!! And he doesn’t give lyrics in his liner notes because he thinks he’s clear enough. Riiight….

    Andrea, I’m in the same boat as you are musically. I’m a music teacher, I can hear high and low sounds, even the whine of a TV when you turn it on and it’s muted, but I can’t understand song lyrics. Sometimes I get my husband to translate for me. Makes for fun Mondegreens, though.

  5. LisaDroesdov said,

    3 March 2008 at 16:47

    I like yours better too!

  6. qw88nb88 said,

    2 March 2008 at 16:02

    David (and laurentius-rex) said, “Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard… ”

    No-no-no — I think the line from Bohemian Rhapsody goes, “the algebra has a devil for disciple.” ha ha ha.

    Mondegreens, indeed!


  7. 2 March 2008 at 13:54

    Mondegreens eh.

    I must admit that I made the same surrealistic mistake with Bohemian Rhapsody.

  8. dkmnow said,

    2 March 2008 at 11:12

    Well, you know what they say, David … “Reality is the ultimate Rorschach.” :-p

    Justthisguy, to me, your comment immediately evoked Robert Plant. Otherwise, most of my musical tastes haved steered me clear of the unintelligible. 70’s/80’s prog, such as Rush and Yes, plus a bit of Kansas — most of my faves were pretty meticulous about sound quality and such — plus lots of instrumental, jazz/fusion, etc. But one from that general grouping who always killed me was John Wetton, especially on the first “UK” album. Absolutely loved the composition in that, but despised not being able to sing it — because I could never figure out the bloody lyrics! And after about twenty years of trying, that one gave rise to an hypothesis: most singers who mumble and slur their way through songs do so because they know the lyrics suck! And, Dear God, did Wetton’s lyrics ever suck…

    But of course, none of that applies to Plant — he was just plain sh*tfaced.


  9. 2 March 2008 at 8:46

    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody: “Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard… ”

    I tend to think that the mis-heard lyric is much more interesting, too.

  10. Justthisguy said,

    2 March 2008 at 6:30

    It’s always seemed to me, that rock and roll musicians deliberately go out of their way to mumble and obfuscate the words in their songs. When I think of singing, I think of a bunch of guys standing around the piano in the Officers’ Mess, singing well-known old songs like Garryowen, or “The Bonny Blue Flag”, or something.

    I don’t listen to vocal music, but only to instrumental music.

    Vocal music is what you do, not what you listen to. When I am somewhere and the Star-Spangled Banner is played, I sing it. Yes, I can do that, even at my age, with my tobacco-and-drink-raddled larynx.

    Oh, I should repeat here, what I’ve said elsewhere: There’s nothing wrong with any rock-and-roll electrically amplified band which couldn’t be easily fixed with a Thompson and a fire axe

  11. qw88nb88 said,

    2 March 2008 at 5:27

    You’re quite right about the difficulty in re-learning the lyrics anew. The Kid also has APD, and misheard one song line as, “you f–g tomato” instead of “you f–g tornado”. Of course, now all of us mis-hear the line as tomato — we giggle every time he plays the song.

    “holding gin” … wow. That would have really bothered me, too: cards or liquor, cards or liquor?

    There just aren’t enough liner notes with the lyrics in albums!


  12. Bev said,

    2 March 2008 at 4:59

    That’s pretty funny. I used to think the woman in question had fallen in love with another man during a card game. I was sure the lyric said “Holding gin / and loving him.” It bothered me quite a bit that “gin” has more than one meaning. She could have been drinking when she met this guy, but I decided the writer would have said “drinking gin” if that’s what he’d meant.

  13. S.L. said,

    2 March 2008 at 4:52

    I always have a laugh when I find out the real lyrics when I’ve been oh so wrong. It’s often difficult to then replace the wrong lines with the correct ones. I have to say, I love your version–way more interesting!

    Thank you, also, for sharing your personal experience with Auditory Processing Disorder, it’s greatly appreciated.

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