Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Misheard Lyrics: Paper Cotton

Posted by verywellthen on January 17, 2009

Over on Joe Poznanski’s ostensibly-baseball website, he asks for song lyrics the way you heard them which are better than the actual song lyrics. Here was my response:

In the Replacements “Bastards of Young”, the consensus lyrics on the web are

Dreams unfulfilled, you graduate unskilled
It beats picking cotton and waiting to be forgotten.

Long before I saw the above lyrics in writing, I crafted my own last line out of Paul Westerberg’s garbled vocals.

With a piece of paper cotten, waiting to be forgotten.

To me, the “paper cotten” was a diploma. It’s an admittedly awkward construction to get to a rhyme. The more accurate “cotten paper” would describe a higher grade paper that a diploma might be printed on.

The diploma reference dovetails nicely with the “graduate unskilled.” More importantly, it Westerbergianly states that no diploma will save you from being forgotten.

Compare this to the consensus lyric, where the unskilled graduate narrator a) will not be doing hard labor and b) will not be the one who is forgotten, it’s the cotton-picker that will be. On relisten, I concede that the consensus lyrics are correct, but I like mine better. But who I am to second guess the epistles of St. Paul.

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One Response to “Misheard Lyrics: Paper Cotton”

  1. Hmm, I’ll have to send Joe my commentary on Liz Phair’s “Fuck and Run”. Accepted lyrics to the chorus are:

    I want a boyfriend
    I want a boyfriend
    I want all that stupid old shit
    Like letters and sodas

    I, however, am partial to my own, slightly poetic version:

    I want all that stupid old shit
    Its fetters and solace.

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