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.