Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Rollin’ on the River, Everybody Must Get Stoned, My Country ‘Tis of Thee and so many more. (Seven more.)
I recently caught the old It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia episode where the guys get real jobs at a company and try to turn their experience into a The Secret of My Success-style con up the corporate ladder. They keep referencing the song “Day Bow Bow” from that movie (and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Which is the right song to reference… it’s the one that goes “Day bow bow chick-chick-a-chicka. Day Bow Bow. Ohhhh yeaahhh.”
As I was watching, I realized I, like them, had no idea what the “Day Bow Bow” song was really called. Turns out it’s Oh Yeah by a group called Yello. Who knew? Even the guys from Yello probably forgot.
Here are 11 other song titles people don’t know or always get wrong. Ohhhh yeeeaaaahhhhh.
1 | Teenage Wasteland by The Who is really Baba O’Riley
Not only is this (probably) the most frequently mistaken song title of all time, the song ALSO got the shaft by being relegated to CSI: New York. I mean, Won’t Get Fooled Again was completely resurrected thanks to David Caruso so poignantly removing his sunglasses before tossing to the credits with pun-laden wordplay. Meanwhile Baba O’Riley stagnated with and died, shelved away on the least popular of the three CSIs.
2 | Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire by Mel Torme is really The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)
I know this song was originally recorded in the 1940s, but if I didn’t know better, I’d say the Velvet Fog went with the title The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) for search engine optimization purposes.
3 | Memories by Barbra Streisand is really The Way We Were
I’m guessing people who remember the movie The Way We Were don’t screw this title up. Or maybe they DO… as they try to erase that film from their… memories. Bam.
4 | Ground Control to Major Tom by David Bowie is really Space Oddity
David Bowie never did a song called “Major Tom.” He did reference a fictional astronaut character (or, perhaps, metaphorical drug addict) named Major Tom in three songs, most famously Space Oddity. I’m not sure if Major Tom knew Ziggy Stardust or not, maybe they both could go on Double Dare and win trips to Space Camp? Anyway, all of this madness and confusion and androgynous galactical romanticism seems to line up nicely with early David Bowie.
5 | My Country ‘Tis of Thee by Samuel Francis Smith is really America
The song was originally titled America but eventually was referred to as My Country ‘Tis of Thee so often that became its de facto name. Kind of like how I’m sure Jaleel White now begrudgingly but defeatedly answers to Steve Urkel.
6 | Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland is really Over the Rainbow
And a few other nitpicky semantic ones for ya: Roy Orbison did Oh, Pretty Woman… Kansas did Carry On Wayward Son (with no “My” in there), Rod Stewart did Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?… a million Christmas albums feature Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!… and New Kids on the Block did You Got It (The Right Stuff).
7 | Everybody Must Get Stoned by Bob Dylan is really Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35
In everyone’s defense, he *does* use the word “stone” or “stoned” in almost every single line of the song — and never once mentions rain, a woman, the number 12 OR the number 35. (The word “and” only gets seven uses.)
8 | Rollin’ on the River by Credence Clearwater Revival is really Proud Mary
It might be easier to tell it’s called Proud Mary in the CCR version (rather than the Tina Turner version) because they don’t have the crazy dance breakdown three-quarters of the way through complete with memorable “rollin'” arm circles. Although John Fogerty mostly sounds like he’s singing, “Gowwwweeed Mary” so I guess it’s a wash.
9 | Call On Me by Steve Winwood is really Valerie
I know no one reading has listened to this song in 25 years. Many of you weren’t even alive 25 years ago. But I have been listening to Steve Winwood the entire time I’ve been writing this list, and he deserves to be included. He never gets the nostalgia attention he deserves. He must sit there every day, angrily wondering why Rick Astley got the retro irony bump that could’ve been his.
10 | What’s Going On? by 4 Non Blondes is really What’s Up?
This is an easy mistake since, clearly, the lyrics contain the phrase, “what’s going on?” several times and never once say, “what’s up?” The most common theory is that the song was supposed to have the more logical title but they didn’t want to step on the toes of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. My theory is that the record company pulled an 11th hour switch to What’s Up? because it seemed more trendy. Remember 1993? EVERYONE was saying “What’s up.” At least I think people were. I was too busy saying cooler catchphrases like “Cha-ching” and “Did I do that?”
11 | I Would Walk 500 Miles by the Proclaimers is really I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Another one-hit wonder who screwed up the title of their only song. This one is the most disappointing to me. It would be like if Life is a Highway was really called All Night Long (I Wanna Ride It) or Hangin’ Tough was really called You’re Doin’ It (Hangin’ Tough).
Chick — chick-a-chicka.