January 29th, 2009

device

My Little Lyric Problem

So there I was this morning, humming in the shower, and wound up over on "Birdhouse in Your Soul". Which led me off on a mental tangent about lyrics.

You see, I'm not a lyrics guy. I love music deeply, and I learn tunes pretty quickly, but it's very common for me to learn the tune without ever learning the words. Even when I *do* memorize the words, I often don't think about them at all. This is a lifelong habit, dating at least back to learning Tom Lehrer's entire album "That Was The Year That Was" phonetically at age eight, fully ten years before I puzzled out what all the songs actually *meant*. It made last year's LARP Desperadoes Under the Eaves especially fascinating for me, because while I was familiar with a fair amount of Warren Zevon's music, I hadn't ever really considered the stories behind the songs until I prepped for the game.

Anyway, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" is the most extreme case of this. I adore the song -- it's my favorite song by one of my favorite groups -- and I learned the lyrics by ear well enough to mostly sing them many years ago, while having not the slightest idea what the song was talking about. Truth to tell, even if I *had* thought about it, I probably wouldn't have gotten it: the song is essentially structured as a classic riddle, and while it's not a particularly difficult one, I am *dreadful* at riddles. (It's just not the way my brain works.) When someone told me in passing what the song was about, I found it weirdly hilarious in a rather "Commander Data finally gets the joke" kind of way.

So I find myself idly curious about how much of an outlier I am, and that, as always, calls for a silly poll! If you know the song, please take a second to answer the following.
Poll #1339813 Birdhouse in Your Poll

Do you know what the song Birdhouse in Your Soul is talking about? (Specifically, who is the speaker?)

Sure, I thought it was obvious
17(37.8%)
Yes, although not until I sat down and thought about the lyrics for a bit
9(20.0%)
Yes, because somebody told me
7(15.6%)
No idea
12(26.7%)
device

Inappropriate reinforcement

Intellectually, I know that I should be strict about Jedi climbing up onto the top of the back of the chair behind me. It's distracting, and I really can't allow him to do it most of the time. Letting him do it for a little while *some* of the time simply provides intermittent reinforcement, which is absolutely the worst way to teach him not to.

But it's so damned *cute*. And warm against my shoulders. Being disciplined with cats is very difficult sometimes...