• Marie McKinsey

Two Happy Songs with Unhappy Lyrics

Updated: Mar 9

Sometimes all we know of a song is the chorus. If we don't know the words to the rest of the song, or the words are in a language we don't understand, it can be a big surprise to hear the entire song, and realize that it's quite different than we thought.


Here's an example. When I was in a folk singing group, this was a song we thought we loved and wanted to sing. But when we read the lyrics, instead of sunshine, we saw something darker. What did he mean by "you'll regret it all some day?" Was that a threat? Creepy.


You Are My Sunshine


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are grey You’ll never know dear, how much I love you Please don’t take my sunshine away


The other night dear, as I lay sleeping I dreamed I held you in my arms When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken And I hung my head and cried


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are grey You’ll never know dear, how much I love you Please don’t take my sunshine away


I’ll always love you and make you happy If you will only say the same But if you leave me to love another You’ll regret it all some day


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are grey You’ll never know dear, how much I love you Please don’t take my sunshine away


You told me once dear, you really loved me And no one else dear, could come between But now you’ve left me and love another You have shattered all my dreams


Here's another song, one that most children learn. It has a upbeat melody and it's easy to sing. For those of us who do not speak French, all we hear is a charming children's song. Seems harmless enough. But the lyrics tell another story. They describe torturing a poor little bird!


Alouette

Lyrics in French with English translation:


Alouette, gentille Alouette

Lark, nice lark Alouette, je te plumerai

Lark, I shall pluck you Je te plumerai la tête

I shall pluck your head (Je te plumerai la tête)

(I shall pluck your head) Et la tête

And your head (Et la tête)

(And your head) Alouette

Lark (Alouette)


(Lark) O-o-o-oh Alouette, gentille AlouetteAlouette, je te plumerai Je te plumerai le bec

I shall pluck your beak (Je te plumerai le bec)

Et le bec (Et le bec)

Et la tête (Et la tête)

Alouette (Alouette)

O-o-o-oh


The song continues like this, with the italicized phrase (a part of the bird) in each verse being substituted with a new one, with the previous items being recited at the end:

  • Et le cou

And your neck

  • Et le dos

And your back

  • Et les ailes

And your wings

  • Et les pattes

And your feet

  • Et la queue

And your tail La Conclusion

The Ending

O-o-o-o-oh

Alouette, gentille Alouette

Lark, nice lark Alouette, je te plumerai


Are there songs you have made similar discoveries about? Tell us about them in the comments.

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