I’ve Got Beef Jerky In My Blood.

My wife should be locked up for lyric destruction.

Robert Cormack
ILLUMINATION

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“Don’t call my lyrics poetry. It’s an insult to real poets.” Bernie Taupin

Every so often, my wife lets out a blood-curdling sound, making me wonder if she’s in distress — or worse — singing.

She likes to sing while she’s on her exercise bike. My problem isn’t her singing as much as the lyrics. Sometimes she gets them so wrong, I can’t get the mistake out of my head.

Imagine playing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and continually hearing “Salmon mousse, salmon mousse, will you do the fandango?”

I’ve tried to get her to sing it the right way, just as I have with other songs, but Winona’s not about to change.

“I like my version better,” she says, then goes on to butcher Elton John’s “Love Lies Bleeding In My Hand.”

Then adds something out of nowhere that sounds like “I’ve got beef jerky in my blood.”

She’s convinced it’s not “bleeding” but “kneeling,” which she sings in falsetto. Then adds something out of nowhere that sounds like “I’ve got beef jerky in my blood.”

I mean, I can handle “kneeling” instead of “bleeding,” even if the latter is plainly right there in the title of the song. But where the hell does she get “I’ve got beef jerky in my blood”?

“What in heaven’s name are you doing, Winona?” I ask over the tinny music coming out of her lifted earphones.

“I’m singing to Elton John,” she puffs.

“Well I can tell you, there is no Elton John song that has ‘I’ve got beef jerky in my blood.’ I’m absolutely sure of that.”

“Do you know every Elton John song?”

Then again, I’ve listened to enough Elton John to know, even when he wore women’s gowns and a powdered wig, he still knew better than to throw “beef jerky” into anything.

I admit there might be one or two I missed after “The Captain and the Kid.” Then again, I’ve listened to enough Elton John to know, even when he wore women’s gowns and a powdered wig, he still knew better than to throw “beef jerky” into anything.

“I like my words better,” she repeats, taking the headphones back and peddling away again. As I’m walking away, she lets out another blood-curdling “I-I-I’ve got beef jerky in my blood.”

After her exercise routine, she heads for the shower, singing away in there, until you really wish she didn’t like music at all. Even the pauses are distressing. You know she’s going to start up again, and it’s going to be especially painful when she does, regardless of the song or the singer.

A good example is when she’s cooking, and starts singing, “Memories, like the sausages I brown…” I’m sure Paul Williams (who wrote it) or Barbara Streisand (who sang it) would strangle my wife — if I wasn’t doing it already.

It’s bad enough destroying “Memories” without Winona coming back a few days later, singing, “M-m-m-m-my, bologna.” I’d like to apologize publicly to The Knack — and Sharona — if there really was a Sharona. I’m sure it’s hard enough being a one-hit wonder without having your song turned into a luncheon meat jingle

But the all-time worst, was during Hilary Clinton’s presidential run when all you heard was Kate Perry’s “Roar.”

She just wanted to sing, “You’re gonna hear me roar.”

It’s a horrible feminist anthem, and probably lost Hilary more votes than she won. Not that my wife cared one way or the other. She’s not a democrat or a republican. She just wanted to sing, “You’re gonna hear me roar.”

She sounded like a strangled antelope, but the blame in this case rests solely with Kate Perry. She sounded like a strangled antelope, too. You can’t blame my wife for butchering what was butchered already.

Anyway, my wife’s back on the exercise bike now. She’s forgoing the headphones today. I hear the start of Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” and I’m sure she’s bouncing around on the bike’s saddle, getting ready for the chorus part. Oh, here it comes, “Laa, la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa.”

“For heaven’s sake, woman,” I yell down.

“What?” she calls back.

“Stop your caterwauling.”

“My what?”

I’m starting down the stairs — possibly holding a broom or rolling pin — when it happens again: “Laa, la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa.”

I find her standing high on the pedals, fingers snapping away.

“You should be locked up, Winona,” I yell.

“Here comes the chorus.”

“Please, don’t — “

“Laa, la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa, laa-la-la-la-laa.”

Winona — like most women — is deaf to criticism. It must be a bent gene or something.

I go back to the living room and turn up the news. There’s nothing I can do about this. Winona — like most women — is deaf to criticism. It must be a bent gene or something.

I remember the first week we were together, listening to the radio. She turned to me and asked, “Is it Tiny Dancer or Rancher?” I thought she was kidding. Now I know she wasn’t.

This is all very worrying. What happens when we’re eighty and she forgets all lyrics? Will she simply insert whatever she wants, like taking The Pina Colada Song and singing: “Do you like Milk of Magnesia? Getting caught in the rain…”

Am I going to be walking around singing, “Do you like Milk of Magnesia? Getting caught in the rain…”? They’ll lock me up.

And what happens if I forget the lyrics? Am I going to be walking around singing, “Do you like Milk of Magnesia? Getting caught in the rain…”? They’ll lock me up.

But first they should lock her up.

She certainly deserves it a lot more than me.

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Robert Cormack
ILLUMINATION

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.