Thursday, June 10, 2010


When I was a kid, I loved the Beatles. Still do, actually.

"Across the Universe" is one of my favorite Beatles songs. It's got such a pretty melody, and deep and meaningful (translate: obscure) lyrics that can rattle around in your brain all day. My daughter loves the song, too.

So on our recent trip to California, we were playing the CD in the car and singing along.

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they make
Their way across the Universe.

Pools of sorrow rays of joy
Are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me....

And then ... what are those words?

I suddenly realized that, in my 40+ years of existence, I had never bothered to learn what that next lyric really is. As a kid I always just sang, "Jack-a-roo Dave la" without ever thinking about it. But that can't be it, can it?

Jack a Roo Dave la.... ohhh....

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million
Eyes, they call me on and on,
Across the universe

Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make
Their way across the Universe....

Shit, there it is again... what's that line? It sounds for all the world like "Jack a roo Dave la.... ohhhh..." but that just can't be it!! ....

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views
Inciting and inviting me.

Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million
Suns, it calls me on and on,
Across the Universe.

Dang. There it is again, "Jack a Roo Dave la.... ohhhh...."

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Jack a roo Dave la
Jack a roo Dave la
Jack a roo Dave la.....

It makes no sense, Jack a roo Dave la. My daughter even asked, "what are they saying there?" And I had to confess I had no idea. ... "Jack a roo Dave la?" I said... and to her credit she actually laughed at me instead of accepting that as true.

I drove for hours with that lyric rattling around in my head.

Here, if you don't know the lyric, you try to figure it out (from this admittedly rough YouTube clip of the Beatles working on Across the Universe and Dig a Pony)!

See, you can't figure it out either, right?

When we got to the hotel, I looked it up on the wondrous modern invention we call the internet (whether invented by Al Gore or not, it is certainly a wonderful thing).

Turns out, the phrase is "Jai Guru Deva... om" which, loosely translated and according to Wikipedia, means something like, "Glory to the divine Guru," and is followed by the traditional transcendental meditation chant of "Om."

Wow, what a thing to learn after 40 years of singing "Jack a roo Dave la.... ohhhh" as if that made any sense at all.

Hopefully I've just saved some of you from the same fate.

Or maybe you knew all that already and (in the words of Rebecca Howe of the long-running sit-com Cheers), "I am too stupid to LIVE!"

* * *

In my defense, the phrase "Jack-a-Roo" isn't that far out there (except for the fact that it makes no sense at all in the context of the song). The Grateful Dead have a song entitled Jack-A-Roe.

* * *

Happy singing, Beatles fans, happy singing.


SkylersDad said...

See, that is exactly why I never liked the Beatles. Pretentious lyrics, why I never had any problems understanding Jethro Tull's "Snot is running out his nose"! ;^)

Silliyak said...

YEA! Finally something I can comment on. You might like

Hey no kidding, word verification is "rackstr"

thenerdqueen said...

I've done that SO many times with songs - my-sister-who-knows-all-song-lyrics has just come to accept that sometimes I don't know the words. Besides "Jack a roo Dave la" sounds right.

Bella said...

haha! too funny...I think we've all sang a few lyrics like that!

Melly said...

Well according to the internets, it's Jai guru de va om. Not that it makes anymore sense, haha.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris@Knucklehead! said...

I'm still confused by the line in the Beatles' "Michelle" that goes"

"Michelle, my bell, some gay monkey won't play piano songs, play piano songs."

LegalMist said...

Chris@Knucklehead - you should check out the "Mondegreens" suggested by Sillyak - see above link. Lots of folks are confounded by that lyric! (and many others, hilariously!)

That particular line is French. It says, "'Michelle, ma belle,' sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble." They translate it in the song, too: "'Michelle, my belle,' these are words that go together well..."

I was so proud of myself in 7th grade when I took a French class and was able to translate the Beatles song, finally! (Didn't take much to make me all full of myself back then, I guess).

I don't know why I never bothered to learn "Jai Guru Deva ... Om" when I took an Eastern religions class in college.

Ay yi yi

LegalMist said...

....(And anyway, I think I like your line about the gay monkey better).

Suzy said...

I knew it was Jai guru but I could never understand the next word. So thanks!

So when they sang Jai Ho in Slumdog Millionaire, I was up to speed!

LOLA said...

I'm always getting lyrics wrong. This is kind of embarrassing, but for years I thought Eric Clapton was singing "baby love," not Layla. And when I glance at a sign, what I read is usually much funnier than what is actually printed there. I was at the grocery store and they had an ad out front for their reusable bags. I saw
I use my own bags all the time so I nearly dropped to my knees right there in the street to ask forgiveness when I realized it said REUSE
Ah, well.