Musical Wanderings

Twelve Girls Band, Photo from YouTube

Interesting Cultural and Musical Mashups

With such things as Pandora radio and YouTube making recommendations based on music you’ve played or liked, your musical wanderings can sometimes take you to some interesting places, introducing you to new artists and new songs, possibly even new instruments or cultures. The more curious you are and open to new things, the more you will be introduced to more interesting new sounds.

This playlist features songs that have some relationship to folk or world music but aren’t purely so (with the exception of the first one.) It may be modern songs played with traditional instruments or western songs played with eastern instruments or some other mashup of cultural sounds. This first one by the Gothard Sisters is not so much of a mashup or twist, but it fits the theme of “wandering” so well, with the video featuring scenes from the group’s world travels.

In this next one, YouTuber Luna plays an American rock song, “Riders on the Storm” by the Doors on a gayageum, a traditional Korean instrument with 12 strings. It really has an interesting sound that some commenters described as “spooky.” It appears she had to play three different parts at separate times and do some overdubbing.

I’ve seen a few videos now from Paola Hermosin, Spanish guitarist. She is not just a “Spanish guitarist” in the sense of guitar style. She is also from Seville, Spain. Although all of her introductions are in Spanish, there are English subtitles, and I always learn miniature lessons on music history, composers and singers and song structure. In this one, she has arranged a song composed for the koto, a Japanese instrument somewhat similar to the gayageum, for the guitar.

This YouTuber, who calls herself Alina Gingertail, is from Russia. She is a multi-instrumentalist who plays all sorts of interesting traditional and folk instruments. She often covers video game theme music.

You would expect a bagpiper to come from Scotland or Ireland or to be someone with that heritage. You wouldn’t expect one to come from India, where this bagpiper, who calls herself the Snake Charmer, does. In this original song, she pays tribute to both Irish and Punjabi culture and even collaborates with a rapper, Raoul Kerr. I love watching all of the traditional dancing from both cultures.

I first discovered Twelve Girls Band from China in a PBS special. They play western music with traditional Chinese instruments. The instruments played include the erhu, a two-stringed fiddle, the pipa, a four-stringed instrument, the zhongruan, also known as a moon guitar, the dizi, a traverse flute, the yangqin, a hammered dulcimer, the guzheng, a zither, and the duxianqin, a one string plucked instrument. Here, they cover “El Condor Pasa” made famous in the English speaking world by Simon & Garfunkel, but the song has an older history than the folk duo. It was composed by a Peruvian composer, Daniel Alombia Rombles, in 1913. The Simon & Garfunkel version featured a different folk instrument, the pan flute, which originated in ancient Mayan and Incan civilization.

Patty Gurdy plays a hurdy gurdy. I’ve met a lot of people who play instruments, but I can’t say I’ve ever met someone who can play the hurdy gurdy. It’s a folk instrument that is hand cranked to turn a rosined wheel against strings. Keyboard buttons also press small wedges against strings. In this video, Patty Gurdy covers an ’80s song by the Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams.”

The next video is from B&B Project, a duo from Ukraine, who seek to popularize their folk instruments, the bandura and button accordion. Here, they cover “Clubbed to Death” from The Matrix soundtrack.

Below is one of the most unusual yet, a Mongolian folk metal band, The Hu, (not be confused with The Who.) They use a singing technique called Mongolian throat singing, where the singer can sing more than one note at once.

I first got acquainted with music by Ahmed Alshaiba when he collaborated with Peter Hollens. Alshaiba is a Yemenite, and he often covers pop songs, giving them a bit of a Middle Eastern sound, with his oud and guitar. Here he covers “Blinding Lights” by the Weeknd.

Alex Boye is originally from London, England and now living in the U.S. He was born to Nigerian parents and likes to perform what he calls Africanized covers of pop songs. Here, he plays “Royals” by Lorde and has a little fun with African tribal masquerade and a little humor with a Christmas wreath. I discovered him on YouTube, but at that point, he had already gained some fame on America’s Got Talent. I love his harmonies on this one.

I first heard this cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by Regina Spektor on one of my Pandora radio station, and I tuned in. It almost gave me chills. I’m not sure why. It is not my favorite song by the Beatles, and I’m not sure I agree with the message behind it. I think it’s partly due to the beauty of Spektor’s voice. This version with its unique Japanese instrumentation also seems oddly emotive. It was made for the soundtrack of Kubo and the Two Strings, a movie I’ve never seen. The song features the shamisen, a three stringed Japanese instrument.

Perhaps, I am more open than the average person to world sounds, but I hope you enjoyed your tour of interesting musical mashups. Which did you find the most interesting? Which did you like hearing the best?

Joshua Fit the Battle of Cherry Coke and 13 Other Misheard Lyrics

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  1. “Joshua Fit the Battle of Cherry Coke”

Photo by Ashley Kirk on Unsplash

Some child heard “Joshua fit the battle of cherry Coke” instead of “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho.” The battle at Jericho was pretty unusual, but this kind of battle sounds more like a cafeteria food fight. I don’t know where this is found in the Bible. Hhhmmm….

2. “Caribou Quick!” 

Photo by Thomas LeFebvre on Unsplash

At a party, a friend of mine shared how he always heard the lyrics, “Caribou quick” in the song “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean. That changes the meaning, just slightly. Caribou are often the subject of ’80s R&B songs, right? We could probably fill an album on contemporary songs of the caribou … or maybe Wayne Brady could. It probably helped the storytelling that my friend had to make antlers with his hands while he sang the lyrics.

3. “Ooh! Boppa Retta!”


When I was a child, I sometimes heard Sade’s “Smooth Operator” when out in public places. For years, I thought the repeated line, “Smooth Operator” was “Ooh! Boppa Retta!” I guess I thought it was like jazz scat singing or some nonsense syllables like “Rama Lama Ding Dong.” I don’t remember how I was finally enlightened.

4. “This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus!”

Photo by Christine Siracusa on Unsplash

These lyrics were heard in place of “Age of Aquarius” in the Fifth Dimension song by that title. That is an age that a lot of veggie-fearing children would dread.

4. “Got along with Starbucks lovers”

Photo by guan lee on Unsplash

This one is heard instead of “got a long list of ex-lovers” in the song “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. Who wouldn’t get along with a Starbucks lover? Maybe someone who prefers Dunkin’ Donuts coffee instead.

5. “I wanna try like a beagle.” 

Photo by Ionut Conan Photographer on Unsplash

This was heard in place of “I Wanna Fly Like an Eagle” in the Steve Miller Band song by that name. Everyone knows that beagles try hard. Most of them are probably trying hard to catch squirrels, although one famous beagle, Snoopy, does dance and fly a plane and other impressive accomplishments.

6. “A pink pair of dice”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This was heard instead of “They paved paradise” and then followed by “and put in a parking lot” in “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell. Well, a pair of fuzzy dice might be seen in a parking lot, but that’s the only connection I see.

7. “I just died in your barn tonight, mustard no mayonnaise instead.”

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

This was heard in place of “I just died in your arms tonight. It must have been something you said,” in the song “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight” by Cutting Crew. I’m a little confused by this one. It sounds like the ghost of some guy who died in the barn is still able to enjoy mortal pleasures and is pretty persnickety about his condiment choices.

8. “Sweet dreams are made of cheese.” 

Photo by Darren Colehill on Unsplash

The actual lyrics are “Sweet dreams are made of these” in the song “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. Still, I agree with this statement. I have a lot of sweet dreams about cheese.

9. “It’s too late to order fries.”


This was heard instead of “It’s too late to apologize” in “Apologize” by OneRepublic. Isn’t it heartbreaking when you roll up to the drivethrough window only to realize the place is closed?Maybe the guy tried to order at Chik Fil A on a Sunday? (I think we could put together some sort of sandwich, side and beverage from the misheard lyrics in this list.)

10. “‘Til I hit the dumpster, hit the dumpster.”

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This was heard in Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” instead of “‘Til I hit the dance floor, hit the dance floor.” Well, she does sing about not needing a lot of cash in order to have a good time. Hitting a dumpster doesn’t cost much, but I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of thrill factor there either.

11. “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.”

Photo by Mirza Causevic on Unsplash

This was heard in place of “Hold me closer, tiny dancer,” in Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Maybe this was misheard by someone with a celebrity crush?

12. “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

Photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash

This was heard in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Sometimes, it’s really handy to know there’s a bathroom nearby.

13. “And the toilet’s last cleaning.”

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This was heard in the U.S. national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” in place of “at the twilight’s last gleaming.” I sure hope the toilet is gleaming after its last cleaning.

What lyrics have you misheard?