Song Lyric look-up

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There were two generations or so of Americans who learned songs by hearing them on the radio or jukebox, and then had no easy and convenient way of instantly looking up the lyrics. It’s not clear to me when it started—in the 30s, the definition of a popular song was still when the sheet music sold briskly, and before that of course people mostly learned songs directly from other people who were in the room with them, and who presumably knew the words. At the modern end, I seem to remember that lyrics sites were among the web resources in the early 90s, tho’ of course not a lot of people had access to the internet in those days. Anyway, that experience, of trying to figure out the words from the radio, of being disappointed if you bought an album that didn’t come with the lyrics printed on the sleeve, of knowing the mondegreen instead of the actual lyrics, was I think a big part of the Baby Boomer experience and the people born just before and after them. It’s in that category of stuff that it’s hard to remember wasn’t a thing much before 1919, and hard to adjust to it not being a thing after 2019. I’ve been thinking a lot about those sorts of things lately, because as part of Generation X, I grew up under the overhang of the Baby Boom, and so many cultural things that I think of as the Way Things Are, but that didn’t exist forty years before I was born and there’s no reason to believe that they will exist forty years after I die. Sitcoms, for instance, or shopping malls, or public access television, or cassette tapes.

Anyway, the reason I was thinking of that was because the other day I heard a song that I don’t know the proper lyrics to. The song was Noël Coward’s “Time and Again”, and I had been intrigued by a line that sounded like How can I train/My hormone distributions/To be less aggressively male? I was pretty sure the context was not, in fact, referring to any sort of trans identification or related medical matters, but I wanted to know what the context was. So I looked it up, because I can do that in these internetty days. But on the sites I generally use as lyrics references, the verse in question went like this:

Time and again
I'm tortured with contrition
And swear that I'm sorry I've sinned
Then when I've got the whole thing sewn up
I must own up
Everything gets blown up
Freud could explain
my curious condition
And Jung would have certainly grinned
When I meet some sly dish
That looks like my dish
I'm sunk, drunk, gone with the wind
How can I start afresh
When the sins of the flesh
override me
Maybe some some psycho-analyst
Might slap my wrist
And give a twist
To what goes on inside me
If I could feign
The glandular transition
I'd settle for taking the Veil
Time and again I try,
Time and again I fail!

The bit about hormone distribution isn’t in it at all, but there was a similar joke using almost none of the same words. That couldn’t have been what I was trying to look up. And I didn’t remember anything about Freud, either. Time to delve deeper:

Time and again
I make good resolutions
But somehow they don't seem to stay,
Just when I think I've got the whole thing sewn up
I must own up
Everything gets blown up.
Sex and champagne
As social institutions
Stampede me and lead me astray,
I begin Beguine-ing
And my Spring cleaning
Is ditched - bitched - bundled away.
All my instincts respond
To an amiable blonde
Which is fatal.
Or if some brisk brunette appears
Back go my ears,
Old Adam cheers,
Maybe it's all pre-natal
How can I train
My hormone distributions
To be less aggressively male?
Time and again I try,
Time and again I fail.

It’s a very Noël Coward thing, of course, to amuse himself by updating a fairly obscure tune with a new verse. And both are more like parody-Coward than his best stuff, I’m afraid. The thing that made it worth mentioning (I hope) was that experience of listening, searching, finding, being dissatisfied, and then searching and finding more satisfactory results, all within ten minutes or so. Y’all who are my age probably remember waiting for the DJ to get on air just so we would know who the band was.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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