One of my favorite rock bands is Creedence Clearwater Revival, and one of my favorite CCR songs is “Lodi,” the ballad about a talented young man seeking his fame and fortune, the one who the magazine said was on his way, but somewhere he lost connections and ran out of songs to play.
“Oh Lord,” John Fogerty sang, “(I’m) Stuck in Lodi awful young.”
Recently, a half-century after I fell in love with the song, I discovered that’s not what he sang at all.
It started when I got hold of Emmy Lou Harris’ wonderful wonderful album Live at the Ryman, where she sings a sweetly plaintive version of “Lodi” but clearly sings “I’m stuck in Lodi again.”
That’s weird, I thought, I wonder why she would change the lyrics. I mean, “Stuck in Lodi awful young” fits the song so well; the way she sang it sounds like he keeps leaving Lodi and coming back only to get stuck again, as opposed to being stuck there permanently, doomed to grow old in Lodi long before his time?
But then I saw a reference, or a tribute to the song, somewhere, and there were those wrong lyrics again: “Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.”
I decided to go back and listen to the song, even though I’ve heard it hundreds if not thousands of times over the years, singing along with Fogerty, “Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi awful young.”
I listened with an open mind, and I was aghast to hear Fogerty seem to sing, “Stuck in Lodi a-gain …”
It turns out I was the guy who sang along with “Purple Haze” and belted out, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” For 50-odd years, no less.
Now, tell me you don’t hear him singing “stuck in Lodi awful young” if you expect him to sing that. I would still argue it’s a better lyric than “again,” but who am I to question one of the great songwriters of his time?
Mark Twain famously wrote, “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you do know that ain’t so.” Fortunately, mishearing the lyrics to a good song didn’t really hurt me, but it sure threw me for a loop.
I guess it pays, every so often, to go back and double check to make sure the things that you know are so.