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'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy b Gavin Edwards

Norman Cousins was right when he affirmed (in Anatomy of an Illness) that humor preserves health. He learned from experience that ten minutes of Marx Brothers movies could provide as much relief as two hours worth of pain medication. I've subscribed to the theory for years, and eagerly greet any new book that purports to be genuinely humorous. In that hopeful mode, I immediately scooped up, 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy by Gavin Edwards, a humorous collection of misunderstood song lyrics. For example, the title refers to an obfuscation of Jimmy Hendrix's "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky."

The concept is intrinsically funny and hits close to home. Who hasn't heartily sung along to songs - perhaps for years - later to hope in embarrassment that no one was listening too closely, when you learn what those singers were actually saying. I remember this from my earliest years, when a frequently sung hymn in our Catholic grade school included the line, "That title so wond'rous," while I chimed in with gusto, "That tight old so wond'rous," which I took be a variation of the parental lament, "That tight old so and so . . ." Would that that had been the LAST time I got the words wrong. Not so, alas.

My first response to "'Scuse Me...." was disappointment. The book is small, the type large, and there is not much content on the page. Many of the flubbed lyrics didn't strike me as all that funny, although I admit there were a few knee slappers in there. I also note that my friends in the music business think this book is a LOT funnier than I do.

For my part, the thing I liked best-and the thing I've gotten the most mileage out of in speech writing-is a throw away line in the intro, which is a misunderstanding, not of a song, but the Pledge of Allegiance. Seems some young thing was piously repeating, "I led the pigeons to the flag . . ."

Why, that tight old so wond'rous!

For this genre done better, see my review of Self Helpless, also on this site.

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