is it my hearing or am i being geezerly?

I’m sure that if you’re over 50, you understand what I mean when I complain about the changing speech patterns in today’s pop culture. Where are all the teachers like Miss Lamb, my music teacher in elementary school, who still teach the importance of enunciating so that people don’t misunderstand what you’re trying to say?

Like, the song in the Citi Bank commercial where the young man and woman flit about town with their Citi Bank card buying up stuff for a weekend adventure? A little romance is thrown in to grab attention by mentioning buying diamonds or something, and then the song voice-over begins. By that time the young woman has begun climbing up this impossible looking crook-nose rock formation with the young man somewhere below. (It’s an arch in the famous Arches National park in Moab, UT by the way.) Was it something about somebody mashing potatoes? Around Thanksgiving, I thought maybe she was out climbing while the cook was stuck at home cooking and telling somebody to mash the potatoes. But what did mashing potatoes have to do with climbing?

Last week I solved the mystery by googling Citi Bank tv commercials. It’s a New York musician who goes by the name of L.P. (for Laura Pergolizzi) singing Into the Wild and it is a catchy tune. The beginning lyrics that sound like mashing potatoes is really “Somebody Left The Gate Open,” and according to this website Girl on the Rocks was designed to inspire women intrigued by the sport, but intimidated by its male dominance and stereotype as “extreme;” to instruct women on technique, strength, and mental agility from a woman’s perspective; to empower women to climb harder and with more courage. Okay, I forgive Citi Bank, but couldn’t there be subtitles? So people won’t think their ears are clogged with wax?

Just for the record, I began a draft of this post a couple of days back. This morning I noticed that other, more prominent people have taken notice of the Girl on the Rocks ad. You might enjoy Jeanne Moos amusing report (click here) from this morning on CNN. You may have to endure a short commercial from esurance before the report, but it’s worth the wait. It’s gratifying to know I’m not the only one with problems hearing.

While we’re on the subject of commercials, have you seen the Nelson Mandela public service announcement airing in various incarnations over the years? I have the utmost respect for Mr. Mandela and what he stands for, but after numerous times straining to understand the message I still didn’t know what he was saying other than something about color and tolerance. Yesterday, thanks again to Google, I learned that what he is saying is this: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” It’s a very important message but I doubt everybody who sees it understands it. Again, aren’t subtitles in order? Even in the Survivor series, subtitles are often used for speech patterns that may be difficult for some to decipher. I don’t take it personally that so often it’s that of southerners.

Last but not least, Hubby and I and our inquiring minds want to know this. Those video diaries Jamie Curtiss refer to in the Activia commercials! What are they? I shudder considering the possibilities. Some things are just better left unsung.

18 thoughts on “is it my hearing or am i being geezerly?

  1. Hadn’t seen the ad so –
    Clicked and watched – eek!
    I know that I have some hearing loss and it’s difficult. TV can be awful to hear.
    Thanks to dvr, I don’t see many ads. 🙂

    • That’s the best way to watch TV, and we do a lot of taping too, but still those ads pop up; we both watch too many news shows and all they ever show is the same old rehash over and over. Have you had any interesting visitors this week? I’ll bet the traffic has picked up around the state at the very least!

  2. Since the ads are American, they mean nothing to me. I have no TV by choice, so am not subject to seeing any ads. I did clink on the link and could not make any sense out of it.

  3. And,,,
    just try to listen to the words to some of the ‘music’ and songs being ‘sung’ these days! I have NO idea what they’re talking about. Guess I’m just getting old enough to just smile and nod! I can not hear most of the words! let alone understand them!

    • Diane, so nice to see you here. Thanks for taking the time to leave a note. As for the music world today, there may be hope for us yet. Did you hear the new singer from Canada, Michael Buble? You can actually understand every word he sings, and he sounds a lot like Frank Sinatra and the old style guys. Caused quite a sensation with his Christmas album. You can hear and see more here:

    • Speaking of language, have you noticed how political pundits change language–Rick Santoram for instance with his tongue slip “Blahhh” people! Makes me wonder if my long dead grandparents could maneuver the new world.

  4. I love the Passat commercial, with various people singing the lyrics to Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” I’ve always had problems understanding lyrics to his songs in particular. Well, because the Passat has a superior sound system, the driver was able to hear the lyrics clearly, “…burning out this fuse up here alone.” As the driver of a Toyota pickup truck with seat designed by the Marquis de Sade and a radio speakers made from old soup cans, I find this commercial quite amusing.

  5. My hearing with aid is not too bad, but I still don’t get most of the words in contemporary music. When someone speaks about the poetry, I’m just left uncomprehending. it’s a good excuse for not buying more music.

  6. Hello Aunty ! I am waiting for a technology where subtitles will flash on my brain when my elder daughter speaks. So far I have deciphered that “uh” means “goodbye”, “umh” means “good morning” and “uh uh uh” means “have a nice day”. Her communication was perfectly ok until I made the mistake of gifting her an iPod and further compounded it by giving her a Blackberry. English songs – I stay with John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Everly Brothers and Cliff Richard just for reasons of comprehensibility. With Hindi songs, it is the same. I dig Kishore Kumar and Md. Rafi (both worthy contemporaries of the illustrious gentlemen mentioned above). Modern Hindi songs are just as bad as the modern English ones.

    Cheers !

  7. Awesome. I love that I found your site by googling Citi Card + Mashed Potatoes. That’s what the lyrics sound like to me too. The commercial is annoying. A song about loving to eat mashed potatoes would actually improve it.

  8. Google brought me here. I find this commercial very irritating. It’s on every other minute and I can’t understand the song at all. Glad to see that I’m not the only one with this problem. I still don’t like the commercial even now that I know part of the song lyrics. It is like finger nails on a chalk board.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Claudia! And there are lots more that irritate me as well, but I’m glad to know it’s not JUST me! ❗

  9. I assumed that the Citibank ad was about liberation from the beginning, and also
    assumed that the song (which fascinated me enormously) was in Swahili or something African eg Angelique Kidjo et al
    But, after seeing the commercial about 100 times I suddenly understood the words, “Somebody left the gate open” and googled around til I found L.P. singing the whole song.
    You might notice that the second line , “U know we got lost on the way”, is not in the commercial,
    Taken as a whole, I interpret the song as a lament on the human condition, the “gate open” actually referring to the madness in which our world is immersed like Pandora’s box.
    I am a conductor and musician,, and I think that what makes the song so poignant (other than the awesome range, intonation, and subtlety of LP’s voice) is the juxtaposition of the exuberance and joyfulness of the tune (whistling and all) and the melancholy of the brilliantly rhythmicized lyrics, for an overall emotional effect not unlike Mahler, the only composer who could write music expressing more than one emotion simultaneously.
    I am a geezer (pushing 70) but I have not encountered a rock musician this moving since
    John Lennon.
    Congrats to LP and much success!!!!
    I would love to hear any comments. If the producer is out there, I’d love to know why they chose this song (and deleted the second line)
    (PS, the rock climber, Katie Brown, is also very cool, check her out)

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