Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1977: Her mind is Tiffany-twisted

I used to tell people Hotel California was the first record I ever bought. It wasn't of course, as documented way back when in this blog. For some reason I thought it was cooler.

What it was, however, is the first record I sought out the words too.

When you hear an oldie on the radio these days it's all so clear and fresh that sometimes you hear a lyric that finally makes sense. Back in 1977, when radio wasn't on FM and muddily came through AM, you had to listen hard. I remember a Radio 1 FM trial day in about 1983. They played 17 by The Regents and it all sounded so utterly different. So thank God for Disco 45 magazine.

Remember it? It printed songwords long before Smash Hits was a twinkle in anyone's eye. Here, you'd find all your favourites written out, sometimes I would imagine by someone listening to the radio rather than getting them from the horses mouth, but it was the only way you could find them. I can still do you a flawless Up Town Top Ranking if you were to ask me.

So on the day we set off for holiday in Cornwall, I was armed with Disco 45 waiting for Hotel California to come on the radio. And when it did it was a revelation: 'warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air'. I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years. Songwords in print - I was hooked.

Cornwall was miserable though. A nasty little terrace backing onto a bleak disused tinmine with ancient neighbours meaning we had to keep quiet at all times. We went to Mousehole and Penzance, stayed in St Ives on the way down, and I had my 12th birthday. Oh, and it pissed down so hard we only stayed half the week. Hotels in California were but a dream to me then. I've not been to Cornwall since.


  1. Ha, I never knew it was "her mind is Tiffany-twisted". There are loads of songs with lyrics like that which I've never bothered to check. With a lot of them, I have my own version in my head, which I'll probably stick with forever.

    I've always wanted to go to Mousehole ever since Sarah Greene paid it a visit early in her Blue Peter career and taught us it was pronounced 'Mouzle'. Did you eat Stargazey Pie, Jon?

  2. Exactly the same here - I never knew it was 'Tiffany-twisted' either. I always thought it was something like 'her mouth stiffened and twitch-ed', which in my view is the far superior lyric. Hotel California reminds me of my sister getting together with the bloke she eventually married. They'd monopolise the record player, and sit around smoking cheroots and nodding wisely and pretending they were bloody Californian.

    And I've only had one holiday in Cornwall too. July 1992. The weather was so bad everything was swathed in thick mist. I can remember shivering in three jumpers at Tintagel, and thinking that I'd never, EVER holiday in the UK again.

  3. Stargazey Pie? Fisheads/ Nein danke. But we did have pasties of course.

    I've been trying to work out what Tiffany-twisted means. And I can only think it's to do with Tiffany glass.

  4. Just to prove how difficult it is to get song lyrics right, there’s a mistake in the YouTube screengrab above. The second line of that verse should be “She got the Mercedes bends” - the pun being intended to echo the ‘twisted’ in the first line.

    Yours pedantically...

  5. You're right, TT.

    When I looked up the lyrics on a reputable website it was indeed 'bends'.

    See what happens?

  6. Funnily enough we played Ca Plane Pour Moi on our radio gubbins last night, which must be open to as many mis-hearings as The Israelites..

    One line I'd always pegged as 'a sparrow riding girly bra' turns out to be 'un sparadrap, une gueule de bois'

    Have you heard the Moog Cookbook refit of Hotel

  7. J.P., I think the Tiffany 'twisted' reference is to the famed jewellry, as the song is about the materialism of the California - Los Angeles - Hollywood entertainment scene. Echoed as has been said by the Mercedes 'bends'. It's a clever lyric.

    In contrast to others' experience of Cornwall, I had a couple of extremely enjoyable stays there, all expenses paid courtesy of work.

    For three days at a time we'd be on call to approve print at St Ives Roche. This was in the early nineties before laptops and the internet really intruded, and it weas too far to go backwards and forwards to home. Hence leaving plenty of time for a schedule to visit all the sights. I particularly remember one drive taking in the Lizard and then on to Lands End in time for sunset and dinner.

    Mevagissey was lovely, the Lost Gardens had just been discovered and the sun always shone. We had to keep it a bit quiet back in the office.

  8. I remember seeing the words to Ca Plane... written down, but being in French they were far too complicated. I just did it phonetically, still do.

    Thanks for the link, Mondo.

    Your Cornish secret is safe with me OP. I'd like to go back, but it's not a priority at the moment.

  9. It's a simple thing, but I adore the way Hotel California ends with a verse rather than a chorus. It's perfect.