My brain does not always correctly identify the downbeat; that is, I’ll occasionally be off by a half-beat in interpreting music as it’s being played. I don’t know if it’s trouble with parsing syncopation, or what, but there are parts of songs that I know I’m just not hearing correctly, and I can’t break out of it. This tune was a case in point for years.
Apparently, the first time I heard Blue Swede’s remake of “Hooked on a Feeling” in the spring of 74, I missed the first syllable of the intro, so I was hearing “Gotcha gahoo gahoo gahoo” over and again. And that’s how it always sounded to me throughout its run of popularity and whenever I heard it on the radio later. Sure, I could tell that there was a conflict of what constituted the beat between that and what the lead singer Björn Skifs was doing, but, I suppose I put it down to artistic license.
It wasn’t until I got to college over eight years later that I learned the truth. Mark caught my attention one day when “Hooked” came up in conversation and mentioned something about an “ooga chaka” part. I had no idea what he meant and actually thought he was putting me on. Before too long, however, I finally was able to hear the song the “right way.” And so it was pretty much from thereon; while it was good to know how it was intended to go, to a certain extent I felt like I’d lost a friend.
There are other tunes that to this day still have that sense of being off for me. One is “Tell Me Something Good;” throughout, it’s the transition from verse to chorus that isn’t on a full beat, so clearly I’m not hearing the verse (and the panting) correctly. Another one is “Lean on Me.” I can’t figure it out—when I try to count time, Bill Withers never comes in on my beat. There’s also trouble with the first verse of “Spirits in the Material World.“ I guess this inability is just one of my many quirks/foibles—anyone got any advice?
Fortunately, I suppose, I actually do hear the intro to “Hooked on a Feeling” (a former #1, at #34 in its last week on the show here) as I did originally every once in a while—twice in the last six months, even. It seems to help to have it come on at low volume and/or in the background.