"Ee-pa-ro"? What does that mean?
November 8, 2006 9:04 PM   Subscribe

A question about lyrics in "Birdland" by Weather Report.

At around 2:44 in the song, somebody (I think it's the drummer or percussionist) sings something that sounds like "Ee-pa-ro". Does anybody know what he's actually singing and what it means?
posted by concrete to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At first reading of your question I thought perhaps you had the version of the song confused (as Weather Report don't sing during their rendition), so I re-listened to it.

ALAS! You are right, he is singing something close to Ee-pa-ro (or perhaps Keep 'em off?)! I would have never caught this strange element. The singer repeats the same words around 2:48 in the song, as well.

I'm sorry I can't offer you a definitive answer, but thank you for posting this question! It motivated me to listen to a song with which I had long lost touch (and I love me some Jaco Pastorius!).
posted by numinous at 9:24 PM on November 8, 2006

I've always thought this was some sort of intentionally mixed-in vocal. I'll ask my audio tech buddy tomorrow.

I too thought you were thinking of a different album at first - thought you were talking about the (terrible, IMHO) Manhattan Transfer recording of it. But I digress.
posted by rossination at 9:37 PM on November 8, 2006

Whatever it is, there's a keyboard in unison with it. On the Manhattan Transfer version of the song, they just do it once with a piano - no vocal - so they must have been aware of it too. Same with the Weather Report live version I have: right there they just do it once as a descending triad with the keys, no vocal. (Miles skips this particular break, as far as I can tell.)

To my ear, it sounds most like the Spanish word hígado, "liver," except it's more like "híparo," which isn't a word as far as I know. He sings it three times.

How did you find this? I've listened to this song dozens of times and never heard it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:39 PM on November 8, 2006

I've noticed it before, but I always thought it was "people." Now I'm not so sure...
posted by danb at 10:13 PM on November 8, 2006

Yeah I always thought it was "people" too...
posted by ob at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2006

I've heard it and sung along phonetically for about fifteen years but I have no idea what the word is. Is this where it turns out Alex Acuña and Manolo Badrena are Mefites and they straighten us out?
posted by Songdog at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2006

I can't locate my copy of the album at the moment (could someone post a clip with the words?), but could it be y paro 'and I stop' (or 'and stoppage')? Probably not, but I just thought I'd toss that out there. It may not be one word, is all I'm saying.
posted by languagehat at 10:04 AM on November 9, 2006

I always assumed it was "people".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:04 PM on November 9, 2006

It's always sounded like "Ee-pa-Lo" to me, which I guess could make it something like "People-Oh" ... but I've always assumed that it was just scat-like vocal sounds rather than specific words.
posted by sgass at 5:46 PM on November 9, 2006

I've clipped this part of the track; any suggestions where to post it?
posted by Songdog at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2006

Having spent far, far too much time thinking about this, I'm convinced languagehat is right.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:54 AM on February 8, 2007

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