"I went out to see if I could fall in love again"
August 7, 2008 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Any examples of audible mistakes in a song making it into the final mix? A missed drum beat, a bad chord etc Extra credit for popularity of the track Extra extra credit for the "timestamp" of the mistake
posted by oliyoung to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Does James Blunt starting early in "You're Beautiful" count?
posted by PenDevil at 12:39 AM on August 7, 2008

I can't believe I can't think of any off the top of my head, but a good place to look is one or two-hit pop bands from the 60s. Studio recording is expensive, and bands often only had one chance to get it right. Also there weren't any computers to chop out or correct mistakes. (i.e. "mistakes" you see nowadays are usually intentionally left in.) I hear mistakes like that all the time (usually someone coming in early with a verse), but I can't think of any specific ones right now.
posted by phunniemee at 12:46 AM on August 7, 2008

Best answer: There's a pretty comprehensive list of audio anomalies in Beatles songs.
posted by lore at 1:04 AM on August 7, 2008

The only thing I can think of is The Kingsmen's cover of Louie Louie:
The most notorious error on the Kingsmen's version comes after the guitar break. To some ears, singer Ely begins singing the verse in the correct place, but thinks he's come in too soon, and pauses for another cycle of the riff. To others, he comes in too soon and corrects himself but the band doesn't realize that he's done so. Either way, drummer Lynn Easton covers the pause with a drum fill. But then, before the verse has ended, the rest of the band goes into the chorus at the point where they expect it to be. They recover quickly, but the confusion would seem to indicate that the rest of the band couldn't hear the vocals while they were recording.
posted by Dreamcast at 1:07 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

The first thing that popped into my head was Dylan's Suze song. It's also known as the cough song. He coughs at 1:37 in. Being an instrumental, the recording engineer didn't know when it was over. The cough and the resulting conversation (including the recording guy's sonorous voice) pretty much make the song.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 1:11 AM on August 7, 2008

Best answer: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon: not so smooth tape splice between "Any Colour You Like" and "Brain Damage". Also at the end of "The Great Gig In The Sky" there is some wow and flutter on the last piano chord as it is ringing out.

10 Recording Bloopers That Made the Album
posted by chillmost at 1:12 AM on August 7, 2008

Not a song, but Sailing By is played every single night on BBC Radio 4 with a mistake at the Da Capo after the middle eight (at 24 secs on the linked audio clip in the article above).

Listen carefully and you can hear the bass play a bum note, miss a bar out then find their place again. They've been playing this recording for over 40 years now and still no-one's fixed it.

Makes you proud to be British.
posted by dogsbody at 1:12 AM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

In Rammstein's Amerika, the lead guitarist wanders way off the beat on his solos.
posted by zippy at 1:59 AM on August 7, 2008

Ellis Paul hits a real sour high note at the very end of "The World Ain't Slowin' Down".
Also I always thought Aretha Franklin's rendition of Otis Reddings song R-E-S-P-E-C-T where she sings "take care TCB" makes no sense at all. What she's saying, in essence is "Take care, taking care of buisiness" Whaa?
posted by Acacia at 1:59 AM on August 7, 2008

Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls:

"The studio version contains Brian May's most infamous recording mistake, when he hit a G/F dissonance during the break (before the third verse). This is the result of playing a regular G voicing with the dropped 6th string (D) of the alternate tuning"
posted by xchmp at 2:49 AM on August 7, 2008

One of my favourites from metal days... the album version of Master of Puppets (from the album of the same name) by Metallica, has a long widdly Kirk Hammet solo. He hits a *really* high note that if you try, is pretty much impossible on a 22 fret guitar without a slide. Its actually a mistake, the string slipped off the fret board and over the edge. Hammett manages to actually make something of it, luckily the tone that ws produced was in key, and he even uses the whammy bar on it - some very quick thinking and some good luck. If you dont know 'guitaring' very well you might not spot it, but its hugely noticeable to guitarists. I dont have it to hand but if you want the exact time it occurs on the track let me know. Theres a reference to it here after a quick search.
posted by daveyt at 3:39 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

- Denny's early start on the last chorus of the Mamas and Papas' "I Saw Her Again Last Night"
- Two false guitar starts at the beginning of Green Day's "Time of Your Life" (you can hear Billy Joe swear after the second)
- There's a Janet Jackson song ("Escapade," maybe?") where she misses a note and then sings "Missed the note... that wasn't such a good time" instead of whatever the lyrics really were
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:07 AM on August 7, 2008

In his song "Only Human", Billy Joel stutters on the line "sometimes that's what it takes", and you can hear him laugh. He decided that it would appropriate to leave it in given the subject of the tune.
posted by DWRoelands at 4:07 AM on August 7, 2008

Interesting about this is that a lot of the anomalies weren't heard until albums were re-released on CD. At least in the context of the Beatles.
posted by gjc at 4:17 AM on August 7, 2008

See this piece on the recording of the Iguanas' Sugar Cane, which starts off with a train whistle.
    The defining moment of their eight-day session may have been during the recording of "Sugar Cane," when a train passed by on cue. "It happened just as we recording it," singer-guitarist Rod Hodges said recently. "We didn't just stick that on there. It fits perfect; that's why we left it. It was even in the right key."

    posted by yclipse at 4:19 AM on August 7, 2008

    posted by swordfishtrombones at 4:22 AM on August 7, 2008

    The beginning of ELO's "Rockaria" contains an alleged false-start by the woman singing the operatic intro, including an audible "oops."
    posted by Thorzdad at 4:55 AM on August 7, 2008

    I believe Kate Pierson's "Tin Roof....rusted!" in the B-52s' "Love Shack" was a mistake that they decided to leave in the song.
    posted by suki at 5:08 AM on August 7, 2008

    Stranglers Down in the Sewer from Rattus Norvegicus has the sound of interference from a fluorescent light.
    posted by mattoxic at 5:15 AM on August 7, 2008

    Dylan: There are several, but there is a moment on Highlands, which is ~17 minutes long, where he flubs the lyric but just keeps going.
    posted by OmieWise at 5:17 AM on August 7, 2008

    Best answer: Here's a short list: My Favorite Mistake
    posted by kittydelsol at 5:32 AM on August 7, 2008

    The false start at the beginning of "Hello, It's Me" by Todd Rundgren
    posted by Morpeth at 5:36 AM on August 7, 2008

    The Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World that is ubiquitous in movies and commercials is interesting in that he only half-remembers the words to the songs. In several places he either mixes up verses or just injects lyrics of his own creation.
    posted by UrbanEconomist at 5:40 AM on August 7, 2008

    "Hello, It's Me" also seems to have a lyric flub toward the end, where he starts singing the beginning of one line, only to realize it's wrong and correct it in the next syllable. It comes out like "Some...around to see you once in a while." Not inconceivable, given that it was recorded live in the studio.

    And for false starts, my favorite has always been the Beatles' "Taxman."

    There's also the cough and Robert Plant's vocal acknowledgment of it at the end of Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying."
    posted by anthom at 5:50 AM on August 7, 2008

    Along those same lines, Ella Fitzgerald's legendary version of 'Mack the Knife' from Live in Berlin contains a section where she forgets the lyrics and begins, charmingly in my view, improvising lyrics about Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin.
    posted by box at 5:51 AM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

    U2's "Ultraviolet (Baby, Light My Way)" from Achtung Baby. At 3:08, drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. drops a stick and doesn't get another one till 3:14 or so. He plays pretty smoothly through the mistake, so unless you were listening carefully you might just think he was backing off a bit and playing less. I didn't notice it for the first 10 or 12 years I had the CD. Reportedly, Brian Eno wanted to keep it and a bit of an argument ensued.
    posted by el_lupino at 5:56 AM on August 7, 2008

    In the Frankie Valli song "rag doll" a tambourine falls apart at 1:15. The percussion continues, so it must have been one of the cymbals falling off and plinking on the floor.
    posted by onehalfjunco at 6:04 AM on August 7, 2008

    At the beginning of Johnny Cash - If I Give My Soul, Johnny starts out in a loud stage voice, since he'd been touring recently. Producer Rick Rubin audibly says "Get off stage Cash", so he starts again in a subtler tone. See last paragraph here.
    posted by sanka at 6:24 AM on August 7, 2008

    There's also the weird fade-in fade-out effect on the intro to The Smith's Some Girls are Bigger than Others, which may or may not be an error. It's been suggested here for example that this is because a 'spoiled' mix that was used due to time pressures:

    "An injunction was landed on the album, already overdue; in the crisis to actually release the record, a "spoiled" version of the song (modified by the sound engineers as a sample, to prevent their not being paid) may have been used.
    posted by xchmp at 6:33 AM on August 7, 2008

    Let me clear my throat by DJ Kool was recorded live and at one point he say something to the effect of "I need music in the monitors" which I take to me that the on-stage equipment isn't working properly. I would think that a lot of live recordings would have lots of these mistakes.
    posted by mmascolino at 6:34 AM on August 7, 2008

    Paul Westerberg's "Grandpaboy" album has a zillion of these, but it's a self-proclaimed basement record. He admits many of the mistakes in the liner notes. One track even cuts off maybe 2/3 through.
    posted by GilloD at 6:35 AM on August 7, 2008

    While he was recording "Dog" for Speed Graphic, Ben Folds' then wife Frally called in the middle of the take. He must have liked it because he kept their conversation in the song.

    Another Ben Folds Phone Interruption: On "Steven's Last Night in Town", the phone rang during the take and someone laughed at it. That stayed in the mix.
    posted by bryanzera at 6:37 AM on August 7, 2008

    "Rave on Kahlil Gibran
    Oh, what swine-sweet wine we drinketh
    The celebration will be held
    We will drink the (pause) wine and break the holy bread"

    Van Morrison on the live version of Rave on John Donne (on his Best of II). Shambolic, but sublime.
    posted by Kiwi at 6:38 AM on August 7, 2008

    Janet Jackson flubs a note in "Runaway" and notes that "it wasn't such a good time" (about 3:19 here)

    Don't know if it was intentional or not, but Dylan starts laughing at the beginning of "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" and has to restart. He also audibly forgets the words to his own damn song when he sings "Girl from the North Country" with Johnny Cash on Nashville Skyline (it's still amazing despite that). It's at about 2:07 in the recorded album version.
    posted by pised at 7:00 AM on August 7, 2008

    In R.E.M.'s The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, Michael Stipe laughs at 2:32 after accidentally mispronouncing 'Dr. Suess' as 'Dr. Zeus', which he had been consistently doing during the recording.

    Also, R.E.M.'s Flowers of Guatemala has an irritating feedback squeal at 2:12 just before the guitar solo. I can't imagine how they missed it and left it in.
    posted by Adam_S at 7:01 AM on August 7, 2008

    Ben Folds Five's "Whatever and Ever Amen" has tons of little things, largely because the album was (allegedly) recorded in one take, start to finish.

    Two standouts are a ringing phone during "Steven's Last Night in Town" and Robert's bass coming unplugged (and then being plugged in again) during "Song for The Dumped."
    posted by SpiffyRob at 7:13 AM on August 7, 2008

    Hot Water Music - On their Live at the Hardback CD, Drummer George Reblo tears his snare and finishes the last 20 seconds with his tom. After the song, you can hear him talking about it laughing.
    On their recently re-released Neverender, the drum mic was never cut off, so after a minute or so of silence, you can hear him do a little drum beat.

    Brand New's, Your New Favorite Weapon, in Jude Law and a Summer Abroad, when the singer starts in on the second verse, you can hear a re-recording of him singing the line over again during a period of silence.

    In The Prize Fighter Inferno, during the song "The Missing McCloud Boys" , singer Claudio Sanchez obviously starts the second verse early, and that line was infact cut, however not cleanly, so you hear for a second "Nigh..." and immediately after that the proper verse starts in, sounding strange.
    posted by TeachTheDead at 7:16 AM on August 7, 2008

    I can hear a flub in the synth solo @ 2:50 in Led Zep's All My Love. It's been driving me crazy for 20+ years.
    posted by yort at 7:17 AM on August 7, 2008

    Nivana's Polly, Cobain comes in early on the vocal track and they left it.

    There is a Beatles song with an editing error, I'll have to try and recall which one.
    posted by Ponderance at 7:36 AM on August 7, 2008

    In Are You Going to Be My Girl by JET, the lead singer clears his throat before singing. Apparently they liked it enough to keep it.
    posted by Axle at 7:42 AM on August 7, 2008

    In "What is the Light?" by The Flaming Lips, you can hear a watch beep 54 seconds into the song.
    posted by borkencode at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2008

    The master Beatles list has already nailed it, but my favourite flub remains Paul McCartney audibly trying to contain his laughter at 1:19 of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.' Rumour has it John Lennon mooned him as he was singing 'So he waits behind/writing 50 times "I must not be so"'.

    Not mentioned here already: 'Pac-Man Fever' by Buckner & Garcia. The song includes numerous audio samples from multiple real Pac-Man machines. One recording took place at a deli. On the LP version of the song, a man can be heard ordering a pastrami sandwich. The remastered CD version has this edited out.
    posted by spamguy at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2008

    Surprised nobody has mentioned Cash's humming in "Walk the Line." Supposedly, he hummed to get the pitch, and it was left in the recording accidentally.
    posted by nitsuj at 8:07 AM on August 7, 2008

    The Stone Roses - I am the Resurrection. In the extended track after it sounds like the song has finished, John Squire comes in early on the guitar solo and then restarts the riff. It ended up being one of my favourite parts of the song as it added a certain earthy quality to it.
    posted by sonicgeeza at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2008

    How about the bass in Dylan's "Buckets of Rain" (Blood on the Tracks), which is so out of tune in that I can't listen to it? When it hits the high notes in the verses, it's horribly flat.
    posted by Beardman at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2008

    The piano intro of War's "Why can't we be friends?" has a pretty big flub in it.

    At about 1:46 in The Beatles' "If I Fell", Paul can't quite reach the note he's going for.
    posted by chazlarson at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2008

    This is probably not what you are looking for since it's a B side/outtake, but REM's cover of "King of the Road" is very funny. It's on Dead Letter Office, and the entire band is completely drunk during the recording. They don't really know the words and you can hear Mike Mills yelling out chord changes in the background.
    posted by peep at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2008

    I don't know if it's a mistake, but Ian MacKaye snarling, "Play it faster!" during the opening riff of the song "Minor Threat" makes me very, very happy.
    posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:04 AM on August 7, 2008

    Does over-compression count? If so, John Mayer's Heavier Things has a number of distortion artifacts throughout the album.

    Also, near the end of Counting Crows' Recovering the Satellites you can hear Adam Duritz call out "last one" to end the song.
    posted by phrayzee at 10:06 AM on August 7, 2008

    At the start of "Black Country Woman" by Led Zep, there's a plane flying overhead, and the sound engineer asks if the band wants to take it off. Plant says "Nah, leave it, yeah." and then starts the song.

    At the start of "Lady Pilot" by Neko Case, right after the initial guitar chords, Neko says "what!?" and then continues on as normal.
    posted by LionIndex at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2008

    While you have the Todd Rundgren Something/Anything album out, "You Really Left Me Sore" has lots of flubs in it. He even messes up the countoff.

    Mary Wells' "My Guy" has one note that's always sounded awful to me: the "my" in the line "my opinion is, he's the cream of the crop".

    "Aboio", from the Caetano Veloso/Gilberto Gil album Tropicalia 2, has a weird drum part that comes in around 0:44 and fades away some 15 seconds later, never really having much to do with the rest of the song
    posted by bink at 10:34 AM on August 7, 2008

    Billy Corgan recorded the vocals for the song "Starla" from Pisces Iscariot in a closet; at 5:27 you can hear the siren of a police car going by outside.

    At 0:07 in "It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big, I am So Small...Do I Stand a Chance?" by The Flaming Lips, you can hear Wayne Coyne say "you can turn it up even a little bit more."

    The lyrics to "Live and Let Die" by Wings contain a horrifying, repeated grammatical mistake ("...this ever changing world in which we live in")
    posted by sinfony at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2008


    I think the real lyric is "...if this ever changing world in which we're living". Still not elegant, but nowhere near as horrifying.
    posted by grateful at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2008

    Just listened to it and you may be right. Damnable Brits and their accents.
    posted by sinfony at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2008

    There's a horrible bass flub on JJ Cale's 'Cocaine' on Troubador - right on the last note of the third chorus. Also there's an audible, sighed 'Fuck...' right at the start of 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac
    posted by Jofus at 2:19 PM on August 7, 2008

    In Neutral Milk Hotel's "Oh Comely", you can hear someone saying "holy shit!" off in the background, right near the end (you'll want to turn up the speakers, it's quiet).

    Iirc, the story behind it is that the lead singer came into the studio, sat down and played the song, which none of the band had heard. One take, 8 minutes or so. Worthy of a holy shit moment.
    posted by Lemurrhea at 3:03 PM on August 7, 2008

    Best answer: Obsessive list of Led Zeppelin anomalies here. Lots of them include detailed timestamps. My favorite is on Out on the Tiles where you can hear Jimmy Page say "stop" at about 1:23 as he tries to keep time. You have to turn it up kind of loud, but once you hear it it's right there.
    posted by Who_Am_I at 3:34 PM on August 7, 2008

    I just need to point out that Michael Stipe did manage to sing "Dr Suess" (and not
    "Dr Zeus", which he had been doing in rehearsal) on the version of "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" that made the album. But the story is correct otherwise.
    posted by Coatlicue at 4:19 PM on August 7, 2008

    In the album version of 'Common People' by Pulp, you can hear Jarvis Cocker chatting during just about the quietest part of the song at around 3:30.
    posted by doctorvee at 4:25 PM on August 7, 2008

    "Every Picture Tells a Story", Rod Stewart. There's an early false start in there toward the end of the song. About the 3:48 mark: "loo--" then "look how wrong you can be".
    posted by Savannah at 10:14 PM on August 7, 2008

    I'll Be There - Jackson 5

    From Wikipedia:

    "Michael's ad-libbed "just look over your shoulders, honey" is an allusion to "Reach Out I'll Be There", a 1966 number-one hit single recorded by The Four Tops. He was instructed by Gordy to say "just look over your shoulder" (exactly as Levi Stubbs had said it in "Reach Out I'll Be There"), but the slightly flubbed line was allowed to remain in the final mix."
    posted by coizero at 5:05 PM on August 8, 2008

    Jethro Tull's 17 minute song, Baker Street Muse, from the album Minstrel in the Gallery. It begins with a heavy acoustic guitar, ah, noodle for about 8 secs, then you hear Ian Anderson say clearly, "Shit, shit, shit... take two." At the end, rather deliberately, you hear Anderson casing his guitar, walking to the door, singing the lead line to himself, trying the door a bit, and then exclaiming, "I can't get out!"

    posted by Jezebella at 1:03 PM on August 9, 2008

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