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#1
Old 04-11-2009, 09:56 PM
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Mellencamp: Cherry Bomb: That's When a Spoke Was a Smoke, errr, Sport?

I always heard it as "that's when a spoke was a spoke." But it made no sense to me: maybe some mid-western euphemism?

So, I see on some search pages "Thats when sport was a sport." What the hell is that?

I have also heard "that's when a smoke was a smoke," profound, isn't it?

BTW I love the song...... this one line has always been elusive. What is it? What Indianian concept do I fail to grasp?

Cheers.
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#2
Old 04-11-2009, 10:19 PM
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The line is "that's when a smoke was a smoke". I think it relates to old cigarette advertising but I don't know what brand used that line.
#3
Old 04-11-2009, 11:01 PM
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Man, I've heard of mondegreens before, but you are waaaay off.

"Cherry Bomb" is a nostalgic song, in which John Mellencamp is reminiscing about his teen years, back in the Sixties, when he and his friends used to hang out at a club called the Cherry Bomb and listen to the latest new tunes.

The line goes, "That's when Smokey was smoking, and 'Groovin' " was groovin."

Smokey is Smokey Robinson, Mellencap's favorite soul singer of the Sixties.

And "Groovin' " was a smash hit for the Young Rascals, who were Mellencamp's favorite rock band in the Sixties.
#4
Old 04-11-2009, 11:26 PM
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One interesting bit of trivia from the video of this song:

http://popculturedish.blogspot.com/2...years-old.html
Quote:
The most notable thing about the clip is its depiction of an interracial couple slow dancing together. I remember that during a 1991 appearance on "Later With Bob Costas", John told the story of how he received threats from the KKK because of the video.
#5
Old 04-12-2009, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
"Cherry Bomb" is a nostalgic song, in which John Mellencamp is reminiscing about his teen years, back in the Sixties, when he and his friends used to hang out at a club called the Cherry Bomb and listen to the latest new tunes.

The line goes, "That's when Smokey was smoking, and 'Groovin' " was groovin."

Smokey is Smokey Robinson, Mellencap's favorite soul singer of the Sixties.

And "Groovin' " was a smash hit for the Young Rascals, who were Mellencamp's favorite rock band in the Sixties.

Watch the video linked to in the link below. He is not saying "when Smokey was smoking".
#6
Old 04-12-2009, 01:06 AM
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I think the line is "that's when sport was sport" but he pronounces it like "spote".
#7
Old 04-12-2009, 01:14 AM
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Why couldn't it be: "That's when a smoke was a smoke"

Meaning a guy was smoking a "real" cigarette?

Lucky Strike, or a Camel, maybe?

Just my wild ass guess!

Quasi
#8
Old 04-12-2009, 01:21 AM
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That's really what I always thought it was. But every lyrics page I looked at on Google said the word was 'sport', and then in watching the video and listening through headphones, it does look and sound to me like he's saying sport, but with an odd pronounciation, like spote.
#9
Old 04-12-2009, 01:57 AM
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When in doubt, I always go with the lyric sheet included with the album, if there is one. The lyric sheet that comes with the album "The Lonesome Jubilee" says, "That's when a sport was a sport."

I take it to mean "real" sports such as football, basketball, or baseball, as opposed to extreme "sports" created for ESPN or MTV or any of the various cable entertainment networks.
#10
Old 04-12-2009, 02:04 AM
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That wasn't when pronunciation was pronunciation.
#11
Old 04-12-2009, 02:14 AM
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But at least back then I knew how to spell it.
#12
Old 04-12-2009, 03:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starving Artist View Post
That's really what I always thought it was. But every lyrics page I looked at on Google said the word was 'sport', and then in watching the video and listening through headphones, it does look and sound to me like he's saying sport, but with an odd pronounciation, like spote.
This is seriously disappointing, because "smoke" makes a million times more sense than the nonsensical "sport."
#13
Old 04-12-2009, 03:23 AM
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I know Kiddos!

....."A smoke was a smoke".....is how I always "heard" it! I never knew anyone thought any different.

How about we write the artist, and ask?




Q
#14
Old 04-12-2009, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchiveGuy View Post
This is seriously disappointing, because "smoke" makes a million times more sense than the nonsensical "sport."
I don't know. If his Cherry Bomb days were in the late sixties/early seventies as his ages in the song indicate, dope smoking had been in vogue for anywhere from a couple of years to five or six. In that context it doesn't sound to me like he was necessarily talking about 'smoke' being store-bought cigarettes. And it could be that among his crowd, 'sport' was 'rackin' around, chasing girls, drinkin' beer', etc., or perhaps it refers to bodybuilding, lugeing, or other activities that were becoming popular then but which many people didn't regard as true sports.

All of this has admittedly been pulled out of thin air, but I suspect the disconnect is simply that he's using the word in a context familiar to him but not to the rest of us.

ETA: Q, cochrane says the lyric sheet that came with the album says it's 'sport'. That's probably about as close to the horse's mouth as we're gonna get.

Last edited by Starving Artist; 04-12-2009 at 03:53 AM.
#15
Old 04-12-2009, 04:16 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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The lyric sheet does indeed say, "That's when a sport was a sport". For whatever reason, I'd always assumed it meant 'sport' in the context of someone being a 'good sport' or something similar.
#16
Old 04-12-2009, 04:24 AM
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Damn good song at any rate. And props to Lisa Germano. Her fiddle is probably 40% of the reason I like that song so much.
#17
Old 04-12-2009, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
The line goes, "That's when Smokey was smoking, and 'Groovin' " was groovin."
Your version would've been better.
#18
Old 04-12-2009, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem
....."A smoke was a smoke".....is how I always "heard" it! I never knew anyone thought any different.
Ditto this. "That's when a smoke was a smoke" always made and still makes perfect sense to me. I'm completely shocked that it possibly could be anything else -- it never even occurred to me that it could be something different. Dang.
#19
Old 04-12-2009, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blank Slate View Post
That wasn't when pronunciation was pronunciation.
Big wheel keep on toinin', Proud Mary keep on boinin' ...


I always heard "smoke", too, but I don't own the album and have never seen the lyric sheet.
#20
Old 04-12-2009, 02:49 PM
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I wonder if it really was smoke when recorded and for some reason the decision was made to disavow it, thus the lyric sheets stating the word was sport. I know I said earlier that the video led me to believe it really was 'sport' but frankly, had I not already read that the lyric sheets all showed it to be sport I may well not have heard it that way.
#21
Old 04-12-2009, 03:15 PM
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I always heard it as "sport" on the radio before I ever bought the album anyway. The lyric sheet just confirmed how I heard it as far as I was concerned.
#22
Old 04-12-2009, 03:35 PM
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It's good to know that you heard it that way before learning what the lyric sheet said. I've never had particularly acute hearing anyway. Even in my teens it seemed that many of the people I knew could understand certain words in songs that I couldn't make out. Thanks for the clarification.
#23
Old 04-12-2009, 03:36 PM
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SongMeanings | Lyrics
That's when a sport was a sport
And grooving was grooving
And dancing meant everything
We were young and we were improving
Laughing, laughing with our friends
Holding hands meant something, baby
Outside the club "Cherry Bomb"
Our hearts were really thumping
Say yeah yeah yeah
Say yeah yeah yeah
#24
Old 04-12-2009, 04:14 PM
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Okay, I just picked up my Jasmine, looked up the chords and played and sang it.

Bert looked at me funny and asked me, "Dad? What's a spote?"

(Bert is my domestic long hair kitty)

So I sang it the way I heard it originally.

Y'all don't think ol' Johnny "Cougar" will mind, do ya?

Quasi
#25
Old 04-12-2009, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal View Post
The lyric sheet does indeed say, "That's when a sport was a sport". For whatever reason, I'd always assumed it meant 'sport' in the context of someone being a 'good sport' or something similar.
Back in the day, a "sport" was someone who dressed in a flashy manner, played the ladies, and had money in his pocket.
#26
Old 04-12-2009, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchiveGuy View Post
This is seriously disappointing, because "smoke" makes a million times more sense than the nonsensical "sport."
Uh, you're just cottoning on to the fact the Bruce Cougar Mellensteen is a poseur retard?

Very near the top of my list of most violently overrated "artists" of all time. When I'm dictator, all traces of him will be expunged from the planet. He's up there with Phil Collins and Stevie Nicks for me as far as total wastes of carbon.
#27
Old 04-12-2009, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
Okay, I just picked up my Jasmine, looked up the chords and played and sang it.

Bert looked at me funny and asked me, "Dad? What's a spote?"

(Bert is my domestic long hair kitty)

So I sang it the way I heard it originally.

Y'all don't think ol' Johnny "Cougar" will mind, do ya?

Quasi
Not to belabor the point, Quasi, but I just looked at the video on Mellancamp's website here, and you can see a little more clearly (assuming you've only been looking at Youtube versions like I have) that he is saying sport...especially at about -2.33 of the video. You can even hear a hint of an 'r' in there sometimes which makes it a little less 'spote' like.

Hope that helps.
#28
Old 04-12-2009, 04:53 PM
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Yeah, I know it's "sport" but sing it as "smoke" when the song pops up on my iPod. I also know the correct line is "outside the Club Cherry Bomb" but sing that one as "outside the curb, my cherry bomb." I always thought the cherry bomb was his car waiting out on the street.

Good song -- I listened to it a bit too much when it was new and my appreciation of it has waned, but the tempo is just right for long-stride, medium-paced walking.
#29
Old 04-12-2009, 05:11 PM
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Y'all crack me up, I swear!

I know, it's "sport", and I ain't gonna argue except on the Phil Collins thing: I go a little nuts on my Pearls when I'm playing along with that one song In The Air Tonight. Otherwise I agree about the carbonic waste thing.

Okay, I'll sing "sport", but not "spote" and I will alternate with "sport" and "smoke".

Oh and one other thing: I love my guitars, but I'm a better drummer, and also I'm no lead player. "I'm strictly rhythm and don't wanna make it cry or sing".

And one other thing (mush alert): I'm very glad to have y'all to talk to.

Quasi
#30
Old 04-12-2009, 05:28 PM
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And we you, my friend.

I'd have loved to have been a drummer, but I would never have been able to get past the pat-your-head-and-rub-your-stomach aspects of it.

Last edited by Starving Artist; 04-12-2009 at 05:29 PM.
#31
Old 04-12-2009, 08:19 PM
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Well, when I searched for 'thats when a smoke was a smoke' I got this:
http://stlyrics.com/songs/m/mell...omb308789.html

I wonder if in order to be politcally correct the record label changed the 'official' lyrics?
#32
Old 04-12-2009, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
I know Kiddos!

....."A smoke was a smoke".....is how I always "heard" it! I never knew anyone thought any different.

How about we write the artist, and ask?





Q
OK. I found a "Contact Us" link on his website and did just that. Of course chances are a zillion to one that he or anyone else will actually respond. Hang tight.
#33
Old 04-12-2009, 08:39 PM
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I hope you provided a link to this thread. He might be more inclined to answer if he could witness all this good faith speculation first hand.
#34
Old 04-12-2009, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Starving Artist View Post
I hope you provided a link to this thread. He might be more inclined to answer if he could witness all this good faith speculation first hand.
I did!

ETA: Well, ya' good apart from threadshitter lissener.

Last edited by Leaffan; 04-12-2009 at 08:42 PM.
#35
Old 04-12-2009, 08:41 PM
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This reminds me of the lyrics to the song "Ana Ng" by They Might Be Giants. It contains the lines "All alone at the '64 World's Fair/Eighty dolls yelling 'small girl after all'". Which makes no sense. The dolls at that exhibit were actually singing "It's a Small World After All" and that fits in much better with the theme of the song (which is about a guy whose perfect woman lives on the other side of the world so they never meet).
#36
Old 04-12-2009, 08:45 PM
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Sport was a sport? You've got to be kiddin' me.

[lalalalalalalalala-I never opened this thread-lalalalalalalala]
#37
Old 04-12-2009, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
I did!
Great! Here's hoping you hear back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan
ETA: Well, ya' good apart from threadshitter lissener.
Seconded.
#38
Old 04-12-2009, 08:59 PM
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I know John Mellencamp; he lives here in Bloomington, IN. My parents were at one point friends with him and his very attractive wife, and though I don't think they've hung out recently, they still know each other. Actually, I was in the music video for "Your Life Is Now" when I was 12. Mellencamp is a good guy; he is also an epic smoker, so I suspect that he is saying "smoke" in the song. Smoking seems to be a passion of his. If I run into him, I will definitely ask him about this.
#39
Old 04-12-2009, 09:04 PM
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Great! Thanks.
#40
Old 04-12-2009, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
I know John Mellencamp; he lives here in Bloomington, IN. My parents were at one point friends with him and his very attractive wife, and though I don't think they've hung out recently, they still know each other. Actually, I was in the music video for "Your Life Is Now" when I was 12. Mellencamp is a good guy; he is also an epic smoker, so I suspect that he is saying "smoke" in the song. Smoking seems to be a passion of his. If I run into him, I will definitely ask him about this.

((We are not worthy))
((We are not worthy))
#41
Old 04-12-2009, 09:07 PM
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No contribution towards resolving the question, but this may be my one chance to fess up that when I first heard that tune, lo those many years ago, my ears Mondegreened that line into "That's when the spokesmen spoke" which of course left me utterly baffled for a couple of months.
#42
Old 04-12-2009, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
((We are not worthy))
((We are not worthy))
Hah, when the only name you can drop is John Mellencamp (who most people still think is called "John Cougar Mellencamp") you're not some kind of big shot or anything, just a resident of Bloomington, IN. He's a part of the "local color" here - his yellow Viper can be seen driving around during the summer and he shows up at restaurants and stuff with his wife and kids a lot. His sons are named "Hud" and "Speck."
#43
Old 04-12-2009, 09:26 PM
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Oh My Og!!!!!!!!!!

That's terrific, I hope he lets you know or signs in here instead (even better).

I kid about his earlier name, but have great respect for his efforts on behalf of Farm-Aid, and loved Scarecrow!

You know?

This whole thread put me in thought about that old saw: "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke".

I don't think the guy who said that "got any" that night, do y'all?

Not unless his SO smoked cigars, I mean!

Oh, and PS:"There's a bathroom on the right!", JRD (Mis-heard Creedence lyric)

Quasi

Last edited by Quasimodem; 04-12-2009 at 09:30 PM.
#44
Old 04-12-2009, 09:58 PM
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"A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke" -- R. Kipling.

(And no, I never kippled.)
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#45
Old 04-13-2009, 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by lissener View Post
Uh, you're just cottoning on to the fact the Bruce Cougar Mellensteen is a poseur retard?

Very near the top of my list of most violently overrated "artists" of all time. When I'm dictator, all traces of him will be expunged from the planet. He's up there with Phil Collins and Stevie Nicks for me as far as total wastes of carbon.
Hey, lissener, I'd like to invite you to hear me sing along to karaoke music sometime. I have 17 John Mellencamp karaoke tracks, yes, including "Cherry Bomb."

Last edited by cochrane; 04-13-2009 at 02:32 AM.
#46
Old 04-13-2009, 03:32 AM
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Cochrane?

Got anything on YouTube?

Just sayin' that if you've got THAT much Mellencamp, then you must be awesome doing' the K thang!

Bill
#47
Old 04-13-2009, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
Cochrane?

Got anything on YouTube?

Just sayin' that if you've got THAT much Mellencamp, then you must be awesome doing' the K thang!

Bill
No, Q, I don't have a video camera, so haven't bothered with the YouTube thing. I've tried making some audio recordings of myself, but I'm my own harshest critic. I just sing for my own entertainment, and because I think singing helps keep my mind sharp. I live alone except for two dogs, and they're either tone deaf or gracious enough not to howl when I sing. Besides, "Cherry Bomb" isn't the one I sound best on, although I don't think I sound half bad singing "Check It Out" or "Our Country."

Besides, I wanted to needle lissener about his "poseur" crack. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about Mellencamp knows how much he hated the "Cougar" monicker and how much he rebelled against his first manager's trying to package him into another David Bowie.

Last edited by cochrane; 04-13-2009 at 06:55 AM.
#48
Old 04-13-2009, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
When in doubt, I always go with the lyric sheet included with the album, if there is one. The lyric sheet that comes with the album "The Lonesome Jubilee" says, "That's when a sport was a sport."

I take it to mean "real" sports such as football, basketball, or baseball, as opposed to extreme "sports" created for ESPN or MTV or any of the various cable entertainment networks.
Not a bad theory, but none of those extreme sports even really existed in 1987.

This is all very interesting, as I never knew there was any controversy about the lyrics to this song. I just always assumed it was smoke.
#49
Old 04-13-2009, 07:53 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Until this thread, I had no idea anyone thought it was smoke. Even though he pronounces sport with (this is my non-linguist guess) a glottal t at the end, there's a definate 'sp' at the beginning.

Last edited by Kal; 04-13-2009 at 07:54 AM.
#50
Old 04-13-2009, 08:25 AM
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FTR, I always thought it was "smoke." If anyone's counting votes...
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