songs

The story of the mix CD or why I know all the words of a random Portuguese song by Jessica Lee


About a month ago, I set off on a road trip with a couple of friends around the eastern coast of Australia.

We had all been on road trips before but we all made the same rookie mistake in not bringing along music for the long 3500 km drive.

We were in luck however as we found out the person who rented the campervan before us had left a mix CD in the player. The twelve songs on this CD would be the only music we had during the full two weeks of our driving. As a result, we became extremely familiar with all the songs.

Though it has been more than a month, I can still tell you which song is on which track.

We didn't mind most of the songs, in fact they were songs we would have listened to anyway. There was some Coldplay, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" (very fitting for an Australian road trip), Michael Jackson, Mumford and Sons, and some indie bands.

One song stood out in particular because it was in a language we didn't recognize and because the tune was more cultural than the rest of the songs on the CD.

I immediately took a liking to this strange and mysterious song and soon learned the words after playing it many many times repeatedly to the chagrin of my travel buddies. They liked the song too, just not as much as I did.

It's refreshing and a little exciting to not know what the words you sing mean. Or to not even know the language of what you're singing. We had deduced the song was European, but that's as far as we got despite my repeated google searches to find out more about the song. In my travels, I met a lovely German couple who recognized the song when I sung it to them, but they didn't know the origins either. However the fact that they knew the song confirmed it was popular in the European market. I didn't figure out more about the song after that. My search to find out more about the song ended soon after the trip finished.

That is, until the other day.

I met three Italian men on the beach in Bali. We got to talking about music and they revealed the song was actually Portuguese. This time, I managed to find out the name of the song through Google after adding "portuguese" beside a lyric I sounded out. After a month and a half, I FINALLY found the name of the song.

The song is called "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" and is performed by Michel Telo. In English, the title is roughly translated to "Ah When I Get My Hands On You".

Basically for the past month, I've been singing in Portuguese of the naughty things I'm going to do to some hot girl at a dance club when I get my hands on her. I think this is hilarious because now I know how to pick up chicks in Portuguese. I mean, if I ever wanted to.

It's a really catchy song so you can't really blame me for singing it nonstop. Even now that I know what the lyrics mean, I would still sing it aloud in public if I ever went to visit Portugal.

Listen here for yourself and let me know what you think:


Readers, I'd love to hear from you! Do you have any strange or funny stories involving language on your travels?

Kookaburra sits on the old gumtree by Jessica Lee


Though I've been in Australia for four months now, it was only until recently that I saw a Kookaburra bird close-up.

I was on a weekend trip at an area where the Kookaburras were used to people feeding them. As a result, the Kookaburra in the photo above didn't fly away when I moved in close to snap a photo. In fact, it took food off of our plates until one of the girls chased it away.

Growing up in Canada, as a preschooler, I was taught the Kookaburra song.

It's actually a really popular song as the American I was with also knew the song.

I was curious about the origins of the song, how it got to North America, so I did some googling. Turns out it was written in 1932 by Marion Sinclair for a contest held by Victorian Guides. The theme of the contest was "Australia" of course and the song was debuted at the World Jamboree in Victoria in 1934. I am guessing that is how it got brought back as a nursery rhyme.

It was pretty cool finally seeing the Kookaburra as it cleared up all the questions I had of what I was singing about all those years ago. I mean, I'm sure it was explained to me at one point that a Kookaburra is a bird, but in the beginning, I might have thought a Kookaburra was a person.

Here are the lyrics if you were curious (I can sing it to you if you see me in person, just ask):

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That's not a monkey, that's me!