A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

In "Blinded by the Light," what exactly is the lyric following the title phrase?

July 26, 1996

Dear Cecil:

The song "Blinded by the Light" — I have no idea who wrote it or sang it, but it's your job to know these things. I was wondering what the male vocalist says after the title phrase of the song. Is it "revved up like a deuce" or "ripped off like a douche" or some other phrase?

Cecil replies:

URSMRTRNI? DLUR, TRKE.

"Blinded by the Light" was written by a New Jersey musician named Bruce Springsteen. Maybe you've heard of him. It was on his Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. album.

Bruce's lyrics were no paragon of clarity, but at least you could understand the words: "Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night."  Some claim the "deuce" being referred to is the 1932 Ford Coupe beloved of hotrodders (cf. the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe"). Maybe, but when you're talking about a song whose opening line goes on about madman drummers, bummers, and Indians in the summer, I'm not making any definite claims.

The Manfred Mann's Earth Band ("Quinn the Eskimo") did a cover version of the tune in 1976. It became a hit, no doubt because the band made the lyrics even more opaque than they already were. They changed the line in question to "wrapped up like a deuce."

What's it mean? I'm barely on speaking terms with my own subconscious. Don't ask me to explain someone else's.

The mosquitoes swarm

Dear Cecil:

AHA! I've been reading and enjoying your column for many years, and I finally caught a goof. In your explanation of the lyrics to "Blinded by the Light," you parenthetically implied that Manfred Mann's Earth Band was known for "Quinn the Eskimo." Nope! It was the group Manfred Mann that had the 1968 hit with this Bob Dylan song, not Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The Earth Band emerged following the dissolution of Manfred Mann (the group, not the guy).

Cecil replies:

Nick. Suppose my group Cecil had a monster hit with the Dylan tune "Nick the Nitpicker." And suppose a few years later I formed a new group called Cecil's Terrestrial Musical Organization. And suppose finally that I did another arrangement of "Nick the Nitpicker," and we sang it all the time because everybody expected us to, and we put it on two of our albums including "Live in Hungary Right After Manfred Mann's Earth Band Played There." You think I could object if some 21st-century Einstein said my second band was "known" for the song, even though it had been made famous by my first?

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