Vail: Ski town will skank Thursday night |

Vail: Ski town will skank Thursday night

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyDave Wakeling, the guitarist and lead singer for The English Beat, will perform along with the band at the Sandbar in West Vail on Thursday.

VAIL, Colorado –So what if you thought Sir Elton was saying “Hold me closer, Tony Danza,” instead of “Hold me closer tiny dancer” for much of your teens. You’re likely not the only one.

There’s even a word for the breakdowns in meaning that happens somewhere between the radio speaker and your ear: mondegreen. Even though the word “mondegreen” wasn’t officially added to the Webster’s Dictionary until 2008, song lyrics and phrases have been being misinterpreted or misheard well, for probably most of time.

Take the song “Mirror in the Bathroom” from the ’80s ska band The English Beat. Some people heard the lyrics as “Meet her in the bathroom.” Still other people heard the lyrics correctly, but misinterpreted their meaning, assuming the song alluded to snorting a certain white powder.

“We came to America in 1980 after the song had just been a hit in England and everyone thought it was about cocaine,” said lead singer and guitarist Dave Wakeling during a phone interview this week. “They all thought it was hilarious and funny that I’d gotten away with it somehow. There were all these knowing winks and sniffs, like ‘that mirror in the bathroom, eh babe?’ I kept saying, ‘no, its not like that.’ We never had any money for that you see.”

Really the song was about not wanting to go to work at a construction site on a snowy day, Wakeling said.

“I didn’t want to go to work and I was having a shave and just started talking to myself in the mirror. I said, ‘Look, the door’s locked. We could just stay here. We don’t have to go.'”

After penning the song Wakeling hesitated to take the next step.

“I though, nah, it’s not going to work. You can’t have a pop song called ‘Mirror in the Bathroom.’ That’s crazy.”

But it wasn’t crazy, and the song was soon a hit in England and the U.S.

The original English Beat broke up in 1983 after only three albums and a handful of hits. Five of the seven members, including Wakeling, reunited in 2003 for a one-time-only show at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“I had a few gos at trying to reunite the whole band after that … but we all sort of happily agreed I would do it by myself here in America,” Wakeling said in his still-thick British accent. “We’ve gone round doing that for four or five years and developed quite a following.”

Wakeling and his bandmates will perform at the Sandbar in West Vail Thursday at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available at the door.

Thursday’s performance will be the band’s second time performing in Vail, Wakeling said.

“We played outside in Vail a few years back. It’s always fun playing outside when your hands are like pieces of wood.”

Wakeling said he particularly likes playing in ski towns because skiers tend to be good at skanking – dancing to ska music.

“And they have good energy, they don’t run out of wind half way through the show, they can keep going. Our concert will be perfect for anyone wanting to begin their conditioning regime. It works exactly the same muscles as skiing – it’s perfect for it.”

And though some of the songs The English Beat will almost assuredly perform Thursday in West Vail are nearly three decades old, Wakely said the band’s music is not only still popular – “people are getting a chance to be nostalgic for their college days,” Wakeling said – the songs are increasingly relevant.

“Oddly, the social climate in England in the late ’70s – recession, unemployment in double figures – lots of social questions abut what direction society should go and all with a vague and terrifying nuclear threat in the background and suddenly our lyrics sound very contemporary. What a lucky coincidence we’re going through the same hell again,” Wakeling said, chuckling.

Along with the usual songs – “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save it for Later,” etc. – the band’s also been playing nine new songs at their recent concerts, which they hope to put on a record by spring 2010. Audiences have been receptive to the new stuff, too, Wakeling said.

“When we opened for Reel Big Fish, we had teenagers clapping and crowd surfing. They never heard of us – they’d say ‘English who?’ But they liked it, and that’s all that matters.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

What: The English Beat

Where: Sandbar Sports Grill, West Vail

When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Cost: $20, available at the door on online at

More information: Call 970-476-4314

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