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Bluff The Listener
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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener
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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Our panelists tell three stories about song lyrics that had an impact on a news story, only one of which is true.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Amy Dickinson, Roy Blount Jr. and Greg Proops. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thank all of you.


SAGAL: Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

RIZAN HAJAL: Hi, this is Rizan from Sioux Falls, S.D.

SAGAL: Sioux Falls, S.D.?

HAJAL: Right.

SAGAL: Yeah, we have actually been there to Sioux Falls, S.D. We did our show there some years ago. How are things in Sioux Falls?

HAJAL: I think you should come back. I went to that show, and it was wonderful.

SAGAL: Oh, thank you. Well, we miss you. Welcome to our show, Rizan. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Rizan's topic?

KURTIS: All We Are Is Dust In The Wind.

SAGAL: We all love a good song lyric, from "Baby Got Back" to Fat Bottomed Girl."


SAGAL: But this week, we read about lyrics actually having an impact on a news story. They played a central role. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Only one of them will be telling the truth. Pick that one, you'll win our prize - Carl Kassel's voice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

HAJAL: I am.

SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Amy Dickinson.

AMY DICKINSON: Many people's lives have been altered by the Kenny Rogers song "The Gambler," mainly from people trying to ram hot pokers through their ears in order to rid themselves of the catchy earworm. But last week, the world learned of the first-ever documented account of the song actually making someone - someone besides Kenny Rogers, that is - rich. Michael Bogart sells aluminum cladding. He had never gambled or even really played the game of poker before. But then he visited Las Vegas for a trade show. After he downed a tumbler of Creme de Minthe and soda at the bar at the Aladdin Hotel, Bogart decided to try his luck. Afterward, he said I don't know. It was like I was in a trance or something and all I could draw on was the lyrics of "The Gambler." You know how when it says every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser, but it's knowing when to hold them and knowing when to fold them? Well, I just kept thinking about that, especially the holding them and the folding them part. As the gambler cashed in his chips and claimed his $160,000 reward, he said I also knew enough not to count my money while I was sitting at the table.


SAGAL: Somebody actually uses the advice in the song "The Gambler." Your next story of someone being saved by song comes from Roy Blunt Jr.

ROY BLOUNT, JR.: "Margaritaville" - land of quicksilver enchantment, where even tattoos can change in the twinkling, even in a court of law. Let me explain - Key West, Fla., aka Margaritaville, home of the salty troubadour Jimmy Buffett was in court this week trying to deny a license to a perspective new tattoo parlor. However magical a town may be, what happens here stays here doesn't apply to getting tattooed. Key West already has enough tattoo shops, the town argued before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Too many tattoos and tourists might go home full of regret, the town maintained, citing Mr. Buffett's lyrics - (singing) don't know the reason, stayed here all season. Nothing to show but this brand-new tattoo. And haven't we all been there? Oh, Margie, I don't even know where you are today, except all across my chest.


BLOUNT, JR.: But - but the judge was hip to the rest of the song. Far from suffering embarrassment over his tattoo, the judge said, the figure goes on to sing it's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie. Can't you just to see her right now wiggling on your forearm? The judge could. He ruled for the body artist.


SAGAL: All right...


SAGAL: ...Lyrics to Jimmy Buffett's classic "Margaritaville" playing a role in the legal proceedings down in Key West. Your last story of a lyric making a difference comes from Greg Proops.

GREG PROOPS: In the high desert of Cajache County, Ariz., Sheriff big Rod Biddle had been there for 24 years and won every election 'til one woman candidate ran, Sheriff Adele Swanson, a former policewoman from Tucson. Well, big Rod didn't like this because he was pretty macho, and he didn't think a woman should run for sheriff. And he said as much, going so far as to say I don't think people want any or every woman behind the wheel of a sheriff's vehicle. Well, she accused him of being sexist, which he denied like all men do going (snarls). And...


PROOPS: Because as you know, sexism is as patriotic as apple pie. His campaign song was "God Bless The USA" by Lee Greenwood, which goes I thank my lucky stars to be living here today because the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away - or deny the fact that a woman sewed it. Then he would stride in with his 10-gallon stutzen and boots. But there was a debate in Wickenburg, and the tech person in the hotel banquet room running the iPod played a different tune when Rod came out. He walked out to "I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan...


PROOPS: ...Which goes I'm every woman. It's all in me. Anything you want done, baby, I'll do it, naturally. Well, the crowd burst out laughing and he turned red, and then his rival came out, Ms. Swanson, and she came out to "It's Raining Men."


PROOPS: He lost the election. Ms. Swanson won, and the tech guy is now an honorary deputy in Cajache County.

SAGAL: All right here --


SAGAL: All right, here are your choices. One of these things happened recently. Was it from Amy Dickinson, a man who'd never gamble before making lots of money by simply following the advice in Kenny Rogers' "The gambler?" Was it from Roy Blount Jr., the lyrics Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" playing a key role in a lawsuit about a tattoo parlor in Key West or from Greg Proops, how swapping one song's lyrics for another at a rally changed the outcome of an election? Which of these is the real story of a song lyric really making a difference?

HAJAL: As always, they are all very plausible. But I think I'm going to go with Roy's story about Key West.

SAGAL: Did you just say always plausible?


HAJAL: Very plausible.

SAGAL: All right, all right, very plausible. So you're going to go with Roy's story about Key West and the lyrics of "Margaritaville" playing a role there. Is that your choice?

HAJAL: And that's my choice.

SAGAL: All right, well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone involved in the real story.

DONALD CRAIG: Being an expert witness, the "Margaritaville" song was the segue I used to discuss the history of tattoo parlors in the city.

SAGAL: That was Donald Craig. He is the former planning director of the city of Key West. He's the expert witness in the lawsuit who tried to invoke the lyrics of "Margaritaville" and was slapped down by a judge who knew the next verse. Congratulations...

HAJAL: Thank you.

SAGAL: ...You got it right. Roy was telling the truth.


SAGAL: That means you earn a point for Roy - that's because it was his turn to tell the truth. But more importantly, you have won our game. You have won Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Well done, sir.

HAJAL: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing.

HAJAL: Take care, bye-bye.


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