We all make mistakes. Whether it’s burning your toast in a rush to get ready for work in the morning or calling your boss “sugarplum” in a text meant for your significant other, our lives are littered with little errors that leave us blushing and wishing that the ground would swallow us whole.
But in the words of Homer Simpson, weaselling out of stuff is what separates us from the animals - except the weasel. So to make a mistake and then consciously choose to own it takes some nerve. To then willingly put it out into the public sphere and broadcast it to the world takes the kind of cojones that most of us can’t even comprehend.
In the case of some musicians though, that’s exactly what they’ve decided to do. Perhaps it’s a happy accident, perhaps it’s the sheer fatigue of long, arduous slogs cooped up in the studio for weeks at a time, but there are a whole host of songs from massive artists that contain blunders which, for one reason or another, have been allowed to stay in the final mix.
10. "Roxanne"'s Bum Note
The Police wrote Roxanne after a pretty disastrous trip to France on which they were supposed to play as support for punk pioneers The Damned. Driving all the way to the continent in a battered old Citroen, the trio got there only to find that the show had been cancelled, and that their hotel was a cramped dosshouse overlooking the Parisian red light district.
Sting, ever the pragmatist, managed to craft a global smash hit out of the ordeal, but it’s kind of fitting that a song with such chaotic origins should also start with a bit of a screw-up.
If you listen carefully, just before his distinctive reggae-infused bass line comes skulking in, there’s a bum note, as if somebody has just sat on a piano by accident. And that’s exactly what it was. During the recording process, just before launching into the take that would ultimately catapult the band to stardom, the bassist went and plonked himself down on the old ivories by mistake. Nobody took it out, and the rest, as they say, is history.