A Case of Mistaken Identity


Today’s post gathers together a few favorite cases of mistaken identity.  That first track was “Disguises” by the Who.

This recording by 60s folk revivalists the New Lost City Ramblers revisits an old time classic.  In “Bill Morgan and his Gal” he is mistaken for financier J.P. Morgan by his girl Liza, and the two have rocky time of it.

02 bill morgan and his gal

I guess now that Hollywood is going to rehash all of John Wayne’s movies next we can expect a bullshit remake of The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance by and by.  Too bad they can’t leave well enough alone because you can’t improve perfection.  The 1962 John Ford western offered a coy criticism of wild west heroism by way of a case of mistaken identity.

The unused theme song of the same title, recorded by Gene Pitney, was an early collaboration by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  You are probably familiar with more than a few of the songs these two wrote together after they formed a partnership.

Say, what’s that really like?  Have you ever wondered?  I’ve always pictured them around an old piano in a big living room, testing out ideas and melodies while drinking scotch and sodas.  Maybe “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” originally started on the east coast (It was “By the Time I Get to Philadelphia”).  Or maybe, just maybe, it was going to be “On a Tandem Bicycle”.  Anyway, I’m fascinated by songwriting partnerships because its not something you see anymore, and these guys were the best, from their first hit (“The Story of my Life” recorded by the great Marty Robbins) nearly to the end (We can’t count Lost Horizon).  I would probably watch a movie about Bacharach and David.  Especially if Jeff Daniels was in it.  And since I don’t know what Hal David looks like, we could have him be played by Roberto Benigni, my favorite actor after Jeff Daniels.

Here, anyway, is the early Bacharach/David collaboration, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance”.

man who shot

Here’s a song I have been wanting to ad to a playlist for a while – This is George Jones and Elvis Costello singing “Stranger in my House”:

stranger in my house

Cyrano de Bergerac essentially perfected the “Cinderella story” format using mistaken identity, although many stories in classical literature contain similar elements (Like how Odysseus is disguised as a beggar when he returns to his court in Ithaca, so he can assess who has remained faithful to him in his absence).  Shakespeare used a variety of familiar mistaken identity plots, most notably in Twelfth Night.  My favorite movie with a mistaken identity story is The Monster, co-written by, directed by and starring one of my favorite actors, Roberto Benigni.  I rarely recommend movies on this site but I do recommend this one!

it ain’t me babe

I’m kind of running out of good ideas here.  This was a lot better as an idea than it has turned out to be as a post.  I guess there’s nothing to do but share the best mistaken identity song I could come up with – Here it is:


“Lola” is the queen of mistaken identity songs.  Or the king.  You figure it out.

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