Thursday, March 12, 2009

Afton, She Smiles



This is the story of how Afton got her name.  
Many moons ago, I'm gonna guess about 1993-94, I was listening to the radio.  The song Mandolin Rain, by Bruce Hornsby came on.  I had heard it lots of times before, but this particular time I heard a line that I hadn't noticed before.  

It said, "Afton, she smiles, it would last for a while. You don't know what you've got til you lose it all."  

I remember standing in my bedroom thinking, "Did he just say Afton?"  I think I like that name. I had heard of Afton, Wyoming but never a person with the name.  I filed it away in my "remember this name for future children" file.  Obviously when the time came, our new baby girl got the name.  Right after this, people started coming out of the woodwork telling us about their grandmothers or their ancestors with the name Afton.  People often asked if it was a family name.  One lady we knew (an artist) even went so far as to paint a picture for us.  Her mom's name was Afton and had died only a few weeks before our Afton was born, she saw it as a sign.  We also receive music and lyrics to the song, "Flow Gently Sweet Afton" I started realizing that Afton wasn't a new, trendy name and I had first thought.  It was more of a vintage name, an old name.  It was a special name.  One that people remembered and connected with.

As I'm sure most of you parents know the assignment your kids receive school or church, to find out where they got their name or what it means.  I always told the story of the Bruce Hornsby song (side note; I also really like the name Mandolin - what is it about that song?).  I played the song occasionally for Afton and the other kids, always pointing out the spot where it says Afton.  When I hear it in stores or other public places, I always stop and listen and see if I can hear the name.  

Now, fast forward a decade.  I'm sitting and watching American Idol season 8.  Scott Macintyre (AI's first blind contestant) was singing, you guess it, Mandolin Rain.  I was excited for him to sing "The Afton Song" and low and behold, at that spot... he changed the lyrics.  Instead of saying "Afton, she smiles..." he sang, "I laughed and she smiles..."  I felt gypped, but figured it was a good call on his part if he didn't want to sing about someone named Afton.  Then I checked the lyrics and... gasp!... those words Scott sang ARE the lyrics.  What the heck?!?  I laughed and laughed... I had been misrepresenting Afton's name to her, her teachers, the other kids and basically anyone who would listen, all these years.

When I told Afton about it she asked, "So I'm really not supposed to be named Afton?"  Then it hit me that complete opposite was true.  If I hadn't heard that name, in that song, at that time, there probably wouldn't have been any other place for me to hear it... and I hate to say it but her name probably would have turned out to be Ashley.  Isn't that boring compared to Afton? I love the name Afton, and I think it totally fits her.  I'm glad I misinterpreted the song... just embarrassed that it took me 13 1/2 years to realize my mistake.

(A funny side note about Afton's name:  she gets a lot of questioning looks from people learning her name for the first time.  Often they think it's a boys name, or that she's saying, Ashton.  But my favorite mistake, is what her bus driver calls her.  ASPRIN!  I can't stop laughing about it.)

8 comments:

Peter and Amber said...

So cute! For the record, I like Afton a lot better than Ashley! :-)

Lindseys said...

I remember thinking the same thing about the name Afton being in that song. I commented on it to you, but later learned that the lyrics are "laughed and...". Funny story about Asprin.

Incidently, mishearing the lyrics of a song actually has a name - Mondegreen. Check out this post about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen

I can think of a few Mondegreens that I have heard, but that is probably a post for another day.

How 'bout Mondegreen for a child's name?

annette said...

I love it! Stef that is a great story, especially coming from one who can quote lyrics and movie lines like nobody's business. I too love the name Afton! Love the expression in the last photo. It goes so well with the punchline in the story. I'm going to have to go listen to the song now. :-)

Eric and Lydia said...

That's an awesome story, and I always love it when other people mis-hear the lyrics to songs. Eric has some really good ones...like "electric boobs" from Benny and the Jets (Elton John).

I have a niece named Afton, it's such a beautiful name (and an even more beautiful girl you have there!)

Shannon B said...

What a cute little baby Asprin (hahahahahah).

I actually don't really know this song (or how the story of how it came to be), am I out of it or what?

I have a HUGE problem of misinterpreting songs. You know "Bachadimino" and you know that song by Pearl Jam "Jeremy" well is says Jeremy spoke in class. I thought is said Jeremy Spokane and I could NOT figure out why he kept saying Spokane!!! oops! FUNNY!

Caroline said...

Remember the song "Amadeus?" Well, Arnell thought it was called "Hot potatoes". How's that for a mondegreen? Too funny about little Aspirin!

Joe and Julie said...

How about "A Pup in the Sky", "Jose, Can You See?" etc. I knew a girl in my ward at BYU in 1958 named Afton Jensen. I love the name of Afton for our wonderfully cute grand-daughter.

Kira said...
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