Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Friday, April 29, 2005

Famous Misheard Song Lyrics (Otherwise known as Mondegreens)

What is a Mondegreen and where did it come from? Well, according to SNOPES, "the term 'mondegreen' — representing a series of words resulting from the mishearing of a statement or song lyric — is generally attributed to Sylvia Wright, who is credited with coining the neologism in a 1954 Harper's column. Ms. Wright was chagrined to discover that for many years she had misunderstood the last line of the first stanza in the Scottish folk ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray," which reads:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And they laid him on the Green.

Ms. Wright misheard this stanza as:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

From the disappearance of Sylvia Wright's tragic heroine, Lady Mondegreen, came the term for describing unconventional interpretations or understandings of oral repetition, usually in the form of song lyrics."

We've all heard them before, or think we have. Song lyrics that we think say one thing and come to find out YEARS later that we have been singing the WRONG words. Ever wonder how many people laughed behind our backs when they heard it? I fully admit to being a lyric idiot on occasion and have posted some of my own lyrical misunderstandings below.

Some of the most common misheard lyrics have been:

Manfred Mann's Earth Band's, "Blinded By The Light"
Misheard Lyrics:
#1. Blinded by the light,
Wrapped up like a douche another roller in the night
#2. Blinded by the light, racked up like a douche,
another loner in the night
#3. Blinded by the light
Wrapped up like a douche under the cover of the night
Correct Lyrics:
Blinded by the light.
Wrapped up like a deuce, another runner in the night

Who knew? Personally, I always thought it was misheard lyric #3. That is, until I heard it clearly two years ago. In high school I was always a little embarrased to listen to that song, even though I loved it b/c I couldn't IMAGINE anyone talking about douches in music back then. How embarrassing for them to sing about that! Little did I know.

Here are some more famous ones:

Deep Purple "Smoke on the Water"
Misheard Lyrics:
Slow talkin' Walter, fire engine guy
Correct Lyrics:
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky.

Dire Straits', "Money For Nothin'"
(Yes, I thought these were the lyrics. Glad I'm not the only one!)
Misheard Lyrics:
We got some in-store microwave ovens
Got some kitchen delivery
We got some movies, refrigerators
We got some movies, color TV.
Correct Lyrics:
We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen delivery
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these color TVs.

Elton John's, "Tiny Dancer"
Misheard Lyrics:
Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
Correct Lyrics:
Hold me closer, tiny dancer.

Creedence Clearwater Revival's, "Bad Moon Risin'"
Misheard Lyrics:
There's the bathroom on the right.
Correct Lyrics:
There's a bad moon on the rise.

Probably the most famous of the Mondegreens is this one:
Jimi Hendrix's, "Purple Haze"
Misheard Lyrics:
'Scuse me while I kiss this guy
Correct Lyrics:
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Mr. Hendrix was himself aware that he had been Mondegreened, and would occasionally, in performance, actually kiss a guy after saying that line.

Here are some other great, lesser known, Mondegreens over the past decades. You can check out a whole treasure trove of them at the Am I Right web site. THOUSANDS of misheard lyrics are waiting for you to laugh at them!

Tokens, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
Misheard Lyrics:
A weenie wack a weenie wack a weenie wack...
Correct Lyrics:
A-wimoweh, A-wimoweh, A-wimoweh...
(Sounds kinda painful to me!)

Louis Armstrong's, "What a Wonderful World"
Misheard Lyrics:
The bride blessed the day and the dogs say "Good Night."
Correct Lyrics:
The bright blessed day and the dark sacred night

AC/DC's, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Misheard Lyrics:
Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chief
Dirty deeds and they're done to sheep.
Correct Lyrics:
Dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap.
(Must have gone to Texas A&M [wicked wink])

Dobie Gray's, "Drift Away"
Misheard Lyrics:
Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul.
Correct Lyrics:
Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul.

Madonna's "La Isla Bonita"
Misheard Lyrics:
Last night I dreamt of some bagels.
Correct Lyrics:
Last night I dreamt of San Pedro.

Johnny Rivers', "Secret Agent Man"
Misheard Lyrics:
Secret Asian man
Secret Asian man
Correct Lyrics:
Secret agent man
Secret agent man.

Jewel's, "Who Will Save Your Soul?"
Misheard Lyrics:
Who will shave your mole?
Correct Lyrics:
Who will save your soul?
(This one probably came from Larry the Cable Guy)

The Monkees', "I'm a Believer"
Misheard Lyrics:
Then I saw her face.
Now I'm gonna leave her
Correct Lyrics:
Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer

Sting's, "Fields of Gold"
Misheard Lyrics:
Among the fields of holly?
Correct Lyrics:
Among the fields of barley?
Misheard Lyrics:
I swear in the mist when you left
We walked in fields of gold
Correct Lyrics:
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
(Yes, both of these are my own mishearings. So sad b/c this is in my top 3 for favorite songs of all time.)

And with this last stop on the musical misinterpretations tour, I am downright embarrassed to say that this was my most frequently minsunderstood lyric. I loved this song for years and I mis-sang it for years too. Hey, it was U2, their lyrics can be odd at times so I saw nothing wrong with what I was singing. Nobody ever corrected me, even though they gave me some strange looks when I would sing these lines. Cowards! So here it is from my own humiliating personal experience:

U2's, "With or Without You"
Misheard Lyrics:
See the storm set in your thighs,
See the phone twist and your sigh
I wait for you.
Sleight of hand and twist of fate,
On a bed of meals she makes me wait
And I wait without you
Correct Lyrics:
See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I'll wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you

So there they are. Go check out some more on your own at Am I Right. I might post some more amusing ones in the future. It really is funny what our ears hear in lyrics instead of what is actually said. A lot like life in that regard. Advice for the day: Really listen to what the other person is saying to you, not just their words but their tone. Otherwise you just might miss the point entirely and hear someone want to kiss a guy instead of kiss the sky.


Christine Keach said...

Girl, you DEFINITELY have too much time on your hands!!! LOL! Get busy writing!

Nic said...

HAHAHA! You are so right. I have been working, but play is also good! LOL.

Bill said...

I had no idea there were so many!

Thanks for a read that made me smile... many times!