MONDEGREENS mon•de•green(n) : a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung
When I was a kid, I was seriously puzzled by the lyrics in certain pop hits. They didn’t make sense or it was a kind of sense that only teenagers and adults could understand.
Of course, I never actually asked a teenager or an adult what the lyrics meant. As with many things in my childhood, like gravity or how Ajax got stains out of sinks, I chalked it up to one of the mysteries of life.
“My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”
I heard the Scottish folk song as ‘my body lies’… and found it mystifying. Are you floating above the ocean or in it? Face-up or the dead man float? Are you covering the whole ocean? How big is this body, anyway?
Below are a few more auditory befuddlements. Got any of your own?
BEATLES: “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”
To me, it sounded like the Beatles were singing, ‘Hey boy, you’ve got your heiny in the way…’
I was shocked they were allowed to say heiny on the radio.
THE BUCKINGHAMS: “Kind Of A Drag”
I thought this song was an extended Canada Dry ginger ale commercial and they were singing “Canada Dry – when your baby don’t love you. Canada Dry – when you know she’s been untrue.”
Because just like your Mom gives you a ginger ale when your stomach’s upset, drinking one when you’re emotionally upset would make you feel better, too.
MONKEES: “Cheer Up Sleepy Jean”
Sounded like they were singing, “My shaving razor’s cold and it stinks.”
Men’s toiletries were a mystery to me but ‘stings’ makes more sense.
MANFRED MANN: “Do I Diddy”
In the bridge, the singer says, “Well, I’m hers, she’s mine. I’m hers, she’s mine, wedding bells are gonna chime.”
I thought he was saying, “Well, I’m hurt, she’s mad…” and I wondered, If he’s hurt and she’s mad, why are wedding bells gonna chime?
I figured since grownups fight after they’re married, they probably didn’t see fighting as a reason not to get married in the first place.
Speaking of Manfred Mann, in their song, “Blinded By The Light”, the lyrics are:
‘Revved up like a deuce,
Another runner in the night’
I thought they were saying:
‘Wrapped up like a douche,
Another mother in the night’
Makes absolutely no sense, I know.
ELTON JOHN: “Rocket Man”
Molly Bloom from the Bay Area writes:
“I used to think Elton John was singing, ‘Rocket Man, burning like a piece of hairy bone.’” Burning hairy bone – god, what an awful smell.
PRINCE: “Little Red Corvette”
I heard the title line as ‘Feel that, Colette?’ I have three brothers and I could imagine someone’s annoying brother pinching his sister over and over while saying, “Feel that? How about that?”, along the lines of the dreaded ‘Hurtz Donut.’ When I grew older I heard the mondegreen in a more, um, adult situation.
Gaily The Cross I Bear
Christian E. from Toronto reports that when he heard this song in church as “Gaily The Cross-Eyed Bear”, he asked his mother why they would call a cross-eyed bear Gaily.
JIMI HENDRIX: “Purple Haze”
This is a common misheard lyric. When Jimi says, “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky”, I thought he was saying ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy.’
Not knowing much about sex, and never having heard of homosexuality, I found this puzzling indeed.
ROLLING STONES: “Beast Of Burden”
My brother Dave, in upstate New York, thought that Mick Jagger was promising he would never be your ‘pizza burning’.
Do you have any misheard lyrics?
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Once again another great entry. I actually have a few things to ask you, would be have some time to answer them?
Yes, happy to answer questions. You can contact me at: AnneFarnsworthJazz[at]gmail.com
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