I was thinking the other day about my pal who thought on the song “Desperado” the Eagles sang, “You’ve been outright offensive, for so long now” instead of “You’ve been out riding fences, for so long now.” She made a good case and almost convinced me, arguing that a desperado who was out for so long wouldn’t smell very good.
I know I’m guilty of singing the wrong words — and often the wrong notes — of popular songs, so I thought I’d do some research, defined today as “time I’d like not spent cleaning the house.”
After you read some of these misheard lyrics you might never be able to sing the right words ever again.
This is from the FAQs of The Archive of Misheard Lyrics ….
Q: How did this whole thing come about?
A: The archive started as a spontaneous idea originating out of the Birdhouse Arts Collective in September,1995. The concept was inspired by the mother of a close friend of the founder, who confessed to us that, as a young girl, she had thought that the old church song “A little walk with Jesus” was called “A little chocolate Jesus.” In fact, she never realized her error until she was almost 45 years old.
Q: Is there a technical name for these mishearances?
A: Well, not a technical name as in psychology terminology, but there is an anecdotal name — they’re called mondegreens, and it’s all explained at Mondegreens Ripped My Flesh. [Becky’s note: Read this. It’s funny.]
Jim Coleman offers the following on the subject of mondegreens:
This term was coined when an author was referring to hearing “upon the green” as “mondegreen.” Malachi McCourt, brother of Frank who wrote Angela’s Ashes, titled his autobiography “A Monk’s Swimmin’,” which is how the little Irish boys heard the line from the Ave Maria/Hail Mary “blessed are thou amongst women.”
Historically, mondegreens help to explain the many different lyrics in similar folk songs. In the old Appalachian ballad, Wildwood Flower, one version has the lines “The myrtle so white and its emerald hue, the pale and the leader and islip so blue” while another has “The myrtle so white and its emerald hue, the pale amanita and eyes look so blue.” Amanita is a deadly poisonous mushroom, hardly something for a love lyric.
Sometimes, the mondegreens are intentional. On the John Laroquette show many years ago, there were two cops, one a short woman and the other a rotund middle aged man. The woman once stated that her partner was so food obsessed that he thought the line to the Crystal Gayle song was “Donuts make your brown eyes blue.”
So that’s a little background. Here are some BeckyLand favorites.
Artist Billy Joel
Song You May Be Right
THE MISHEARD: You made the rice, I made the gravy, But it just may be some tuna fish you’re lookin for…
Real Lyric: You may be right, I may be crazy, But it just may be a lunatic you’re lookin for…
Artist Deep Purple
Song Smoke On The Water
THE MISHEARD: Slow motion Walter, the fire engine guy.
Real Lyric: Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Artist The Beatles
THE MISHEARD: Michelle ma belle, some say monkeys play piano well, play piano well.
Real Lyric: Michelle ma belle, sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble, très bien ensemble.
Song Take A Chance On Me
THE MISHEARD: If you change your mind (Jackie Chan) I’m the first in line (Jackie Chan)
Real Lyric: If you change your mind (take a chance) I’m the first in line (take a chance)
Artist Pink Floyd
Song Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
THE MISHEARD: The ducks are hazards in the classroom.
Real Lyric: No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Artist Eddie Money
Song Two Tickets To Paradise
THE MISHEARD: I’ve got flu, rickets, and parasites.
Real Lyric: I’ve got two tickets to paradise.
Artist Bee Gees
Song Stayin’ Alive
THE MISHEARD: Hell, you can tell right away I abuse my rock, I’m a woman, man, go climb the clock…
Real Lyric: Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time for talk…
Artist The Beatles
Song Get Back
THE MISHEARD: Jo Jo was a man before he was a woman.
Real Lyric: Jo Jo was a man who thought he was a loner.
Song Bohemian Rhapsody
THE MISHEARD: Caught in Alaska No escape from reality
Real Lyric: Caught in a landslide No escape from reality
And speaking of Bohemian Rhapsody … a treasure trove …
THE MISHEARD: Mitch Miller, no, he will not let you go.
Real Lyric: Bizmilah! NO! We will not let you go!
THE MISHEARD: Is this the real life or is this just Battersea?
Real Lyric: Is this the real life or is this just fantasy?
THE MISHEARD: Gotta moosh, Gotta moosh Will you do the bannano
Real Lyric: Scaramouche, scaramouche Will you do the fandango
THE MISHEARD: Hit me with the windows, doesn’t really matter to me.
Real Lyric: Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me.
THE MISHEARD: But he has acne all the time…
Real Lyric: Body’s aching all the time…
THE MISHEARD: Spare him his life from his mom’s recipe!
THE MISHEARD: Spare him his life from this one saucy deed.
THE MISHEARD: Spare him his life from his wife’s canopy
THE MISHEARD: Spare him his life and his lone piece of cheese…
THE MISHEARD: Saving his life from his warm sausage tea
Real Lyric: Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
Is this just Battersea? Got any of your own?