We all love to sing along with our favorite songs. We sing in the car, in the shower, and at the karaoke bar. The problem is that half the time we don’t know what we’re singing. We’re making up lyrics as we go along and hoping no one will notice. We presume that our secret is safely buried under the pumping bass coming through the speakers. Or else we’re certain that NO ONE really knows the lyrics, so it’s cool that we’re winging it.
Wrong. Everyone knows. They may not know the exact words, but they know it’s definitely not what you’re singing. In fact, there’s a word for this phenomenon. It’s called “mondegreen,” and it means “the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase, such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song.” (There’s a great website called kissthisguy.com that’s named after the frequently misheard Hendrix song listed below and is dedicated to the cataloging of mondegreens.)
So now that you’ve been outed, here are a few favorite misunderstood lyrics. Who was it that said, “No one pays attention to the lyrics?” Well, here’s the proof.
TOM PETTY: “American Girl”
What people sing: “That Wonderbra that she was gonna keep”
The actual lyric: “She had one little promise she was gonna keep”
This is the second single from Petty’s 1977 debut album. Frankly, Tom mumbles so much when he sings that one could be forgiven for misunderstanding him.
Immortalized by everyone from Wayne & Garth to Mig (from “Rock Star: INXS”), Queen’s 1975 six-minute single is a lesson in rock grandiosity and made-up lyrics. When the band is coming up with words like “Scaramouche,” who can blame someone for writing their own lyrics?
The granddaddy of famous misunderstood songs, this one has been a joke for over 40 years since its 1967 release. Hendrix said the lyrics were inspired by a dream in which he was walking under the sea. Between the crazy dreams and the crazy stuff running through his veins, Jimi himself probably wasn’t sure what he was singing.
What people sing: “Wrapped up like a douche, another loner in the night”
The actual lyric: “Cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night”
Springsteen’s tune from his debut album is full of inside Jersey references and non sequitur silliness. A listener can misinterpret lyrics for days. It’s the ’76 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band cover that’s responsible for the signature mondegreen on this one.
Beck only has himself to blame for going bilingual here. No one was ready for that one in 1994. He started a Spanglish craze.
What people sing: “Where you going with the master plan?”
The actual lyric: “Where ya going with that mask I found?”
Frankly, I like the made-up version better. Stone Temple Pilots could use a little help anyway in the lyric-writing department. There’s some questionable stuff going in their songs, aside from the stolen Zep sounds.
Posted Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:17am PST by GetBack in