The Suburbanite
  • FRANK WEAVER, JR: Time for more modegreens

  • Mondegreens or misheard lyrics trace back to a 1954 "Atlantic" article by Sylvia Wright. She misheard the words to a popular Scottish folk ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray." She thought they lyrics were, "They had slain the Earl of Morey, and Lady Mondegreen."

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  • IT'S THAT TIME once again, folks. Time for more mondegreens. As a reminder of what they are, simply put, they're misheard lyrics. The name is traced back to a 1954 "Atlantic" article by Sylvia Wright. As a young lassie, she misheard the words to a popular Scottish folk ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray." She thought they lyrics were, "They had slain the Earl of Morey, and Lady Mondegreen."
    To her chagrin, it wasn't until years later when she learned the correct lyrics were, "They had slain the Earl of Murray, and laid him on the green."
    Over the years Mondegreens have grown. An example is the 1960s folk song, "Blown In The Wind," by Bob Dylan. The correct lyrics, "The answer my friends, is blown in the wind…" are often misheard as, "The ants are my friends, they're blown in the wind…" Just be careful singing it while out on a picnic.
    The lyrics to the opening song in the "Sound of Music" are, "The hills are alive with the sound of music." Many times they've been misheard as "The heels are aligned with a round of music."
    Even patriotic songs aren't free from mondegreens. Our own star spangled banner is one example. The opening lyrics, "O, Say can you see?" are often misheard as, "Jose can you see?" And "…gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there," is often erroneously sung as "…Grapefruit through the night…"
    In the song, "My Country 'Tis of Thee," the words, "Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing," have been misheard as "Sweet land of liberty, of thee icing."
    Take the song "God Bless America." That's one which many would love to see made into our national anthem. The correct words are, "Through the night, with a light from above." More times than naught they have been mistakenly sung as, "Through the night with a light from a bulb." Must've been a bulb from one of those million watt search lights.
    When Jimmy Buffet sings, "Margaritaville," he sings, "Searching for my last shaker of salt." Those lyrics have been misheard as "Searching for my lost singer from Mars." Who knows? Maybe there really are aliens!
    In the traditional song, "Clementine," the actual lyrics, "Oh my darling Clementine" have been misheard as, "Oh my darling lemon pie."
    Tom Petty in "Free Fallin'" sings, "She loved Jesus, and America, too." They have been misheard as, "She loved Cheez-Its, and America too." And Englebert Humperdinck, in his recording of "Release Me," sings, "Please release me, let me go." Its mondegreen is, "Please relieve me, let me go."
    In the song, "Black Velvet," the correct lyrics are, "A new religion that'll bring you to your knees. Black velvet if you please." Believe it or not, these plain lyrics have been misheard as "A new religion that'll bring you to your knees, like Velveeta Cheese."
    Page 2 of 2 - In John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," he sings, "Life ain't nothing but a funny, funny riddle." Those correct lyrics have been misheard as, "Life ain't nothing but a seven dollar fiddle."
    In one of the Rolling Stones' tunes, they sing, "I'll never be your beast of burden." Its mondegreen is, "I'll never leave your pizza burning." And in the song, "Angel of the Morning," Juice Newton sings, "Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby," rather than the often misheard lyrics, "Just brush my teeth before you leave me, baby."
    After hearing this one, I wondered if it might become a political favorite. The actual lyrics to a Grease soundtrack tune is, "Hopelessly devoted to you." Its mondegreen comes out as, "Hope the city voted for you." And Creedence Clearwater Revival asks the musical question, "I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?" not, "I wanna know, have you ever seen Loraine?"
    Recording artist Paul Young sings, "Every time you go away you take a piece of me with you." Many times it's sung as, "Every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you." The Four Seasons have sung "Got a lot of love between us," only to have it misheard as, "Got a lot of lucky peanuts."
    One of ACDC's is a perfect example. They sing the lyrics, "Dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap," not the misheard lyrics, "Dirty deeds and the thunder chiefs."
    Some songs have more than one mondegreen. The correct lyrics, "Takin' Care Of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, have often been misheard as both "Tape it to a biscuit," and "Baking carrot biscuits." And The Beatles’ "Paperback Writer" also stands out for having two different mondegreens. Instead of the lyrics, "Paperback writer," they've been misheard as "Take the back right turn," and "Pay for my Chrysler."
    And while we're on the Beatles, let's not forget a mondegreen to one of their most famous songs, "All My Loving." The correct lyrics to the refrain are, "All my Loving, I will send to you," and not the misheard words, "All my luggage, I will send to you."
    Ray Charles sings, "Unchain my heart," not the mondegreen, "Come shave my heart," and Simon & Garfunkel sing, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair?" and not the misheard lyrics, "Are you going to starve an old friend?"
    And what would a column on mondegreens be without one from Elton John. In his song, "Tiny Dancer," John sings "Hold me closer, tiny dancer, count the headlights on the highway." Many however, seem to favor the mondegreen lyrics, "Hold me closer, Tony Danza, count the head lice on the highway."
    Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com

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