When Your Eyes or Ears Lie to You


This is not some great philosophical post.  I spent yesterday cleaning and I get a little loopy when I’m on my feet and carrying things for an entire day.

Unfortunately not quite done, and need to finish this morning, so I can catch up on the work for pj (and fiction) this afternoon.  Yes, my life is so exciting I clean house on my day off.  Actually I don’t mind it, as it’s exercise and it allows me to listen to audio books.  Not to say it won’t change in future when our sons fly solo monetarily.  I’d much rather pay someone to do the cruddy work and get my exercise by going for a nice stroll with my husband.  But for now, it is what it is and the time I “take off” to clean has to be paid for with extra work.

Anyway when I was really loopy yesterday I read a label on a bottle three times, because I wanted to know why the manufacturer was bragging about being able to spray angels.  Then I realized it actually said “Sprays at all angles.”

When this happens with songs, it has a name, Mondegreens.  It comes from mishearing “and they laid him on the green” as “And the Lady Mondegreen.”

The other famous one is for Silent Night with “Round The Young Virgin” becomes “Round John Virgin” confusing kids as to why his last name is Virgin.

My own personal best was with Five For Fighting Superman (Which makes me sputter almost as much as the despicable Imagine) “I’m only a man in a funny red sheet” became for me “I’m just a man consorting with sheep.”  And until I one day was really miffed and started expounding to Dan on the inappropriateness of the stupid lyric I didn’t realize I’d misheard it.

Yes, Dan laughed.  Yes, in our house that song is now known as the “consorting with sheep” song.

So, it’s Friday, I have a ton of stuff to do and I need some amusement.  What is your favorite Mondegreen, either committed by you or someone else?  Come on, don’t be shy.  Nothing can be much worse than consorting with sheep!

303 thoughts on “When Your Eyes or Ears Lie to You

  1. In Big Yellow Taxi, for years I was convinced that the line was, “They paved paradise and put up a f*cking lie,” not “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Could not for the life of me how the song got uncensored airtime on family-friendly radio stations.

      1. If anybody is wondering why the response— imagine you’re from a medical family.

        And there’s a song that goes:
        Doctor, doctor, put away your vaccine!
        I don’t care about sneezes,
        Don’t edit in an autism gene!

        Maybe with some talk about how hand washing and avoiding cross-contamination is horrible and fake, too.

      2. I was a teenager before I realized the line in “America” was not “through the night with the light from a bulb”

    1. “Bingo Jed had a light on” instead of “Big old Jet Airliner”
      “pregnant women, sick of swimmin'” instead of “bright young women…” -Part of your world

  2. It makes sense that yesterday was an interesting day for you. In the Truth thread, as you recall, there was a troll infestation. I wondered why you were saying ‘Galaxy Jane’.

    Was brainstorming the other day, wrote down stargate universe and stargate infinity, somehow managed to misread them as stargate university.

    1. Was I being taken in vain?

      I read a sign yesterday advertising a “chicken supper” which I misread as “Super Chicken” which immediately prompted youngest son to start clucking the John Williams “superman” theme.

        1. The troll poster was using the handle jaynsand, and an avatar taken from some painting. My feeling is that the Jane in both handles, and the arty avatars caused confusion when it came to writing things down. I think that might be different from a Mondegreen.

          I recently cleared up some confusion with some papers I was rereading again. The first time, apparently, I’d through some manner of confusion managed to misread ‘force sensor’ as ‘accelerometer’. It is embarrassing how long I took to figure that out.

          1. I just went back and read the thread, I had last checked in at under 50 comments, so had missed all the rest. But I see that Sarah was definitely a bit confused (easy enough, I don’t de-lurk that regularly). Pretty sure that “progressive” would be the last word folks familiar with me in RL would use, also I’m definitely American.

        1. It looks like “Jaysand” is a 770 regular and one of Cammy’s commenters.

          Shocking, I know.

          1. And now she is lurking over at my (completely neglected and non-updated in probably more than a year because *one day* I will start writing again) blog. I am more than a little creeped out now.

        1. Yep, that was the one I was thinking of, but it’s before youngest son’s time.

          I was also quite the fan of The Adventures of Chicken Man (He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!) back when it was on AFN Radio.

            1. It was Germany for me. 20 years later I got re-aquainted on deployment and all I can say is that AFN Radio is as suckingly bland as ever, but AFN TV is way less charmingly weird/bad these days now that they have multiple channels and are pretending to be cable.

          1. When I was a kid, the local radio station (WFNN Fun 104 FM in Escanaba) started carrying Chicken Man and my folks had their alarm clock (an old flap wheel readout kind) set to “Wake To Music”
            every weekday morning:
            **light click**
            minute later
            **LOUD CLICK** (the alarm minute roll over had a lot of energy)
            “Chicken Man!!! (He’s everywhere, He’s everywhere!)”
            loved his phone calls to Mom
            “Hi Mom. It’s your son. Your son, Benton.”

  3. The Beatles and Paul McCartney had “Michelle,” “Michelle, ma belle, Sunday monkey won’t play piano song, play piano song.”

    And there was Jimmy Hendrix, “‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.”

    And I forget who did “The Safety Dance” song, “We wear pants if want to, or, we leave our pants behind, ‘cuz if we wear pants then we wear pants and they’re no pants of mine. Safety pants, safety pants, everybody look at your pants.”

    1. The Hendrix one is the only one I can consistently remember, and that’s probably only because I know the actual lyric is “‘Scuse me, while I kiss the sky”, and it reminds me of the Star Trek TOS episode, “For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky”.

      Then there is Taylor Swift, “Starbucks Lovers”

        1. I finally had to look up the lyrics, because it made so little sense in the context of the rest that it made me crazy the song was playing 2-3 times a day.

        2. I’ve only seen her sing on tv 3 times. Jools Holland (2 times), and maybe SNL or some other show my relatives were watching
          decent looking girl
          sang off key all three times.
          I don’t have perfect, perfect pitch, but I couldn’t stand to hear her sing because of it. Walked out at my Sisters place, and muted the Later/Jools show as I was alone at home.

          1. She sure took to the Diva Drama pretty quick.
            I’m half expecting her and the others to start shooting each other ala the East/West Biggie/Tupac fights of the 90’s.

            1. Really?
              Can’t say I pay any attention at all to any of that malarkey, so . . .
              I can usually listen to about anything musical (and rap ain’t music) if it last a short enough time, but her singing those times was intolerable. I’ve suffered her songs other times and either autotune or she was on key so not so bad . . . just the standard crap pop wannabe junk.
              There is very little I find like that, and only a few artists I refuse to listen to. Radio Paradise has a neat PSD button (Play Something Different) and when Franti or the Rare Madonna come on, PSD (or at work it is via Cache, so skip to the next tune please).
              I also often watch the worldwide “Best Auditions For The Voice” stuff, and geesopete! Most of the better people there cover the songs far, far better than the originals. Disappoints me it is only a 2 minute cover.

        1. Thanks, Men W/O Hats! I should have remembered because we started calling them Men W/O Pants. Sort of the Folsom Street Faire of rock bands.

    2. > “The Safety Dance” song,

      Men without hats.

      Which is ironic, given what you heard.

  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one who find “Imagine” despicable.
    Mine is from Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” The claim is that line says, “Please, hey, would we care to all get in line.”
    I *still* maintain it says, “Please, hey, Whoopie Cat, get in line.”

      1. I loathe the song myself. All else aside, how does something containing phrasing like “and no religion, too” come to be venerated as a masterpiece of lyricism.

        Yeah, I know the answer. But STILL.

          1. The very worst: a beautiful, haunting, memorable song–wth lyrics that turn your stomach. Cognitive *and* aesthetic dissonance.

            1. It’s definitely one of those songs that would be better if you didn’t speak the language.

              I suspect the Tunuk Tunuk song is similar. (I know one of the lyrics is something about my heart is a little bird, but to me is the Draenei dance song.)

        1. Remember that he thinks it much easier to imagine a world without religion than one without money, and assumes we all do, too.

      2. I remember arguing with my Dad about Yellow Submarine. It was catchy, sure, but even as a metaphor it made no sense to me (also ‘I don’t want to be in a submarine with these idiots’ was never an ‘option’.)

        I also hated ‘Imagine’ as pure bullshit.

    1. I also have Zeppelin song, when I was teenager I thought “and as we wind on down the road” in Stairway was “and there’s a wino down road”.

    2. Oh, there are swaths of popular songs that I consider loathsome.

      Love The One You’re With;

      “There’s a girl right next to you,
      Amd she’s just waiting for something to do”

      I’ve never had much patience with the Andrea Dworkin ‘all heterosexual copulation is rape’ feminists, but that song does make me sympathize with them a little.

      Or the “You’re nice, girl, but now that I’ve had you I’m gonna get on down the road after singing four verses of smarmy justification” genera.


      Or “I’m going to prove my bravery and coolness by singing about racist behavior that happened before I was born”.


      1. @cspschofield

        Off topic, but I have a question for you. A couple of weeks ago you referred to a “Helm’s Law” (“If you push enough people around long enough sooner or later you end up facing an angry man with a gun.”) I’ve been trying to find the source of this via Google and haven’t succeeded. I’ve found old references To a Helm’s Law #1 (“people are stupid”) and #2 (“people are evil”), but that’s as close as I’ve come.

        Who is Helm, and where did he write about this?

        1. Sounds like something out of one of Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm novels. In “The Intriguers”, written about the time of Kent State, some of the parents figured their proper reaction was revenge…

            1. I hope Hamilton got plenty of money for that.

              Back before personal computers, I wrote a screenplay for “Death of a Citizen” on lined notebook paper…

      2. Or “I’m going to prove my bravery and coolness by singing about racist behavior that happened before I was born”.
        I heard Mr. Young sing about her
        I heard old Neil put her down
        But I hope Neil Young will remember
        A Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow.

      3. Similar to the second one, “sleep with me, you gotta sleep with me, because you need to sleep with me, you get to sleep with me if you sleep with me!”

        1. If that was said to me and wasn’t a song lyric, I’d kick him in the balls. Just because you’re horny is no reason for me to screw you.

    3. I had a co-worker back in ’86 who always sang “Whoopie Cat” because he was a crazy cat guy. (had 6 or them at the time)
      SO I hear it as Whoopie Cat as well and never paid it much attention.

        1. On the redneck side:

          12 pack of bud, 11 wrestlin’ tickets
          Tin a’ copenhagen, 9 years probation
          8 table dancers, 7 packs of redman
          6 cans of spam, 5 flannel shirts
          4 big mud tires, 3 shot gun shells
          2 huntin’ dogs and some parts to a Mustang GT

          h/t Jeff Foxworthy

    1. My dad has a really old jazz choir recording that starts out with “Mary’s boychild, Jesus Christ …” When I was little, I thought it was “Mary’s porkchop”

  5. Of course, “Inna Godda Davita” supposedly was originally, “In the Garden of Eden”.

    Now, my eyes lie to me in the store. I can go in and look for something, and quite literally look directly at what I’m looking for, and not see it. It took a long time to convince myself that I had, indeed, looked at the item and not realized it was what I was looking for.

  6. Try again for “Silent Night”. 🙂 The line is: “Round yon Virgin Mother and Child”.

    So does that make it a meta-Mondegreen for you?

      1. We learned some Christmas carols (probably “Oh Christmas Tree,” maybe “Silent Night”) and “My Hat it Has Three Corners” in German in private school; I really only sort of remember “Mine hoot it has three corners, three corners has miene hoot.”

        1. Oh, yeah. Mein Hut Er Hat Drei Ecken. Sang it many times in 2nd grade German class as a pronunciation drill; you’d sing it using different vowel sounds (mün hüt ür hüt drü ückün, etc.).

          And there was the one about three Chinese folks with a cello (drei Sinese mit dem kontrabass / sassen in den strassen and that’s about all I remember).

  7. I don’t usually have it happen with lyrics, but Elf is very use to me doing a double-take and then breaking into whoops of laughter because I misread something.

    1. I, to a small extent, but my mother more so, will occasionally be reading and out of the corner of my eye will see a word that seems odd further down the page only find out that there is no such word on the page at all. It’s just something my brain pulls together out of thin air.

      1. As my eyes recovered from the medical hooraw, I found my brain tried to come up with a word, regardless of what my eyes made out. Fine print on OTC medications was interesting. “Wait, that word has nothing to do with medication. Start again.”

  8. My sister: Dirty jeans and the Thunder Chief.

    And I had the worst time trying to search for a song with the repeated lyric “singing women”… which is apparently Dream On and “sing it with me.”

    1. For ages I thought the Dream On lyric was “sing for the left and sing for the tears” instead of sing for the laughter, sing for the tear”.

    2. Thanks to a NCO I served with in my Army days, I can never listen to AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” without hearing “Dirty Deeds Done With Sheep.” Baaaa.

  9. > misheard

    Debatable. If so many performers didn’t sing like they had a mouthful of marbles, people wouldn’t “mishear” their mumbling.

    A lot of stores around here play the whiny-tweener-girl Muzak channel. Most of the songs are completely unintelligible. “Muh – fuh – boo – fuh – awaaa – ooo.” At best, it sounds like they just walked out of the dentist’s office after major work involving anesthesia…

    1. I always was partial to Dio, who annunciates clearly so that there’s never any doubt what he’s saying. There’s absolutely no doubt that he just said, “Ride the tiger, you can see his stripes but you know he’s clean.” Now, why he just said that is another question entirely, but the words themselves are perfectly clear.

      1. The song is titled “Holy Diver”. So, you know what you’re getting into with “sense” in the lyrics.

      2. Ozzy has brain damage and a speech defect now, but he still sings in clearly enunciated English.

        Of course, back in the day he got sued over a “misheard lyric”, so he probably has more reason to be clear than most.

    2. As often happens with Weird Al songs, I heard his parody before I ever heard the original. So when he wrote “Smells like Nirvana” and included the words, “It’s hard to bargle nawdle zouss / With all these marbles in my mouth”, I didn’t know precisely how much Nirvana deserved that dig.

      I just now watched (for the first time) a few minutes of the official music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Oh my goodness, did they ever deserve Weird Al’s “marbles in my mouth” dig! I just can’t put it better than he did:

      Sing disctinctly,
      We don’ wanna!
      Buy our album,
      We’re Nirvana!

  10. “WE didn’t start the fire” has a lyric that was apparently supposed to be “Space monkey, Mafia.”

    What they sing is “Space monkey Mafia, hula hoops, Castro…..”

    In context:
    Lebanon, Charlse de Gaulle, California baseball
    Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

    Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
    Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

    U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
    Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

    And, honestly, I didn’t know that there was a comma for “Starkweather homicide” either– I assumed the name was a famous victim.

        1. It even inspired a movie with a couple of young, up-and=coming actors …

          I wonder whatever happened to them?

      1. Murderpeida had a page on him; is how I figured out what it was about.


        Right up there with neither knowing nor caring who Charles Manson is– or failure to recognize on sight any dozens of other famous murderers, even if they did make a big impression on folks generations ago.

        Song is impressive because he got so much stuff to stick together, anyways.


        Texted my mom the other day because I was listening to a song, singing along, and it talked about “my generation”– it was sung by folks from the generation before her, for those who were teens when she was a toddler, and kids born a half century later will sing along with it.
        Amused the heck out of me, kind of like when our minivan would cruise down the road playing heavy metal.

        1. Mopre amusing: seen in my neighborhood back in L.A.- little minivan with a little stick family in one corner, cutesy names on everyone… and a sicker for Cannibal Corpse in the other corner.

          1. “Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac…”

            – Don Henley, “The Boys of Summer”

            1. I never think about it when i HEAR that line, but now that I READ it, I remember a boss I had years ago talking about some guys he knew, who were going to a Hendrix concert, who he said had put shark fins on their Porsche and Mercedes.

    1. ….I heard it as “Stop with the homicide” so I kinda missed that one completely.

  11. You Tube Misheard Lyrics leads you to some hilarious songs.

    O Fortuna => O For Tuna; with lines like ‘dog with fleas.’

    I’m Blue => Da Ba Dee Da Ba Die becomes ‘I think I’m a guy,’ ‘I think I’m a fry,’ ‘I think I will die,’ and others.

    My first experience was a friend who heard ‘my eyes of Georgia,’ in place of ‘my eyes adored you.’

    1. Well it kind of makes sense for O Fortuna from Camina Burana. It’s in medieval Latin. and most people perform it at such a pace that it tends to all blend together. That and Mr. Orff’s placing the accent on some odd syllables really makes it just flat voweled mush.

      1. I heard it as (still in Latin) O Fortuna, velunt luna, status admirabilis. Yeah, nerds are going to nerd.

    2. I heard “my eyes adored you” that way too when I was a little girl. Possibly because I was a little girl in Atlanta. 🙂

      1. Then there is the guy who used to go to strip clubs and imagine the dancers clothed: My eyes adorned you.

    3. My first experience was a friend who heard ‘my eyes of Georgia,’ in place of ‘my eyes adored you.’

      When dad retired from the Army, we wound up in a small town in Utah that only had a country music radio station. One day the DJ went on a rant about the folks that would call up and ask him to play “Liza Georgia”.

  12. “The ants are my friends, is blowing in the wind,” which is an egregious grammatical error until you realize it’s, “The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.” I kind of like thinking that the ants are my friends, though.

    And from CCR…
    “Theeere’s a bathroom on the right,” instead of, “Theeere’s a bad moon on the rise.”

    Sticking with CCR, I didn’t mishear, but simply could never understand any of the lyrics to “Down on the Corner” until one day when for some reason every word was crystal clear.

  13. In Jimmy Eat World’s hit “The Middle,” for the longest time I thought the bridge was “it just takes some time, little girl, … Elephant, Elephant will be all right. Elephant, elephant will be just fine.”

    My husband and I still laugh about that one.

  14. *clears his throat

    “Therrre’s a bathroom on the right…”

    thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week, try the veal!

    1. For the Mormons out there, father a friend of mine (who was Branch President at the time) popped out with this one day:

      Come, come ye saints
      No toilet paper here
      But, with joy, wend your way…

      Changes the entire meaning of the song. He may also have been the one that taught us the variant of the 13th article of faith that involves being chased by an elephant.

      1. To boys required to memorize “We believe in being …chaste, benevolent…”, my teacher found the “chased by an elephant” to be a humorous mnemonic that avoided difficult explanations of what “chaste” meant.

  15. NOT being tuned in to the drug culture, I never understood how anyone could misunderstand, “25 or 6 to Four”. The rest of the lyrics clearly indicate that he’s looking down the hall at a clock that is in a dark enough spot that he can’t tell exactly what time it is, so it’s 25 or 26 minutes till 4:00.

    Not “25 or 624”, which people seem to think is a reference to drugs.

    1. Forget the lyrics- it’s one of the great guitar solos ever.
      TK is still missed.

  16. For some reason the word maneater in this lyric
    Watch out boy she’ll chew you up
    (Oh here she comes)
    She’s a maneater

    From Hall& Oates Maneater sounded like band leader to me.I could not for the life of me figure out what was so bad about band leaders.

    1. Clearly, you were never in high school band. The leaders could be absolute tyrants over their little fifedoms.

  17. Pretty little thing let me light your candle
    ‘Cause mama I’m so hard to handle now
    Yes, I am

    Was to me
    Pretty little thing let me light your candle
    Mamashuma nahanmenuh

    First time I ever saw the actual lyrics, I said, “No, I think y’all are making that up.” Then I listened really intently in an otherwise quiet environment, and could just make out the words. Then said, “Well, you’d be more understandable if you weren’t drunk with a mouth full of marbles.”

  18. As to the picture above. Anyone else not yet fully indoctrinated into seeing “#” as “hashtag”? Still ‘hearing’ it as the symbol for “lb.”?
    Because my very first impression of that moniker for the recent movement was “Are you sure that’s REALLY what you want to say?!”

    1. Nope. I see it as “pound me too”. Old enough to even use “pound” instead of “hash” for Unix/Linux command usage. Probably it’s a good thing Twitter didn’t use the “!” because then it would be “bang me too” which I think is the opposite of what they wanted.

      1. Yes, and it’s pretty silly. Also fun to mess with kids. “Read me the shoping list, please?”
        “Fifty hashtag W slash W? Mom, what?”
        “Do you even English?” (This is #1 son’s line. I love turning it around on him.)

        50# w/w is, of course, a bag of whole wheat flour. Which is both a special order and about six weeks worth.

          1. Ten people, all bread home made. Two loaves a day, minimum. Two of them are teen males, one of those is a ballet dancer and eats his own mass in calories and burns them every day-or it sure seems that way!

            1. 2 parents and 8 kids? Or is the ratio different. Me and my husband 2 people in their late 50s. that’s why I goggled. We don’t much cooking.

              1. Bread is easy. Bake my own as well. Currently one loaf or so a week for the Squire and I. Been doing it for a few years now and been mixing it by hand. A stand mixer with kneading hook makes things easier though. Depending on the environment and temperatures it takes about five hours for me to go from mixing to baked. Due to the rising parts.

                1. Ah. I don’t think my stand mixer has the dough hook. =/ And it’s fairly old, being 8 years old now, and I’m not sure I could get the dough hook attachment. Maybe I could… Maybe.

                  Am thinking someday I’ll get a new one.

                  1. I do mine by hand. Mixing the dough and kneading it takes me about 15 minutes top. Depending on how warm things are first rise takes two hours. Punch down put in loaf pan and let it rise some more. Baking takes about 45 minutes. If you want I can dig up the link to instructions and recipe I mostly follow if you want.

                    1. Shadow, One thing I have not seen in bread recipes, that I didn’t know, but makes a difference to the end product:

                      The dough should be slightly sticky when it’s ready. I made this mistake for a long time. If the dough is not sticky at all, it’s too dry. If it gets too dry, wet your hands and shake the water on the dough, wet them again, and knead the water in (it doesn’t take much water at all to make a difference). If you can press your fingers into the dough for about a half second and pull them away clean, but sticks to them if you press longer, it’s about right. If it sticks that quickly, add a little flour.

                    2. I’ve tried the 5 minute artisan bread thing, but I can’t do that as much as I’d like because of the necessity of keeping a plastic bucket of dough in a fridge, and I only have one this time. (This would have been feasible in Townsville, as I had two fridges there; not so much where I live now. Smaller house.) The bread turned out with a very lovely sourdough taste.

                      I’ll give this a go.

                    3. The 5 minute artisan bread simply isn’t as good as the real thing. It isn’t fresh enough if you don’t grind the artisan yourself.

                    4. Sourdough is also easy, but it takes a lot longer, especially if you don’t keep a sourdough starter jar going:

                      With starter, you can skip the first part:

                      Take a cup of flour and a cup of water and mix together in a bowl, place a dish towel over the top of the bowl, and leave it on the counter for a few days, until there is a thick froth on top. This will be your starter, and will contain all the yeast you need.

                      Mix the dough as per instructions, except reduce the water by about 3/4 cup (it’s in the starter), and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar.

                      Next difference: Instead of rising taking 45 minutes to an hour, it will take 10-14 hours each time. Cook using the same directions.

                  2. Try secondhand stores.

                    *ahahahhahahah*, eight years?!?
                    Got my grandma’s stand mixer. It might be older than my dad.
                    See if any second-hand stores have KitchenAid type attachments, some of them work…..

        1. LOL – I love this blog. A snarky comment about “#metoo” turned into 22 comments (as of now) on baking bread! Heh.

          1. Right? And then idiots mine it and sift it to fit their narrative.
            You can find ANYTHING here, no matter what the topic is supposed to be. At one time we had a long discussion on lapidary and d*mned if I remember what the post is, but I guarantee it had zero to do with it.

    2. A friend said her greatest achievement in her xoding class was getting everyone, including the teacher, to call the # an octothorpe.

    1. It was rightly selected to play over the end credits to “The Killing Fields”.
      I wonder if it was an unintentional irony, or a deliberate comment.

  19. I’ve encountered a fellow who was stunned that “Rock The Casbah” was played on the air, and evcen in a supermarket. Evidently he did not hear “Rock The Casbah” but “F— the Dance Floor.”

    I’ve heard “Dust Devil in the Freezer” which is supposedly really “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” (and I’m not the only one. I found the real lyrics by looking up what I ‘heard’.)

    1. THAT (“Rock the Casbah”) is the one I’ve been trying to think of for the last fifty or so comments!

      I hear the same thing – and will never hear anything else, I am afraid, after it being every third song on the radio when I was imprisoned in a college dorm room. Are you sure we’ve never met?

        1. Well, if I were still 19 (dang it, I’m not), I likely would be diagnosed as such. Thank goodness I was growing up in a time when there wasn’t a diagnosis for every little deviation from “the average.”

    2. There’s one where they really need to annunciate more clearly. I know that the lyrics in the chorus are “Rock the Casbah” only because that’s what the song is called. Otherwise, I don’t think anyone could prove it wasn’t “F– the Dance Floor,” or what I’ve always thought, “Rob the cashbox.”

      Then again, perhaps given the opinions of certain members of a religion of peace, it may be for the best that it’s hard to prove what those lyrics are.

    3. > Rock the Casbah

      Supposedly the first song played by the Armed Forces Radio Network after they set up during Desert Storm…

      1. EXACTLY! My Dad died just before. April of ’91. Gen Schwarzkopf died recently.

  20. Did you know the Gilligan’s Island theme can be sung to the tune of “Stairway To Heaven”? Heard it on Dr. Demento’s show years ago.
    I’ve also heard the Stairway music done as Muzak; took me a while to recognize it.

    1. Someone did a Muzak version of Devo’s greats.

      Gates of Steel … Muzakked. ……wow.

    2. Amazing Grace can be performed to the tune of Gilligan’s Island theme song. It’s a bit faster and more fun to sing that way.

      1. I like Caedete Eos sung to Felis Navidad.

        Caedete Eos. Caedete Eos.

        Caedete Eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

        You’ve got to kill them all. You’ve got to kill them all.
        You’ve got to kill them all, and let God sort them out!

        To Silver Bells: Burn and kill. Burn and kill. The more you burn and kill, the better you please me.

      2. Try it to “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” I nearly got lynched for that one once.

        Especially when I swung into the chorus:

        He’s the Real Thing!
        He’s the way He should b-e-e-e!
        (Jesus Christ His Son!)
        What the world needs to s-e-e-e!
        (With the Ho-o-ly Gho-ost!)
        He’s the Real Thing!
        (God Almighty!)
        He’s the Real Thing!
        (Let’s hear it for God!)

        [Both I and the building survived. His mercy endureth forever…]

          1. Well, it did get the guy who was singing it to “The House of the Rising Sun” to shut up.

    3. You can really mess with people’s heads by singing Christmas carols to another carol’s tune. I’ve also done that with some Gilbert & Sullivan songs, to other people in the company that does light opera (which is mostly G&S).

      1. Never, ever- ever NEVER– sing the Marine Hymn to the tune of My Darling Clementine within earshot of a Marine. The words do, by the way, fit the tune perfectly.

            1. Oooh, you tempt me, with a Marine son in the house. One where we each constantly try our best to get a rise out of the other.

              OST, I shall not take the chance. Curb stomping for Hymn desecration just might be one of those muscle memory things they trained into him as a boot…

          1. It seems to me I have heard that almost all songs can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose Of Texas.

        1. I’m a Marine and I would find it funny. Although, I would find it even funnier if you actually knew all the words (so few people do, not sure if I could remember them myself, but I left active duty over 20 years ago).

          However, as you’ve noted, there are Marines out there who… lets just say… “take stuff a little too seriously”. So you might want to KNOW the Marine – and how he or she might react – before trying it.

      2. Several of our regularly sung hymns at church are sung to the same tunes as some Christmas carols. For those songs I find you REALLY need to watch the lyrics and pay attention, or you (me) will be singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” while everyone else is singing something else entirely.

    4. “Stairway to Gilligan’s Island”. The band that did it, Little Roger and the Goosebumps released it in ’78, and then Led Zep’s lawyers went ballistic and made them recall the song. According to the Wikis, it got re-issued in 2000 without legal threats. (Robert Plant preferred it over other cover versions, it seems.)

  21. Songs like Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover, The Minstrel Boy, or And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda are perhaps possible for me to figure out the lyrics on first listening.

    When first listening to a lot of songs, the words are just noise, another instrument that doesn’t convey any literal meaning. Some number of listens later, “Hey, there are words in this”. Eventually I may eventually piece together enough to figure out what it is that they are talking about.

    1. I’ve been playing the Show Boat CD in the car, and I’ve figured out that female chorus songs are quite difficult for my substandard hearing to decipher.

      I just ripped all my CDs to MP3s, and I’m not entirely disappointed that Einstein on the Beach is unreadable by my computer’s drive. Not sure why I ever got that…

  22. The Kid, aged 3, heard Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and spent the rest of the afternoon chirping “…a melody pure and clean, singing ‘this does not make sense to you-oo’.”

    I couldn’t disagree.

  23. I knew it couldn’t be right, but in the Clash’s Rock the Casbah, I heard, “Velveeta took me higher” instead of the “the Shariff won’t like it.” Of course I still sing it that way; it’s much more fun.

    1. My wife got in trouble at work for absently singing AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. That’s what she *thought* she was singing, but she didn’t realize it was actually Bob Rivers’ “Dirty Deeds Done With Sheep…”

  24. I get a little loopy when I’m on my feet and carrying things for an entire day.

    I should think you would. When you pick things up you need to find a new place to put them, not carry them around with you.

    N.B. – we’ve had out internet out and are just getting things back in order, so this is as witty a “log on” as I can manage. I will return with bad puns and malapropisms later in the day.

  25. i fondly recall singing this in Sunday School:

    ..we shall come rejoicing bringing in the cheese

    1. Blessed are the cheesemakers…

      okay, so it’s from a movie and not a song…

      1. “Blessed are the cheesemakers…”
        Hey, not just the cheesemakers, but any manufacturer of dairy products.

  26. Apart that Taylor Swift one I don’t have any personal examples in English, due to the fact that while I can understand English well enough most times I don’t automatically listen to the meaning like I do with Finnish, I can just leave the singer as kind of one part of the instruments, human making sounds. With Finnish I can’t ignore them even if I want to.

    Differences between your mother language and your second language?

    And of course I mostly just read and write English, I don’t speak it daily. As far as I remember those times I have used mostly or only English daily I started to lose that ability to ignore the meaning of the words in lyrics when I listened to songs (three three month periods now nearly 30 years ago, I worked one summer in Ontario and had an American co-worker in Finland during two summers, and because of her we all – three summer assistants, the American, me and one Finnish guy, and our boss, the Finnish geologist – spoke English during those two summers. We were doing preliminary studies of the gold deposit where there is now this mine https://www.agnicoeagle.com/English/operations-and-development-projects/operations/kittila/default.aspx).

    1. With English I have to TRY to understand and I can’t not listen and it makes me nuts.

      With any other language I can just enjoy the sounds.

      If I try listening to music while I write it either has to be something that I know so well that I’m not trying to hear the English words, or instrumentals, or something without English words.

      1. Alizee has a very nice voice that’s enjoyable listening. No idea what she’s singing. It’s French, so even if I read the words, they wouldn’t be pronounced like how they’re spelled….

        1. Working an afterschool job at a hardware store, I came across a Decoupage kit. I applied 3 years of high school German to the word. To a customer, who actually knew the pronunciation. Oops.

      2. If it is any West European language, I get driven crazy. Picking up an “English” word, or close to one, makes my brain think that if I only listened harder I would understand it all.

        Ah, just thought of another one, although it was one of my sisters – she went around the house singing “fleas on my Dad” one entire Christmas season. Rather more amusing for my family, probably, than for most other folks – our Dad was a veterinarian…

    2. From the time I first heard it in the early 1960s right into the Internet era when I could look up lyrics, I thought the first line of “La Bamba” was Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bamba. Of course, the words are in Spanish, but it didn’t help that there is a later line that goes Ba-ba-bamba.

  27. LDS “Joseph’s Smith’s First Prayer” contains the line “Joseph sought the God of love”. My 6-year old brain heard it as “socked” and I was mightily confused about why he would do that…

  28. For me it was Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” that used to drive me nuts for years with a lyric that made no sense to me.

    The actual lyric is:
    Come on now, try to understand, how I feel, under your command.

    Which was misheard as ‘They don’t see, they don’t understand, how I feel about the Orkin man.’ The Orkin man incidentally, being a chain of exterminators.

    Suffice to say, for the longest time I was trying to determine why she was in such a romantic tizzy over a guy who fried roaches with insecticide.

    1. Hey, if you were stuck inside a house full of roaches, wouldn’t you look kindly on the man who finally rescued you? Plus, exterminators make good money. She could do a lot worse.

      Plot bunny for a modern twist on the princess rescued from the dragon by a handsome knight: the heiress rescued from a hoard of insects by the Orkin man. Free to good home.

    2. *sigh*

      This is YOUR fault….

      I have to mentally “listen” to stuff with free association turned on.

      So I “listen” to the bit about the Orkin Man.

      Now I’ve got “Hey you’ve really got to understand/ how much I’d really like to win ten grand” stuck in my head.

      And company is coming over. >.<

      1. I can definitely understand why someone’d want to win ten grand though!

        We’re doing collaborate fiction now it seems, about a woman who is attacked by strange insects, loves the exterminator who comes to rescue her, but discovers the bill is $10,000. All in one pop song!

  29. Every time i hear Barry manilows song Daybreak i think he is singing date rape.

  30. I always had a bit of trouble understanding the Billy Ocean song that I now know is entitled “Caribbean Queen.” I kept hearing it as “Caribou Dream.” It only ever seemed to show up on the radio when I was driving by myself, and on radio stations that didn’t bother to announce artist and title, so it was years before I found out the real title, because nobody knew what I was talking about when I referred to “Caribou Dream.”

  31. My favorite was mistaking, “Forever in Blue Jeans” for “Reverend Luigi.”

    But my wife really cracks up over my mishearing the old commercial for I think it was Mervins, “We’re every woman, we’ve got it all.” which I misheard as “Big hairy women, we’ve got it all.”

  32. I spent an extraordinary amount of time under the impression that the lead singer of “Daydream Believer” was a husky-voiced woman and the line was “To a daydream believer, I’m the homecoming queen.”

    I also thought it said the shaving razor was cold, and it sings.

    ….Her husband thinking of her as a white knight did not faze me, and I figured the singing razor was being used on her legs.

    1. Huh, it wasn’t just me!

      I was quite startled when I saw the Monkeys show and identified the voice as that dude!

      1. I didn’t know it was anybody else. 😀 I confess to wondering what he’d think about that… *laughing* I like the song either way!

    2. “Daydream Believer” was covered by Karen Carpenter or Helen Reddy, or somebody like that. It wasn’t just the Monkees.

      Search… It was Anne Murray. Who was definitely a woman.

      1. *listens to her version*

        That is very lovely… but not actually responsible for my confusion. 😀

  33. My sister used to confuse my mother when she kept requesting the “Cow-hen song” (Bing Crosby’s “I’m an old Cowhand”)

  34. Not a song but it did take me a while to figure out what the kids wanted when they said “macaroni pizza.”

  35. *Sings*


    Which was then misheard as “a visible touch,” and only eventually invisible.

    I figured they were using touch metaphorically, and the idea was that her emotional “touch” would rip your heart out.

  36. For years I maintained that the children’s chorus at the intro for this song …

    … is actually:

    Jesus flagellates the children,
    All the little children of the world.
    Whether yellow, black or white
    They are beaten in his sight,
    All the little children of the world.

  37. Char will always be my “round young vvirgin” and I knew a woman who was “the one-eyed Gott”.

  38. Almost came to blows back in the day over a line in Radar Love that actually reads it’s half past four. Young gentleman insisted repeatedly that what he heard was it’s a half assed Ford.
    Must have been a Chevy man I guess.

  39. I don’t think this is entirely a mondegreen, but …

    You gotta love it all the same.

  40. My hearing is bad enough that misheard lyrics (and TV dialog) are a way of life. $SPOUSE asked me this morning if the [rain] barrels were set, and first hearing came out as “arrows”. We’re not friendly to visitors, but not that emphatically unfriendly. 🙂

    FWIW, part of hearing issues is due to otosclerosis. (I seem to have drawn the short straw for a few congenital diseases. I don’t buy lottery tickets.) The usual fix is to replace the fused stapes bone with a titanium prosthetic. Worked fine in right ear, but the left ear was a mess. Prosthetic #1 broke, #2 was stainless and my nickle/stainless steel allergy isn’t confined to skin. #3 has lasted 24 years so far. (Fancy synthetic.)

    I’m very familiar with song lyrics sites. 🙂

  41. And then there’s “I Am the Walrus”, where John Lennon went out of his way to make no sense at all.
    “Let’s see the f^%%$%s figure that one out” was apparently his comment after the recording.

    Then there’s “Hey Bulldog” which was supposed to be “Hey Bullfrog”, but McCarthy sang it wrong.

    1. “And then there’s “I Am the Walrus”, where John Lennon went out of his way to make no sense at all.”
      The Rutles version is even better, “One man’s civilization is another man’s jungle, yeah, they say revolution’s in the air, well, I’m dancin’ in my underwear, and I don’t care.”
      “I know you know what you know but you should know by now that you’re not me…”

  42. Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane” – back when I was a teen I heard it as “Hype-in the Vasel-aine” and wondered at the odd things druggies did with lubricants.

  43. When I was a kid of about 6 or 7, I was convinced that “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was actually “Pooping on a Ritz”, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to poop on a cracker.

  44. Wham. Even after finding out the lyrics were “Wake me up before you go go” I still hear “Wake me up before you choke him”. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the song was about.

    For my wife it was ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” which she heard as “Mr Scary”.

    1. Blinded by the light
      Wrapped up like a (couldn’t make heads or tails of the words)
      Another rotor in the night

      AS RCPete said, “I’m very familiar with song lyrics sites.”

      1. The Manfred Mann cover has the most “douche” sound. OTOH, Bruce’s original still sounds to me like “wrapped up like a deuce”. I thought it was a reference to a two-dollar bet in horse racing.

        Just looked at the lyrics, and I’ve still got them screwed up.

        The ride lyrics

        And little Early Pearly
        Came by in his curly-wurly
        And asked me if I needed a ride
        Asked me if I needed a ride.

        I drew (mistakenly) it as a reference to a tune in South Pacific

        “Honey Bun”
        Her hair is blond and curly,
        Her curls are hurly-burly.
        Her lips are pips!
        I call her hips ‘Twirly’ and ‘Whirly.’

    2. That lyric is actually “Revved up like a deuce.” OTOH, I’ve never been able to translate the line in “Blinded By The Light” that sounds to me like “A little early-birdie / Gave my anus curly-whirly / And asked me if I needed a ride.”

      No, I don’t need a ride, thank you very much. Or any of that pervy anal curly-whirly stuff. Eek.

  45. My partner says her most embarrassing mishearing was in a high school history class when she thought assassination of Archdude Ferdinand led to first world war.

    1. Had to read that one twice.
      Congratulations! Your proofreading skill level has increased by 1!

  46. Nobody all day mentioned Manfred Mann’s version of Blinded By the Light? Come on, how many songs are there out there about feminine hygiene products?

    My wife always wanted to Deck the Walls With Bowls of Candy when she was a little girl.

      1. Yep.

        The Pogo comic strip did “Deck us all with Boston Charlie”. I’ve heard a recorded version once, and sang it in the shower a few times.

    1. What’s really sad is that it’s originally Springsteen’s…. and I’ve heard his attempt to sing it…. Bleeding! My ears are bleeding!

  47. Can’t think of many misheard lyrics from my own experience. As to songs that drive me nuts, pretty much any preachy protest song drivel you could name.

    But there is one song that has become a personal bane of mine. While I was watching the first season of Robotech a while back, Minmei kept debuting “her new song”. Problem was, it was the same damn song. Over and over and over. It got to the point that I started singing along in an effort to try and lessen the pain.



            1. No! My mind had buried recollection of that one in self defense, but now its back. You’re evil!

              In my experience, Minmei’s American voice actress, Reba West, is a nice woman and decent voice actress, but she just doesn’t have a good singing voice. As Christopher commented, the repetitiveness just made it worse. They only recorded a handful of songs despite there being something like three times that many songs in the Japanese original, so whenever one of those songs was called for, the American producers recycled one of that handful.

  48. Back when new goth bands were spread by mix tape and you had to find out what was being played by the DJ by actually asking him, there was plenty of misunderstanding on lyrics – especially on imported German EBM/Darkwave/Synthpop. Especially when they mix German into the mostly-English song.

    Faderhead’s TZDV was thus known as “Death Sells Light Beer.” (I’d link the video, as it’s a great danceable song, but it’s NSFW and I’m at work.)

    Turns out he’s actually saying (in German) dance-two-three-four: Tanz, Zwo, Drei, Vier!

      1. Rock on! Enjoy!

        Someday, I hope to build the muscle on my knees up enough that with good braces, I can get back on the dance floor. Until then, I thorough;y enjoy from the sidelines.
        (If you see a duplicate, WordPress ate the first one. WordPress Delenda Est!)

        1. I used to do lots of EBM and darkwave stuff in L.A. to the point where one of the promoters would know if i hadn’t been to one recently… there’s like one venue/promoter here so i need to support em, even tho i am going to see one of the opening bands and the main band is just a plus.

  49. One that I used to mis-hear a lot is Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again,” with a ONE-LETTER mondegren that changes the whole meaning of the song. Just sing “The wife* I love is making music with my friends,” and it’s more than plain why “I can’t wait to be on the road again.”

    *Actual lyric is “The life I love….”

  50. There’s a very funny piece by William F. Buckley’s sister Aloise Buckley Heath, about having her large brood of children record a tape of Chriistmas music as a present for Grandma. The tape was to include a choral rendition of “Silent Night” – which Mother interrupted with the question “Who is Round John Virgin???”

    “One of the Twelve Opossums!”

  51. Then there’s the Mondegreen that I decided I like better than reality – like the head cannon in which the Vorkosigan arc ended at Cryoburn, there is no Highlander II, and VNV Nation’s lyrics for Further actually are:

    The sun was born and so it shall die
    So only shadows comfort me
    I know in darkness I will find you giving hope inside like me
    Each day shall end as it begins
    And though you’re far away from me
    I know in darkness I will find you giving hope inside like me

    Because that one small mishearing makes it a far more beautiful song, and my misunderstanding of it really helped once on a very long, very cold Alaskan winter night when I realized my no-longer-fiance had been cheating on me.

    1. Around here it’s “Two chickens to paralyze”.

      And the backup-singers in “Circle of Life” from the Lion King keep going on about
      Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom.
      Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom.
      Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom…

  52. When I was in junior high one of my little sister’s friends mangled a line from a Juice Newton song. The actual lyric was “just kiss my cheek before you leave me” but my sister’s friend mangled it to “just kiss my feet before-”

    Can’t remember the title of the song, though it got used in the opening to the first Deadpool movie.

      1. Try it as background music while Deadpool fights four goons in a tumbling vehicle. In slow motion.

        1. The scene they kept showing in the promo, where he’s got the “going to kill you” drawing?

          That improves the song greatly….

          1. Oh wait, it was the opening credits. Though IIRC when they showed the actual fight it was playing right before Deadpool landed in the vehicle.

            1. …aaaaaaand I messed up the lyrics. It’s “Just touch my cheek before you leave me” and not what I had above. Ah well. *facepalm*

  53. I always heard “Boys of Summer” as “Poison Summer”.

    (My love for you will still be strong,
    After the poison summer has gone.)

    Since I’ve had at least a few poison summers when I was younger, I didn’t question it much.

  54. And of course, there’s “This guy’s in love/the sky’s in love”, which i can’t hear the difference between, even when i say it myself.

  55. My “favorite” is probably the extended chorus in Natalie Merchant’s Kind and Generous. That much sheer repetition gets through even if you’re deliberately paying no attention to the music during a retail shift.

    And then my brain slowly and irritably notices the near-endlessly repeating “I want to vacuum-pack you, vacuum-pack you…”

    It was the only part of the song I ever consciously heard, so I had no other lyrics to go on. It took ages (and some difficulty) for me to find out that it was supposed to be “thank you thank you, thank you thank you…”

  56. Then there is the anti-Mondegreen where Queen actually replaces the words “One Vision” with “Fried Chicken” at the end of the song in some recordings, and I’ve been told when they used to do that song live (disclaimer, not sure if they did this in all recordings).

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