Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Might As Well Face It...

Ever heard a song and thought, 'What on earth was that lyric?!' I'm willing to be that you have. I do it all the time. My own personal playlist of misheard lyrics would probably be enough to fill an entire radio show. (DJ Bro, take note!) Way back in 1987, or thereabouts, I amused a younger version of the aforementioned DJ, when I belted out, 'I believe in miracles, you saxophone!' No really, that's what I thought the lyric was. Not quite the same, is it? The Mouse has just reminded of me of her classic lyric misinterpretation too. When she was much younger, her dad bought her a copy of Little Boots' CD. The Mouse loved it and played it often. One day we heard her singing:
I'm gonna take you out tonight,
I'm gonna make you feel alright.
I don't gotta lotta money but I'll be fine.
No I don't gotta bunny but I'll show you a real good time.
While we were glad to know that the absence of a bunny didn't necessarily prevent one from having a good time, we did eventually point out to her that the line was, 'No I don't got a penny but I'll show you a real good time.'

I have a theory, though, that the younger you are, the more likely you are to either mishear or or misconstrue lyrics. When I was very little I remember singing:

See-saw, margarine door,
Jacqui shall have a new master.
He shall have a penny of butter a day,
Because he can't work any faster.

Yes, it was all about dietary fats and toast, as far as I was concerned. And me. Of course. My youngest niece, the utterly hilarious Baby G supported this theory recently, by singing along to Ollie Murs' 'My Heart Skips a Beat'. In the chorus there's this line that goes, 'My heart skips-skips-skips-skips-skips-skips a beat.' Obviously that makes no sense to a two and a half year old, so Baby G sings, 'My heart snakes, snakes a pea!' Yeah I know - that makes no sense either but the point is, to Baby G, it does. As does comparing the object of your affections to a saxophone. Maybe.

I've had the misheard lyrics conversation with other people too, so I know it isn't some kind of genetic default, shared only by my niece, my daughter and myself. Indeed, there is a word for this phenomenon: mondegreens. Wikipedia defines this as:
the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning.   

In fact, so universal is this mondegreen thing that there is a whole web site devoted to the topic. It is called, 'Kiss This Guy', after the famously oft-misheard Purple Haze lyric by Jimi Hendrix, although whether that is a truly misheard lyric is open to debate, apparently. If you look at the, 'All Time Funniest' page on the web site, you'll see how I came up with the title of this blog entry. I must confess, I read some of those and did the Muttley laugh.

Curse you, Muttley! It's, 'Might as well face you're addicted to love'!

Read this for your five-a-day!
I asked Mr Ruby if he knew of any more examples and he assures me that a line in Big Mouth Strikes Again, by the Smiths, is often misheard as the bizarre and slightly fetishistic, 'I'd like to mash beetroot in your hair,' instead of the lyrics actually penned by Morrissey, 'I'd like to smash every tooth in your head.' On balance, I think I'd go for the beetroot. Dreadfully messy business, mind. In a similar conversation with Dr Wise-Egg, I was delighted to discover that I am not the only person to have spent the past twenty-six years wondering why on earth Madonna sings, 'Young Girl with Eyes Like Potatoes'. Listen to her singing 'La Isla Bonita' and I defy you to hear that line sung any other way! However the Internet is a wonderful thing and if you google, 'Madonna lyrics La Isla Bonita' you can find out what she's actually singing. I was going to publish the real lyrics here, but somehow the real words lack the charm of the potato version. You'll just have to google it yourself.

Small print: Oh, OK then. The real lyrics are, 'Young girl with eyes like lumbago.'

Addendum (Latin for: the bits wot I added later)

More contributions. I reckon we could publish a magazine: Reader's Mondegreens.

The Hampshire Lass (aka my mum) offers, 'Take me and break me and baked bean island, I'm yours!' by Joe Dolan (misheard by the late, great Uncle Paul).

Mother of all Hoplets offered 'Tonight, I sellotape my guff to you,' sung by pretty much everyone, but penned by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack.

PromQueen cited Abba's 'If you change your mind on the Virgin line,' from 'Take a Chance on Me' 

The Hampshire Lad (aka my dad) says he's always wondered why Belinda Carlisle sings, 'Poo heaven is a place on earth,' and asks, 'Where is Poo heaven does it have countless toilet facilities?'

Pompey, Dad, that's where.


  1. Love it - still laughing at that title!!! :))

  2. Glad you liked it Anne. Also glad that you followed the link. There are some gems there, aren't there?