I learned a new word the other day. That word is Mondegreen.
A Mondegreen is something akin to mishearing a lyric from a song or a word from a poem.
Interestingly, the word comes from a mondegreen. It seems it all started with Sylvia Wright, an American writer, who once thought that the last line of a poem was “Lady Mondegreen.” The actual line was “laid him on the green.”
The first time I remember hearing one was when I was a small girl and Barry Manalow was a huge star. A friend of mine had a baby sister and she was singing, “looks like tomatoes” very loudly to Manalow’s song “Looks like we made it.”
I have a couple of mondegreen’s that my family STILL picks on me about to this day.
The first of them is a song by none other than Elvis Presley. As a small girl, I was a huge fan. (Hugest. Big. I thought I would marry him one day.) The song, Hound Dog, to which I would sing the lyrics like this: So, you said you wore eyeglasses, but that was just a lie. My dad still sings the song that way. I can’t help but wonder if he still sees five-year old me belting that one out at the top of my lungs.
My next mondegreen came from a song I truly hated when I was coming up. It was late 70’s and Kenny Rogers was all the rage. He came out with a song called Lucille (which was an eternal earworm for me whenever it would come on). One day, I sincerely asked my dad, “Why is it that he has 400 children and he can’t manage to get the crop in from the field?” My dad laughed and said, “He had four hungry children.” I thought about it a minute and added, “What’s wrong with those four? They can’t be that hungry if they can’t get the crop in.” (Can you tell my grandparents owned a farm?)
Here are a few of the most popular mondegreens. I hope you get a few chuckles out of these.
- Scuse me, while I kiss this guy (the sky) – Jimmy Hendrix
- Wrapped (revved) up like a douche (deuce), another rumor (runner) in the night (yep, I sang it that way too) – Manfred Mann
- It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked (make it) or not – Bon Jovi
- This is the dawning of the Age of asparagus (Aquarius), asparagus (Aquarius) – 5th Dimension
- Like a virgin, touched for the twenty (very) -first time (a whole lot of girls from my college sang it that way) – Madonna
- Fill (Build) me up buttercup – The Foundations
- Dancing queen, Feel the beat from the tangerine (tambourine), oh yeah – Abba
- I like big butts in a can of limes (and I cannot lie) – Sir Mix-a-lot
- There’s nothing that a hundred men on Mars (or more) could ever do – Toto
- Jean Ebert (Dream Weaver) (yep, thought that too) – Gary Wright
- Let’s pee (that’s me) in the corner, Let’s pee (that’s me) in the spotlight – REM
- I’ll never leave (be) your pizza burnin’ (beast of burden) (a whole generation did this) – Rolling Stones
- Red Hot (Radar) Love – Golden Earring
- Looking at your watch a good (third) time – REM
And the Number One mondegreen goes to Ironbutterfly. They wrote their own. The way I’ve heard it, it’s supposed to be In the Garden of Eden, which was slurred by the lead singer into In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.
So what’s your favorite mondegreen story?