The inimitable Hyperion posted a short piece yesterday about “Mondegreens,” and as I began to comment on his post, I realized that my family, truly, holds (or should hold) the Mondegreen record, if for no other reason than the sheer inability of any of us to ever get the words to a song right the first time.
Let me back up and explain. Mondegreens, as Hyperion explained, occur when you mis-hear a phrase (usually accidentally), most commonly in music lyrics. According to Wikipedia, Sylvia Wright invented the term when she misunderstood the words to a poem her mother read to her. The poem read, “They hae slain the Earl Amurray, and laid him on the green.” Sylvia heard “They have slain Earl Amurray, and Lady Mondegreen,” and thus, the Mondegreen was born.

I could have forgone the above explanation and jumped right in with an example that we are all familiar with, in Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Where the lyrics are “excuse me, while I kiss the sky,” we’ve all come to know them as “excuse me, while I kiss this guy.”

But growing up, my family came up with lots more. Lots. Some of those examples include:

  • Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden”: “I’ll never be your pizza burnin’…” (Um, that would be beast of burden, bro)
  • Andy Gibb’s “I Just Wanna Be Your Everything”: “I just wanna be your belly dancer…” (Everything. Say it with me.)
  • Elton John’s “Sad Songs”: “.They reach into your room..and feel their genitals…” (Gentle touch sounds a whole lot better here.)

There are more, I promise. But enough about me. I wanna hear yours. What “Mondegreens” hide in your closet? Bring ’em out. We’re all friends here.