Misheard lyrics from hit songs: Mondegreens from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s

Mondegreens - Misheard classic song lyrics

Check out some classic hit songs that all have a common theme: a lot of us have misheard the lyrics, so we’re singing them wrong — sometimes hilariously so.

Whether on karaoke night or in the car, we loudly yell along to our favorite tunes with the words we think they said, but we’re are actually vocalizing nonsense…. and sometimes make a good song better, or a bad song worse.

Back in 1979, journalist William Safire wrote about several curious cases of misunderstood lyrics, and why they were called mondegreens.

“This is a word coined in a 1954 Harper’s Magazine article, ‘The Death of Lady Mondegreen’ by Sylvia Wright, which reported on the doings of ‘Gladly, the cross-eyed bear’ (the way many children hear ‘Gladly the Cross I’d Bear’) and other sound-alikes.

“Miss Wright recalled a Scottish ballad, The Bonny Earl of Moray, from Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, which sounded to her like this: Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, Oh, where hae ye been? They hae slain the Earl Amurray. And Lady Mondegreen.”

The actual words:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh where have you been?
They have slain the Earl o’Moray
And layd him on the green.

“She envisioned the bonny Earl holding the beautiful Lady Mondegreen’s hand, both bleeding profusely, but faithful unto death.

“‘By now,’ Miss Wright wrote, ‘several of you more alert readers are jumping up and down in your impatience to interrupt and point out that, according to the poem, after they killed the Earl of Murray, they laid him on the green. I know about this, but I won’t give in to it. Leaving him to die all alone without even anyone to hold his hand — I won’t have it.'”[/box]

MORE
Swimsuits, sleepwear & '70s lingerie from the 1973 JC Penney catalog

Bob Dylan: “Blowin’ In The Wind”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”


The Beatles: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “The girl with colitis goes by”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes”


Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Bad Moon Rising”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Don’t go around tonight / Well, it’s bound to take all night / There’s a bathroom on the right”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Don’t go around tonight / Well, it’s bound to take your life / There’s a bad moon on the rise”

Creedence Clearwater Revival runs a rock ‘n’ roll factory (1971)


Elton John: “Tiny Dancer”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Hold me closer, tiny dancer”


Johnny Nash: “I Can See Clearly Now”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “I can see clearly now Lorraine is gone”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “I can see clearly now the rain has gone”

WRONG LYRICS: “I can see all popsicles in my way”
RIGHT LYRICS: “I can see all the obstacles in my way”


The Steve Miller Band: “Jet Airliner”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Big Old Jed had a light on”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Big old jet airliner”


Neil Diamond: “Forever in Blue Jeans”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Reverend Blue Jeans”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Forever in blue jeans”


Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: “Blinded By the Light”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Wrapped up like a douche, you know the rumor in the night”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night”

MORE
Trendy '80s women's shoes from the 1983 JC Penney catalog


Eddie Money: “Two Tickets To Paradise”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “I’ve got two chickens with parrot eyes” OR “I’ve got two chickens to paralyze”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “I’ve got two tickets to paradise”


Bon Jovi: “Livin’ On A Prayer”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not”


Jimi Hendrix: “Purple Haze”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky”

Jimi Hendrix concert is an experience, all right (1968)


Bee Gees: Stayin’ Alive

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Sayin’ a lie, sayin’ a lie”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive”


Bee Gees: More Than A Woman

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Bald-headed woman… bald-headed woman to me”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “More than a woman… more than a woman to me”


Rolling Stones: Beast Of Burden

MISHEARD LYRICS: “I’ll never leave your pizza burning”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “I’ll never be your beast of burden”


Toto: Africa

MISHEARD LYRICS: “There’s nothing that a hundred men on Mars could ever do”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do”

WRONG LYRICS: “I guess it rains down in Africa”
RIGHT LYRICS: “I bless the rains down in Africa”


Jose Feliciano: “Feliz Navidad”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Police have a dog”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Feliz Navidad”


Elvis Presley: Hound Dog

MISHEARD LYRICS: “You ain’t never pornographic, and you ain’t no friend of mine”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “You ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine”

MORE
What were the most popular toys in the early '80s? See toys, games & fun for kids in the 1981 Sears Catalog Wishbook


Smokey Robinson: “I Second That Emotion”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “I second that in lotion”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “I second that emotion”


Three Dog Night: Joy to the World

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Joy to the visions that the people see”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea”


Abba: Dancing Queen

MISHEARD LYRICS: “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “See that girl, watch that scene, diggin’ the dancing queen”


Starship: We Built This City

MISHEARD LYRICS: “My pony plays the mamba”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Marconi plays the mamba”


Pink Floyd: “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”

MISHEARD LYRICS: “We don’t need no sex vacation”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “We don’t need no education”


Crystal Gayle: Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

MISHEARD LYRICS: “Donuts make my brown eyes blue”
ACTUAL LYRICS: “Don’t it make my brown eyes blue”

Send this to a friend