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]
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”