On this blog I’ve shared some of my funny “Say what?” moments. But hard of hearing people aren’t the only ones who hear things wrong; it can happen to hearing people too. Have you heard of mondegreens? A mondegreen is the phenomenon of a commonly misheard song lyric or phrase of poetry. How does this happen? According to TVTropes.org : “Sometimes it's the speed or pitch that a lyric is delivered at, but often, a song lyric or recited poem will become famous not for what it says, but for what it sounds like it says to the uncareful ear.”
I remember a funny example that was featured on a T-Mobile ad awhile back. There’s a couple in a car discussing the lyrics to a classic Def Leppard song. The guy thinks the song says, “Pour some shook-up ramen on me.” His girl is incredulous that he doesn’t know that the correct words are “Pour some sugar on me.” To settle their argument, they use a T-Mobile cell phone to call a librarian. The next scene shows a librarian primly reading Def Leppard’s racy lyrics. Fortunately, I’ve never had to answer any questions like that!
One of my favorite mondegreens from TVTropes is "There's a bathroom on the right" (the line at the end of each verse of "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The correct words are "There's a bad moon on the rise"). The site says that “John Fogerty has been known to sing the Mondegreen at concerts, for a laugh.” I’m listening to the song as I write this and now all I can hear is the wrong lyrics. Tee hee.
If you’re looking for a chuckle check out this funny website dedicated to misheard song lyrics. The address (kissthisguy.com) is a nod to the famous mondegreen of Jimi Hendrix’s song “Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” You can click on each mondegreen to read the right words and vote whether you thought the mondegreen was funny or not.
Jon Carroll a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle publishes mondegreens regularly in his column. You can read one of his classic articles here.
Do you have any mondegreens you’d like to share?