Why Misheard Lyrics are Good for You

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Tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Misheard lyrics are high on my awesome-o-meter. This is especially true when other people mishear lyrics, and I catch them doing it. But it is equally awesome when I finally realize the real words to a song. You mean, it’s not Stairway to Kevin’s? Why didn’t someone tell me that earlier? That makes so much more sense now.

I also love the humanity of misheard lyrics. We’ve all had the words wrong to a song before. Even those of us that memorized the lyrics from the album jacket of every new record we bought from Tower Records. One song always slips through, taunting us with a jumbled verse that we usually mumble along with while driving in the car. Then someone hears you and opens their eyes wide in astonishment. “Did you just say, ‘Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight’?”

That’s when you laugh nervously. “No.” Then after a moment you shrug and ask, “what the hell are the real words anyways?”

I have a new iPhone 4S, and Siri and I are getting acquainted. I’m learning to ask her for what I want, which isn’t easy for me, even when I’m talking to a phone-bot. Caught in traffic on 405 the other day, I thought I’d give Siri something to do. She seems to like little tasks. So I asked her, “Why am I stuck in traffic?”

She thought I said, “Why am I stuck entropic?” To which she answered, “This is about you not me.” Which is probably true, and when you think about it a pretty existential question to be asking while stuck in traffic. Siri probably thinks I’m really smart. Maybe a little too smart.

But it got me thinking about misheard lyrics for some reason, because let’s face it. I’d rather consider “kissing this guy” than my own state of entropy. Of course, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”, is one of the better and most often quoted misheard lyric around. Here are a few others:

  • “Catch that bus baby, we were born to run”
  • “Wrapped up like a douche, another rinny ninny night”
  • “People are strange, women are stranger”
  • “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”
  • “There’s a bathroom on the right”
  • “You might as well face it, you’re a dickhead in love”
  • “If you change your mind Jackie Chan, I’m the first in line Jackie Chan”
  • “West Virginia, mount your mama”

It’s not just me is it? I’m not the only one that belts out misheard lyrics with great aplomb am I? My grandmother used to say that if you don’t know the answer to a question just make something up and “say it with much aplomb.” I totally live by this advice. I’m always offering up random bits of information that may or may not be correct, such as how to clean a chandelier with a q-tip and Witch Hazel or why that joint pain means you need to get more sun or how the phases of the moon are all backwards. Don’t bother looking these things up. Just trust me on this one.

Extra points for anyone who knows the real words to these songs or has more awesome misheard lyrics to share. And Siri? I’ve been thinking about my state of entropy, especially my lack of creativity lately and have decided that what I really need is a good personal assistant. But that’s more about you than me, now isn’t it.

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286 responses »

  1. Love this! I spent years thinking Jerry Garcia was anthropologically challenged because he claimed to spend “the night in Utah in a kiva in the hills.” Wrong state, wrong native people and by golly, they wouldn’t let you in their kiva anyway, gringo. My husband heard me singing and suggested I substitute the words “cave” and “up.” Aha!

  2. I’ve been wondering about Siri. Its like having a buddy around all the time, but only when you need them, and no real maintenance. Will it make us more independent as a culture? We don’t need to talk to our friends as much because we have someone to bounce ideas off of? Some of my real friends aren’t any better at listening than Siri….

    Misheard lyrics are standard for me. I love to sing, but never performed in front of anyone, not even karoake. I recently took a class that required us to sing in front of an audience. Frightening. It was then, as I was practicing singing songs I thought I already knew at home that I realized how many songs that I only know half of, usually just the start and the chorus, and I just stopped singing when I got to the parts that I couldn’t make out or get down. So I didn’t have a lot of misheards, I would just go silent when there was a question. Usually old songs that I’d been singing wrong since high school. Irene Cara’s “Out Here On My Own”, Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman,” “American Pie,” “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You’d think you’d know all the lyrics to a song you’ve listened to more than 100 times, but surprisingly not so. Or maybe its just me. :)

    This is a stretch, but still related: While chatting with my husband I was speaking quickly and I said, “And I’m a perfectionist” but he heard “enema for breakfast.” Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if what we hear doesn’t make sense in conversation or in a song, we just hear it anyway and the song makes it stick.

    Thanks for this interesting post, and keep on singing!

  3. Singing out loud: The socially acceptable form of talking to yourself!

    “Billie Jean, is not my lover…she’s just a girl that said that I am the one…but that chair is not my son.”

    • I always misheard that as “I wore goggles when you are not here”………. the mental image always makes me laugh.

      • I know. Because when you’re not here, who wants to see the real world? It’s such a bummer that I have to mask my vision with this foggy plastic just to get through the day. Makes perfect sense.

  4. hahaha! ‘If you change your mind Jackie Chan, I’m the first in line Jackie Chan’ made me laugh.. well, I never knew that adele was singing ‘set fire to the rain’ in her song, er.. ‘set fire to the rain’.. oh dear.

  5. I’m a HUGE fan of misheard lyrics — so much so that I’m geeky enough to know there’s a word for it: It’s called a mondegreen.

    My children are famous for these…their versions always MUCH funnier than the original!
    :)

    • There’s actually a blog hosted on WP.com called “I Heart Mondegreens.” I found this article via the front page of “Freshly Pressed” and noticed that one on there too. (However, the blog doesn’t seem to be about mondegreens at all but European travel.)

      Wikipedia, of course, has more on the topic: wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen

      It actually sounds like a flavour of gum you chew while singing, guaranteed to make your mouth mess up the lyrics. “Try new Wrigley’s Mondegreen, wrapped up like a douche in the bathroom on the right!” :-)

  6. “There’s a bathroom on the right” is such a classic, and so many of us heard it that way! Now I can’t think of any others, but I know I’ve sung a zillion lyrics wrong. If there are people around and I’m not sure, I just mumble or hum the riff until the next word I know. Makes me a great singer, yep.

  7. There’s a song that goes “I’m not a hero, I’m a lost cause” and a friend of mine proudly sang “I’m not a hero, I’m a wash cloth”

  8. The Gallaxie wow what a car owned 3 and didn’t pay more that 200.00usd for any of them. I tried to buy one in Indianapolis 3 years ago, they only wanted 140,000. for it, I just about fell over! This car reminds me of a few good songs by the Tommy James and the Shondels, Cremson and Clover and Hanky Panky. Anyway your picture of the car made my day, thank you for that picture.

  9. “I like to see you rent a movie, I like to see you eat a pie…”
    (really “I like to see you get it moving, I like to see you getting high”)
    Love this post.

  10. I continue to have experiences of this; but with the English language instead of strictly songs. I only recently learned that “for all intensive purposes” is not how I think it is.
    Also, it’s quite funny and enlightening if you are the one making up the songs. Your friend ends up with a favorite line, which turns out is something completely different than you were singing. It’s amazing how our mind can play every chance it gets :)

  11. Such a great article…that happens to me all the time! But the worst part is that i know I’m singing the wrong lyrics, but I don’t make any effort to figure out the right ones! (I figure its okay, becuase I have a really terrible singing voice, so I doubt it’s the lyrics people are focusing on when I’m singing along to a great tune). Also, it’s really ironic that you wrote about Siri in your article, because I just posted about Siri, as well!

    Cheers!

  12. Haha, I do the same thing and was quite known for it in my friends and family circle growing up. I used to sing at the top of my lungs in the thrift store I worked at “Oh Pelican Way ” for the Oasis song “Sally can wait” ;) And are you sure it’s not “wrapped up like a douche another rumor in the night” ? I’ve thought that for years…

    Here’s my blog if you’re curious :) http://myrenaissancelife.net/

  13. What a great little post!! And yes, of course, we all do this even to the point where we try to guff it up as much as possible. Let’s be real here: What else do we have to do sitting in a Seattle (or any city) traffic jam? Unless of course you want to try and catch some kid putting his or her fingers in places they shouldn’t with a bored audience looking on which isn’t my first choice generally.

    This blog ironically is a perfect fit as it appears to take life right out of the heart of Mt. Saint Helen’s. Which brings me to the fact that I really appreciate the photo also!

    Final note! The Moon phases are so dislexic, you are so right……

  14. We have a longstanding family battle over the words to Gilbert O’Sullivans’s Claire – “nothing means more to me than hearing you say I want to marry you will you marry me “Oh Hurray” or ” Uncle Ray” Since the song is about an older guy babysitting a young female child…you are either dealing with desperate to rhyme with SAY or full on pedophilia. Neither is pleasant. Adding to the mystique is the fact that Gilbert’s birth name is..(wait for it) Raymond Edward O’Sullivan.

    • It’s uncle Ray, the girl in the song is the daughter of his manager. In Ireland we have “honorary” uncles.So as he was good friends with his manager the girl called him Uncle Ray. I say was friends, it all ended in tears, over money, what else?

  15. “the girl with colitis goes by” (the girl with kaleidescope eyes)
    “I’ll never leave your pizza burning” (I’ll never be your beast of burden)
    “…you’ve been hit by a school principal!” (…you’ve been hit by a smooth criminal)
    “slow motion Walter, the fire engine guy” (smoke on the water, fire in the sky)
    “Lucy’s in a fight with Linus!” (Lucy in the sky with diamonds)

    We used to collect these at work and bandy them about on slow days.

  16. Lately, I’ve been telling people that the best thing about losing my hearing is that other people say so much more interesting things. When I almost hear what you say in conversation and my eyes go wide, it’s because I thought you said “may I mambo dogface to the banana patch?” Mis-hearing lyrics was my whole introduction to that. Very funny post. You even got Mikalee!

  17. Back in the 90′s a guy named Gavin Edwards had a series of books dealing with mondegreens. The first was named for the Jimi Hendrix classic, ‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy. The books were hilarious.

    • Mondegreens. You mean there’s a name for this? That makes me feel better, but not in a totally good way. Kind of like being diagnosed with a strange disease you’d never heard of. On the one hand, you just got diagnosed with something weird, on the other hand at least now you know. It explains a lot.

  18. You mean it’s NOT ‘wrapped up like a douche, you know I’m running in the night”? And I LOVE the lyric:”She’s got electric boobs, a mohair tooth, you know I read it in a magazine…..” wonderful lift to my day. Can finish my writing time with a smile on my face. Thanks for the ‘inspiration’.

  19. Love this! I know of someone who thought the opening lines to mamas and papas California dreamin’ were ‘Mona Lisa Brown’.

    Mine is a misunderstood lyric – Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory’ goes: “I’m a colt in a stable…”. I must have watched too many westerns because the only colt I knew was a gun, and I thought; ‘What do you mean? A gun above a stable door? A gun to shoot a horse? What?!’ Then I found out it is also a pony…

  20. I actually laughed out loud when I read your list because not only do I recognize them all, but that is how I know them and never really cared to learn the correct lyrics.

  21. Love this post, The list of mondegreens is endless and hilarious.
    “I got no towel, I hung it up again” (Chumbawumba)
    “The girl with colitis goes by” (Beatles)

    It’s always great when you are singing aloud and totally have the wrong lyrics. Then everyone suddenly notices you singing.
    Congrats on the FP!
    Cheers!
    irunibreathe.wordpress.com

  22. Brilliant post. I think everyone has misheard a few lyrics in their time, it’s something I do quite regularly as well. OK, so it can be embarrassing when you take to the stage and confidently perform karaoke, getting the chorus completely wrong because you “don’t need the lyrics.”

    On another note, I’m pleased to see someone else has an awesometer (or awesome-o-meter as you call it). A meter to test someones level of awesome needs to be invented soon

  23. I remember getting pulled up at 7 years old because I couldn’t sing the national anthem properly. I had survived 2 years at school with my own lyrics and I was finally caught. Apparently “australians all eat ostriches for we are hungary.” was not as acceptable as “australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free”.

    • Yeah, not so much. Your mother land probably doesn’t want its citizens to declare their hunger in an anthem. Or their love of ostrich meat either. That’s awkward.

  24. Oh so funny! Laughed out loud on this post. It also gets funny when you’re listening to songs in English when it’s not your mother tongue and then suddenly hear German words out of it.

    • Even better. I wish I knew another language well enough to catch misheard lyrics. My husband speaks German and I’ve learned a few words along the way. I know how to tell the dog to lie down in German, for example. Which would be handy if we had a dog.

  25. The opening lyrics to Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic misheard: ‘An old man turned and he ate’ Which oddly made sense to my 12 year old self. Fast forward about ten years and I realised the old man had turned ninety eight.

    • Your 12 year old self was right. I can totally imagine a guy standing at a party talking to guests, then he turns his head and eats a canapé. Or a tortilla chip. Or a shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce.

    • Good one. I’d love to hear the embarrassing story that goes with it. Any time the word sexy gets thrown into a misheard lyric you know you’re in trouble. Thanks for stopping by.

  26. Love it! There’s a bathroom on the right is an absolute classic. We refer to them as misconstrued lyrics in my neck of the woods, and one of my favorites is “I’ll never keep your pizza burning”, which translates into the Stones “I’ll never be your beast of burden.”

    • I’ll never keep your pizza burning. That’s awesome. Now I will have that version of the classic stuck in my head for the next 10 hours. Thank you for this. Also, I’m on my way to your blog. It looks delightful.

  27. hah my brother is always mistaking the lyrics in songs and it used to bother me so much that i would print all of his favorite song lyrics out and try to make him memorize them! now though i find it endearing.

    • It is endearing. It makes us human. We connect on our humanness not on our shiny, glossy perfection. That sentence was redundant. I know that, but I like the way it sounds. It’s staying.

  28. Hilarious! In Sheryl Crow’s song, “Soak Up the Sun,” my kids were confused by “I’ve got my 45 on so I can rock on.”

    “Why does Sheryl Crow need a gun?” they wanted to know. Not a misheard lyric, I know, just misunderstood. I am so freaking old…

  29. I would think being stuck in traffic is the perfect place to be asking yourself existential questions. Where else are you going to see the bumper sticker that answers all of life’s enigmas?

    I have always held a “fake it till you make it” credo. With regard to lyrics that aren’t correct, who’s to judge? Isn’t art open to interpretation?!? Besides, if you own the mislyric, then people around you who may be the wiser will think you are being intentionally goofy. Others may be silently thanking you for correcting their own mislyric of the same song, and still others are probably hoping I’ll stop singing out loud at any moment. I’m sorry, I had a flashback…

    I think life is a little more entertaining when we don’t know the words. Variety is a spice..or something like that.

    This post was inspirational ~ Thanks for sharing!!!

  30. From you shook me all night long…

    “she was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean
    was the best damn woman that I ever seen
    she had him circumcised, telling me no lies”

    Found out the hard way when I was singing with my cousin’s band during a garage rehearsal……….

  31. “Blinded by the Light” has got to be one of the worst songs ever for getting the correct lyrics! The incorrect probably make more sense anyway. Funny post, thanks for sharing!

    • When I first wrote this post, I forgot about my childhood’s friends rendition of Blinded by the Light. It was “…another rinny ninny night.” So I just updated my post to reflect her awesome interpretation. Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

  32. Man, Eiffel 65.. I’m Blue “I’m in need of a guy” was pretty big when that one hit wonder was all over the radio :P Misheard Lyrics are the cause of loads of entertainment.

  33. Love this!
    I always sang, “wrapped up like a doushen another roller in the night.” I don’t know what a doushen is.
    I also still sing “big old chad had a lino” for Big ol’ jet airliner. I don’t know what a lino is either.
    And one of my friends thought that Tiny Dancer was “hold me up and tie me down sir” ahahahah

  34. SO GLAD I’m not the only one who has been singing “wrapped up like a douche” all of these years. I have always thought “That makes no sense” but damn if I didn’t sing it loud and proud anyway! Viva La Misheard Lyrics!

  35. Even though it’s a stretch, here’s my favourite from an MIA song… “Cos all I wana do is pew pew pew pew pew pew pew, and take yer puppies”

  36. Haha this was such a fun post! I always misheard that Macy Gray song as “I wear goggles when you are not there.”

    ProfMomEsq’s comment above about “fly like a cheese stick” is probably my new favorite misheard lyric.

  37. My sister heard “When I’m at the mall, security just can’t fly the ball.” Instead of “When I’m at the mall, security just can’t fight ‘em all.” I love misheard lyrics. And then Googling the correct ones and shaking my head at myself.

  38. My boyfriend will purposely make up wrong lyrics and belt them out when he thinks no one is listening…. Like when he’s in the shower, or cooking. Another fun thing o do is substitute your dog’s name for a lyric and serenade them. For example, imagine singing passionately to your dog, “Just a small town girl, living in a Buster worlddddddd.” It never gets old :)

  39. I often belt out the wrong words and not just to songs… to sayings/expressions too… go on the sounds rather than the actual words and don’t check up… oh well! Cheers for making me laugh.

  40. Heaven by Brian Adams (and the techno remix that came later on) was my favourite misquoted songs!! I often belted out: MAYBE YOU´RE ALL THAT I WANT, WHEN I´M LYING HERE IN YOUR ARMS, until a friend said to me: maybe you´re all that I want? I think they´re saying “baby you´re all that i want”… Totally changed the meaning of the song!! Good post!

  41. My favourite… a mate of mine though the lyrics to “if you tolerate this” by Manic Street Preachers was “If you tell a rapist, then your children will be next”….. HA!

  42. I think I know all of the misheard lyrics, although admittedly–the second Springsteen one I only know from ‘misheard lyrics’ lists!

    I’d like to add Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” For a long time I thought the line went “I’ll proceed from shame.” In reality, it’s “Aqua Seafoam shame.” I like mine better.

  43. Your grandma reminds me of my mom (She’ll kill me for that!). She used to mis-lyric songs with amazing regularity and sing it with such confidence that I started to doubt my cognitive abilities.

  44. Love this! I remember an episode of “Friends” when Phoebe thought Elton John was singing, “hold me close oh, Tony Danza (not Tiny Dancer).” Thanks for the laugh. So true!

  45. As a kid I thought it was “you’re a sandal in the bin” not a “candle in the wind”…which made it a strange choice for Princess Di’s funeral…

  46. Reminds me of a T-mobile commercial a few years back, where Catherine Zeta-Jones pops in on a couple’s debate of Deff Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, after the husband was bopping and singing “POUR SOME SHOOK-UP RAMEN!”. And I remember an old Olivia Newton-John song where I heard “Captain Mully, we are magic” (“Have to beleive, we are magic”) and kept hassling my older sister with “Who is Captain Mully?”, thinking he was some mysterious celebrity of the adult world. Then there’s pretty much any Pearl Jam song past the year 1999, where, for all intents and purposes, Eddie Vedder might as well just be mumbling backwards in a pig-latin version of Klingon.

  47. Electric Light Orchestra’s “Evil Woman” – it was only in the past few years that I learned the real lyrics were not “Medieval Woman” – c’mon sing it with me – “med-ieval woman, med-ieval woman, med-ieval woman, medieval woman”.

  48. I was singing “I’m on a dance floor trying to call home” instead of “I’m at a pay phone” until my friend caught me. Your post rings true for all!

  49. As a do-good kid, I could never sing along to the song lyrics that said “From Birmingham to Ohio” because I thought they were “From Burning Hell to Ohio”. I used to fake yawn or cough every time the singer said “Birmingham”. My parents must have thought I was nuts. :) Congrats on the Freshly Pressed!

  50. As a retired music teacher I have heard more than my share of mis-sung lyrics. Jose can you see, comes to mind of I’d like to teach the world to sing, and furnish #### with love. Junior high school youngsters love to mess that one up.
    Thanks for the blog.

  51. I was literally LMAO when I saw your misheard John Denver lyric hadn’t thought about that in years…. I’m sure the folks in West Virginia must cringe every time that “Country Roads” gets played! Great Post!

      • Actually, all the folks I’ve met from West Virginia are pretty happy about “Country Roads”. If I remember correctly, the WVU alumni softball team used to sing it after winning games (and drinking more than a few adult beverages).

        • Country Roads is a bit of a a guilty pleasure for me. When I used to lead backcountry trips for Outward Bound I’d have all the kids singing the words by the end. That and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.

  52. Revved up like a Deuce, and a runner in the night, is talking about a hotrodded 1932 Ford (Deuce) Coupe. Also see Little Deuce Coupe by (alzheimer empty spot). Check Lyrics.com

  53. When my daughter was four or five, she was in ballet, and her group was going to perform in 50′s outfits, doing a song that my daughter called “We’re shaking the baby now”. (Shake it up, baby)

  54. Genius! I’m often scared that technology is taking away our misremembered moments. I remember (very) long car rides in the back of the station wagon with my brothers arguing about the lyrics. Now you can just Shazam and have the lyrics and the song in less than 30 seconds… it kills me. Because there is so much potential in the misheard. So much fun…

  55. this is so funny…and true.
    my mum used to misheard songs, the best one was when she san was ‘dont forget to be onion free’
    I never told her it was ‘young and free’ because it ws funnier watching the peole around giving her funny looks.

  56. Splendid stuff, Kim. The one that always springs to mind for me is from The Stranglers’ Golden Brown. I was always convinced as an impressionable young lad – roughly knowing about the drug connotations – it was ‘Lays me down, with my mancherums’, assuming these were some sort of fancy cigar with extra-herbal qualities. The actual lyric, learned much later, – ‘with my mind she runs’ – was a let-down.

    • That would be challenging. Conjures quite an image. I can’t imagine dancing with a psychopath wearing slacks made out of chickens. But that would be better than dancing with a psychopath that wants to make slacks out of your own skin. If I had to choose one or the other, it’d be the chicken slacks. Just saying.

  57. Hi Folks-
    I am a songwriter, so this topic “hooked me in.” There was a thread on this same subject @ http://www.justplainfolks.org a while back, and many of these blunders were entered into the discussion.

    These mis- interpreted lyric can bring a smile on our faces, or embarrassment some times…..I’ll never forget the time we were at Sears. I ran into a friend from high school in the record department. I told him I was searching for the Beatles new hit single STATE TROOPER. He immediately broke out in laughter and corrected me by asking; “Did you mean DAY TRIPPER?” I said what? I thought it was STATE TROOPER you know, one way ticket yeah. A moment later it dawned on me he was correct, and only hearing the tune once or twice, I knew I mis-heard the lyric. Before I actually really paid close attention while listening to LUCILLE by Kenny Rogers, I had fun wondering, “are their really 400 children and a crop in the field?” Have fun all! Hear my compositions at: http://www.soundclick.com/coolcatcal http://www.starseeker777.wordpress.com.

  58. Funny and spot on….I sang (amongst others)….What you do na na na na What you do…instead of Waterloo…(Abba) you could run a whole website on misheard lyrics…nice post!

  59. Aw man. I have SO many misheard lyrics.
    #1 from Bohemian Rhapsody : Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard, me…. for me, for me
    #2 So bring us a pretty pudding (from that christmas song We wish you a merry christmas. Actually its bring us a FIGGY pudding. Think mine makes MUCH more sense!)

  60. I’m not sure I should admit this publicly, but when CSI came out, I wondered why a show set in Las Vegas would have a theme song that went “Neeeew Or-leans, doot-doo, doot-doo.” I am afraid my son has this gene as well.

  61. Thanks for the laugh this morning. Not just a LOL or a LMFAO but a real, old fashioned, good for the soul smile, show your teeth and laugh!

  62. These can be so much fun! (I think they’re called mondegreens.) Anyway, the one that always gets me is the Dave Matthews Band song with “can’t find a better man” in it. For the longest time, I always thought it was “can’t find the butter man” and I got so confused! Why a butter man? A few years later, I was in the car with one of my friends when the song came on. I told her about the butter man and now that’s all she hears when the song is being played. I’m evil :D

  63. My Mum still thinks Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ is ‘Mud on the Dancefloor’ and thinks it’s hilarious to sing a song about mud! I don’t have the heart to correct her!

  64. Your post and all the comments made me laugh until there were tears rolling my cheek. I have to start following you.

  65. My best personal ‘misheard lyric’ was from a song called Put Your Records on, I thought there was the line ‘Sci-Fi invaded dreams’ in the song when it was actually ‘Sapphire and faded jeans’ I liked my version more.

  66. That’s so funny! I remember one day my parents coming home form shopping and they were in a debate about something. At the time I wasn’t sure what. But my dad entered the house saying “that IS what they say. Didn’t you hear it?” My mom countered: “They are not saying THAT!” Of course I wanted to know what it was, so I looked at them and they asked me to Google the lyrics. Of course my dad was wrong: they weren’t saying douche. They were saying coupe. Ah, me. Good times.

    • Good times indeed. I can’t believe your dad actually fought for douche. Misheard lyrics are almost subconscious for me, but when someone questions me I’m usually all “Duh. Of course its not douche. Why would he be saying douche?”

      • Yeah, I’ve never heard my dad say the word douche before. Kinda weird. But he was certain. I like your comment. I thought it said douche for the longest time. Couldn’t think of a good reason WHY but that’s all I heard. good post. Thanks for writing what we were all thinking!

  67. Thanks for this. It made me laugh out loud. Though at first my husband came worriedly out of the office asking “are you ok?” He thought I was crying :) But no, laughing I was.
    And I am a wretched offender when it comes to the wrong lyrics. It drives my sister crazy! But I think it makes the song more interesting when you sing “electric toaster” instead of whatever the real words are that make more sense I’m sure.

    http://dyefeltsool.com/

    • That’s great. The laughing part I mean. Not the husband worried about you part. When I wrote my book about how my husband’s trek through cancer and liver transplant actually drew upon strength from my adventurous life, I tried to use humor to tell the story. I’m not sure if many readers have laughed out loud, but it’s a thrill to know my writing can do that too. Misheard lyrics is way funnier than cancer, but not as funny as using explosives to set off avalanches, because that shit is hilarious.

  68. 3 of my favorites that I’ve thought or have heard:

    “I can smell the pizza burnin” (Beast of Burden, The Rolling Stones)

    “Women in shorts…it’s a put on” (Eminence Front, The Who)

    “All I need is you tonight, flying like a semen kite” (Touch and Go, The Cars) Never laughed so hard when I learend the word was ‘cement’ not semen; sheesh.

  69. Reblogged this on My Etch-A-Sketch Life and commented:
    This made me really chuckle, since it’s quite often that me and my girls will often add our own ‘spice’ (i.e., lyrics) to songs. What’s even better is when my 7 yr. old is laughing historically at something but admits she has no idea what it means but its funny anyway. Sometimes adding your own spice makes a song better anyway, in my humble opinion. So, you know who you are… I’m no lyric police but let’s ‘Hit the Pea Square’!

  70. First time me and my brother heard Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” I was convinced that she was singing “Last night I dreamt of some fellow” (it’s San Pedro) and in another line my brother thought she sang “young girls with eyes like potatoes” (a desert).

  71. Great post! When I was little I thought that in the oldies song, “Hitchin’ a Ride,” they were instead saying “chicken and rice.” No idea why since it made no sense!

  72. When I was a kid I thought the Christmas song ‘away in a manger’ began ‘away in a major note’ and belted it out loudly during choir practice week after week. Great post!!!!!!!

  73. I love this, I am always the person singing the wrong lyrics, sometimes even after I know the lyrics I will forget to correct myself and continue to sing the songs that way long after I know the true lyrics. Sometimes it makes me feel like the song is mine that way, and I can connect with it more. Music is so subjective and personal that it almost doesn’t matter what they are in the first place.

  74. Pingback: [Music DV] Violence is not fun and youth is no excuse « Deliberate Donkey

  75. Misheard lyrics I was singing aloud as a child:

    “I’m your penis, I’m your fire, pure desire” (“Venus” by Bananarama)

    • Me too! I used to think it was such a dirty song. Then it played at my 8th grade dance and I thought, “Wait a minute. This couldn’t possibly be the words if they are playing it here!”

  76. My friends make fun of me for this ALL THE TIME. One of my personal favorite slip-ups was for a Ke$ha song…I thought it was “our bodies full of rum, rum, rum” instead of “our bodies going numb, numb, numb”

  77. A couple from my wife from when she was a kid:
    “Hold me closer Tony Danza”…instead of “Hold me closer Tiny Dancer”.
    “Secret ASIAN man, Secret ASIAN man!” instead of “Secret Agent Man”.

  78. oh man, my husband always makes fun of me for saying the wrong words…. lol! Most especially the Cranberries – Zombie. Pretty sure the words are actually “in your head, in your head, zombie” not “Eats your head, eats your head, zombie, zombie…”

    Thanks for the laugh!

  79. I am banging my head on the kitchen table from laughing so hard.

    An oldie but a goodie: Dobie Gray’s “Gimme the Beach Boys and squeeze my soul ” aka “Drift Away”

    Love misconstrued lyrics: I’m a visual thinker, they inspire me.

  80. It was until I was about 16 that I realised I’d been hearing a lyric from ‘like a prayer’ by Madonna, incorrectly. I always thought she was singing “level crossing” instead of “let the choir sing”….. Oh the shame when I found out!

      • I was on the school bus and it was playing over the speakers on the radio and I just heard it correctly! I felt so dumb. Strange thing is I met my husband 5 years later and I told him about it one day – he’d thought the same thing until that moment! We musta been meant to be!

  81. This was great! I laughed harder than I have for days…I actually got a headache… :)

    So, I have my own misheard story–My sister and I were out shopping today, enjoying the time together, when Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” came on…we both were singing along, until…”And all the other boys, wanna tase me…so here’s my number, and call me Baby”. My sister looked at me like I was nuts….
    Yeah, I sure hope all the boys don’t want to tase me…. lol :-)

    Congrats on the FP!! :)

  82. Its hilarious that someone else mishears lyrics as much as I do! I get teased constantly! For years I thought Alanis Morrisset was singing about “ants in the shower”….

  83. Pingback: Don’t Forget the Lyrics: Monday Mondegreen Mix | 99 RPM

  84. I’ve been thinking about this post ever since I read it and it looks like many others have too! This weekend my twin 8-year olds were singing songs that I play over and over. Nothing like an 8-year old boy butchering Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” I also realized I don’t know all the correct lyrics to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

  85. I’ll bet I’ve looked up the lyrics to “Blinded by the Light” ten times, and I simply cannot remember that one line. I can always remember it’s something about a douce, but the rest just won’t stay with me. Funny post!

  86. this is funny…do you train politicians, by the way? I’ve heard a few belt out babble (with much aplomb) that made no sense at all, but the crowd went wild. (you can tell I’m not into politics, eh?)
    :-)

  87. Oho, wonderful! I love music and there are lots of lyrics I’ve misheard over the years, especially when I was younger. One that I got wrong for years was in Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”. The line was “Between you and me, I could honestly say that things could only get better.” For a long time I thought he was singing “I could almost have said”. But even better was an example of misheard lyrics that I preferred to the real lyrics. The song was the ever-popular Oasis tune “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. I got more than one line wrong in that; I thought “where nobody knows if it’s night or day” was, in fact “if it’s not our day”. I also thought “her soul slides away” was “we’re so sad to wait”. But at the very end Liam Gallagher mutters “it’s not too late”. I had always thought that was “at least not today”. More than that, I thought it rhymed better with the final chorus before it. What does everyone else think?

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