Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Moves Me - Mondegreens

Have you been guilty of mishearing song lyrics? I suspect that all of us have.  I've even blogged about it a couple of times in the past, but this one will be a little different.

Last week, on Music Moves Me, I erred and blogged on the wrong theme.  This week's theme is music about vehicles such as cars, trucks, and (OK, I made this one up) motorcycles.  I blogged about them last week, so I was told it was OK to blog about anything I wanted.   So, how about mondegreens (with a song or two about cars and motorcycles thrown in?)

Did you know that misheard lyrics have an interesting name.   Mondegreens:  "a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song."  The origin of this expression apparently was coined by a woman, Sylvia Wright , who misheard a lyric of an old (possibly 17th century) Scottish ballard as a child: "The Bonnie Earl of Moray".  (I've seen it spelled various ways online, by the way).

Here are some of the lyrics (and if this history of the term does not interest you, feel free to skip down to the rock songs):

Ye Hielan's an' ye Lowlan's
O, where have ye been?
They hae slain the Earl of Moray
And lain him on the green...
(the full lyrics can be found here).

The poor bonnie Earl o' Moray, laid on the green, somehow had morphed into Lady Mondegreen.

A number of websites exist for the purpose of discussing song lyrics and allowing people to discuss lyrics that other people have misheard.  

Just the other day, I was listening to a radio DJ explain that one of her listeners misheard the Go-Go's lyrics "Our Lips are Sealed" as "Alice the Seal". 

The king of mondegreen songs may be "Blinded by the Light", written by Bruce Springsteen.  How I love the cover done by Manfred Mann's Dirt Band, but I can barely understand any of its lyrics. This video includes the lyrics.

One of the lines, in particular, gives many people problems:  "Revved up like a deuce/another runner in the night".(I won't entertain you with what people think they are hearing - use your imagination.)  This interview explains more of the lyrics.

So there, a car song.  A "deuce", I have read, refers to a 1932 Ford Coupe, a car that was a favorite of hot rodders.  The "deuce" is the two in the year of manufacture.

Speaking of Bruce Springsteen, how about Born to Run, and its several mentions of motorcycles and cars? 

Here are some other songs containing mondegreens.
Is Elton John really singing "Hold me Closer, Tony Danza"?

Queen isn't singing "Kicking your cat all over the place" in We Will Rock You, but, for years, I thought they were.
No, there's no bathroom on the right in Bad Moon Rising, by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I end today with one of the most hilarious sendups of songs that can't be understood (sorry, Nirvana fans) in history:  Weird Al's Smells Like Nirvana.

Do you have any favorite mondegreens?

Join this #MusicMovesMe blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost


  1. I never knew that Manfred Mann song was written by Springsteen. (That was the problem with Fake Books- they rarely attributed the composer. But, I knew the verbiage and thought it was written by someone on acid...)

  2. A very nice playlist. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Oh, wow, you got most of mine!
    I would add any song written by Bob Dylan.
    And Oh, Canada, as heard by my younger sister...

  4. Queen is really kicking the cat! That is what I hear. I always thought it was Knights in White Satin, not nights!

  5. That is so interesting! I am always getting song lyrics wrong! I will let my kids know because I am sure they think I am the only adult that does this :)

  6. Wonderful post! I didn't even know that was a thing I am always getting song lyrics wrong!

  7. LOL!!! Guilty, guilty, guilty! I "mishear" lyrics all the time and sometimes I like mine better than the lyricist's. But who knew there was an actual name for that? Mondegreen. I always learn things from your posts.

  8. I always though "a deuce" in "Blinded By The Light" referred to a Buick Electra 225, commonly referred to as a "deuce and a quarter," but yours makes more sense.

    My favorite is still "There's a bathroom on the right..."

  9. I have misheard song lyrics and been ragged mercilessly for singing my own lyrics .Liked reading this !

  10. Wow, this would be a GREAT theme! Songs with what you think they're singing!!! bwahahahaha I'm gonna remember this one and post it for ya girlfriend! Love your post and yes I was the one that said your FREEBIE is today!!! YOU GO GIRL!!! And its great!!! BIG HUGS & HAVE A ROCKIN WEEK! Just love it!

  11. Oh my gosh, you mean it's really "deuce?" I have wondered why he was saying the word I *thought* he was saying for decades. And oh my gosh, my son and I sometimes sing "hold me closer, Tony Danza," on purpose in honor of Phoebe! And there's a book called "There's a Bathroom on the Right" which is, of course, about midheard lyrics. Love Weird Al!! Great post and I love the topic. So delightfully funny!! :)

  12. What a cool list of songs, some I even remember!

  13. LOL! For years I haven't heard "Alice the Seal" nor "Our lips are sealed." I thought they sang, "How does it feel?" Or blinded by the light. Dressed up like a douche, you know the runner in the night? As for Queen, I thought they were kicking a can all over the place. Are they? More confessions, I thought the bad moon was on the right. This is a fun theme and your songs are great! I finally figured out that the singer from the song in my zumba class doesn't want to tase his girlfriend, but rather taste her. Go figure?

    Of course the most famous of these is the discovery that Jimi Hendrix is not gay and doesn't want to "kiss this guy." Thanks for the entertaining post!

  14. I had heard that term before, but when I saw your post title, I had forgotten about it. Funny stuff.

  15. Interesting collection. Some of the songs are new to me, and I checked them out, and I really like them, so thanks for sharing. :)

  16. Alana,

    LOL what a fun mewsical post! I get song lyrics wrong all the time. DH is like, what did you say? When I repeat the words, he usually points out my error and I always tell him that I can't help it if the artist gets it wrong. :D I didn't know a deuce refers to a muscle car. That's cool to know and by golly you got with the theme anyhow with this pick but know we aren't mewsic snobs. Just play some tunes and we're happy as a clams. Thanks for hitting the dance floor with us, my friend. Have a tunetastic week and keep on rockin'!

  17. Hahahaha! Weird Al's Nirvana song is hilarious! The actual song really does have some strange lyrics. I never understood them in the song and when you see them in writing, I still don't get it. I looked up the lyrics at and found it to be a very interesting read. When you have a chance, check it out and after you read the lyrics, read the page - about what Kurt Cobain says about the song and then I got a kick out of the Comments in which people are interpreting the meaning of the lyrics. I'm like, "Where did they get THAT from??" Let me know what you think.

    I had no idea that misheard lyrics had a name! Never heard of mondegreens. The Scottish history lesson was cool.
    And like so many others, I always sang CCR's lyrics as "there's a bathroom on the right" and Manford Mann's was "rolled up like a douche". And the Go-Go's song: I had to look the lyrics up way back when because I couldn't figure out what they said: when I KNEW they were singing "Our lips are sealed" then I heard it that way but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out before that.

    I can't think of any others right off the top of my head but I know I sing lyrics wrong all the time. It really is a funny topic.

    BRILLIANT post here Alana! Loved it!!

    Michele at Angels Bark

  18. One that got me in trouble once...I learned a lot of vintage pop songs from Jim Reeves' records, and was scolded for mis-hearing (and mentally mis-punctuating) "Roses Are Red." I heard

    "Roses are red, my love,
    Violets are blue,
    Sugar is sweet, my love,
    But not...May God bless you."

    I honestly thought that was the way the song went.

    The last two lines are of course

    "Sugar is sweet, my love...
    Good luck! May God bless you."

  19. It's always funny to find out the 'real' lyrics when you think they've been something else forever. ;) Love all your song choices!


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