In the interest of expanding our vocabularies, I present to you the Word of the Day: Mondegreen.
A mondegreen is defined as a misinterpretation of a phrase due to homophony. In regular English, that means misunderstanding spoken (or sung) words because they sound like something else.
Which brings me to my topic, misunderstood song lyrics. Very popular songs become hilarious when well-intentioned people simply get the words wrong. We’ve all heard the Jimmy Hendrix classic line, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”
I have always loved Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, but let’s be honest, back in the day he didn’t always effectively enunciate his words. For the line, I may sink a little drink and shout out “She’s with me!”, I always thought it was Have a little drink and shout out, “Lemonade!” The first time he heard me sing that, Mr. R. laughed so hard he nearly lost proper bladder and bowel function.
We spent a whole evening laughing together about all the songs we’ve gotten wrong, or heard other people get wrong. For example, in the sixties, Johnny Rivers had a song, Secret Agent Man. Mr. R. admitted that he thought the title was Secret Asian Man. He was also a huge fan of that Aerosmith song, Doodle Lucky Lady.
Mr. R. works with a lot of twenty-somethings in the news business. Yeah, they hire them while they still know everything. Anyhoo, there was the darlin’ who insisted that in the 1985 song, Paul Young sang Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you. There was an argument with a coworker about a popular song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. She was certain that it was called Big Black Train to Georgia. Google came to the rescue on that one.
Now Mr. R. often sings the wrong lyrics on purpose for laughs. “Any song, any time, anywhere,” he says. I’ll share some examples from his holiday repertoire. Dedicated to one of his co-workers is the immortal Have Yourself a Larry Little Christmas. And you’ll undoubtedly recognize the timeless Christmas classic, I stuck my finger in her rump-pu-pum-pum.
I’ll leave you with the link to a hilarious A-Z list of misheard lyrics. I triple-dog-dare you not to laugh.