Did I Hear That Right?

Possibly, but if not, don’t despair. What you thought you heard might be a genuine mondegreen!
Mondegreen: A misheard word or words in a song. A very famous mondegreen, and one that had a lot of people fooled, was in a Jimi Hendrix song. The line is “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” but it was widely misheard as “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” Hendrix knew the line was easily misinterpreted, but it didn’t bother him. In fact, during live performances, he would sing the line and pretend to smooch one of his bandmates.
The etymology of this word is in itself interesting. In 1954, American writer Sylvia Wright coined this term in an essay in Harper’s. She recalled how, as a child, she had enjoyed the ancient Scotch ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’ Murray” but had misunderstood the line “They have slain the Earl o’ Murray and laid him on the Green.” She thought it was “They have slain the Earl o’ Murray and Lady Mondegreen” and wondered who poor Lady Mondegreen was.
And so, out of this child’s mistake, a new word was born! Not only that, but a world of fun and intrigue! A whole new pastime! here is the largest and best collection of mondegreens I’ve ever seen. You could spend hours, days, weeks, perusing the often-hilarious mondegreens that readers of the site have submitted. It would appear that no band or song is too obscure to fall victim to “mishearance.”
I have a couple of modest mondegreens of my own, which I’ll share here:

In the Steve Winwood song “Higher Love,” there’s a line about “facing my fears.” I heard this originally as “bracing my beard.”
In “Wait For It” by Howard Jones, I thought the chorus “Wait for it, wait for it, give it some time” was really “Weissmuller, Weissmuller, do it sometime.” I should mention that at the time, I was only about twelve and didn’t know who Johnny Weissmuller was, that’s just how the words sounded to me.
And in “Throwing It All Away” by Genesis, I couldn’t make out the line “Calling after me.” It wasn’t till I was an adult and knew what the line was that I realized that what it most sounded like was “Colonoscopy.” Again, I was only a child when the song was popular (about ten, maybe) and wouldn’t have known what a colonoscopy was, but when I did know, it seemed obvious. Are those two last examples more properly called “retrograde mondegreens?”

A footnote: the site I have linked above also has a huge section of song parodies submitted by readers. Seriously funny stuff. Often quite off-color, sometimes very amateurish, but always entertaining.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: