What’s That Line?

I’ve loved music since before I can remember.  My earliest music memory was at the age of about six.  I remember standing inside my toy box, singing my favorite song at the time, which was I Like Dreaming.  Why I was standing in my toy box I don’t know, but I know that I knew all the words to that song.

Later, when I was about seven or eight, I remember sitting underneath the piano at my babysitter’s house, while the Styx song Come Sail Away was playing.  I sang all the words then too, and even understood their full meaning.  To this day, that song is one of my all-time favorites.

I’ve got well over 5,000 songs on my computer’s music library (not including classical music), and it’s not an exaggeration to say that I know every word to at least half of them.  Something about song lyrics has always grabbed me, and there have been many times when I’ve played a CD over and over again until I know every word, every inflection, and how long each note is held.  If it’s a song that I really like, but can’t quite figure out on my own–The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds comes to mind–I will actually look the words up online.

Because I am so diligent about knowing song lyrics, Craig often asks me “What’s the line?” when something comes on that he doesn’t know.  Or else he’ll sit there quietly and listen while I sing along with the song, and then say “That’s what they’re singing?”  Sometimes, however, he prefers to make me giggle by intentionally singing the wrong words . . . and sometimes, it’s not so intentional.

A mondegreen–or what I call lyric psychosis–is when you hear a song lyric wrong, because the words sound so similar to other words in your vocabulary.  It’s such a common thing, that Gavin Edwards (no, not the sports dude) has actually published four different books full of  misheard lyrics that he’s compiled from people he knew and other submissions from readers.  I’ve got two of the books, and can tell you I nearly bust a gut when I read them, so hilarious are the bungles.

But even someone like me–who loves knowing the lyrics so much–is susceptible to lyric psychosis.  While I never thought Mr. Hendrix sang “Scuse me while I kiss this guy,” I did at one point think the words to Manfred Mann’s Blinded By the Light were “wrapped up like a douche.”  It wasn’t until much later that I learned the real words.

I recently came across another song whose words I didn’t know; I didn’t even know what the actual title of the song was.  My original interpretation of the chorus to Boz Scaggs’ Lido Shuffle was:

Leo, whoa-oh-oh-oh
Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold
Peas porridge in the bowl

Once you’ve picked yourself back up off the floor, you can see that the actual lyrics are:

Lido, whoa-oh-oh-oh
He’s for the money, he’s for the show
Lido’s waitin for the go

Hey . . . I was pretty close on the first line!  😉

The entire time I was singing the wrong lyrics, I KNEW they weren’t right.  I mean, there’s only one song I know that talks about peas porridge, and I knew it wasn’t a classic rock hit originally written by Bruce Springsteen.  Unfortunately, now that I’ve looked up the words to Lido Shuffle, I gotta tell you that the song makes no more sense to me now than when I sang the wrong lyrics.  Plus, my version was funnier (apologies to all of you who won’t ever be able to hear the song again without my mondegreen version).

According to the Wikipedia page, a mondegreen can happen in any form of our language, and at any time, but it’s probably more noticeable in songs, because there are so many more people who know the same ones.

Okay, so I’ve given you one of my bungled lyrics . . . now it’s your turn.  Please share a song lyric that you sang wrong until you learned the right version.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    May 04, 2012 @ 08:45:47

    Oh, there are too many to list. I have never been into the lyrics. I can hum or imitate every nuance to any Styx guitar solo, but I don’t know the actual words to half of them. I have a different reaction to Mondegreen. If I don’t know the words, I don’t choose the nearest sounding word. I just make the same sounds with my mouth even if they are unintelligible. Let’s see if I can give an example. One of the songs I didn’t know was Styx’s “Too much time on my Hands”. There’s a line that actually says “Well, I’m a jet-fueled genius, I can solve the world’s problems…”.
    I would sing something like, “I’m a defuu benous, I can solve the world’s problems…”.


  2. Alyx Morgan
    May 04, 2012 @ 08:51:56

    LMAO! That’s even better! I don’t think I’ll be able to not hear “defuu benous” now. 😉


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