What lyrics have you misheard?

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My favorites are these:

"Big old Jed had a light on." (Big old jet airliner, by the Steve Miller band.)

"There's a baboon on the right." (There's a bad moon on the rise, by Creedence Clearwater Revival.)

We used to go see a local band that did a song with the lyric, "Now that you're leaving I've got time on my hands." For the longest time I thought the line was, "Now that you're leaving I've got [insert icky word for semen which I can't bring myself to type just in case some of you really don't want to read it] on my hands." I thought it was a song about a guy whose girlfriend left him, so he had to whack off all the time. It was very sad and touching until I figured out the real lyrics.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000


I never got the big old jet thing until just now! I just never had any clue what he was singing, and didn't try to figure it out.

You know that song they play on classic rock stations that goes something like, "don't break me doooooownnnnn.... Bruce!" Now, what are they really singing? I've never gotten that one.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

You know the Juice Newton song Angel of the Morning? "Just call me the angel of the morning, just brush my cheek before you leave me". Until about a month ago I thought it was "Just wipe my feet before you leave me"

Also, my dad only found out two years ago that Orientar isn't a place. (where the three kings are from.)

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Not me. But a friend of a friend always thought "Smoke on the Water" was "Old Cousin Walter."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

That Beatles song - "Sunday monkey something something something - my Michelle".

From the 69th street Bridge Song - I thought it was "Like, I love you" instead of "Life, I love you". I'm from California, we say things like that.

Also I thought it was "Just gimme the knife" rather than "Just gimme the night."

Another Creedence song that friends heard wrong: "You don't need a pinhead just to hang around."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I thought the Aerosmith song "Love In An Elevator" was called "Lovin' It in La Vita". I guess I thought La Vita was a town in California.

I thought the Guns & Roses song "Paradise City" was "Very Last City" -- "Take me down to the very last city..." I think a lot of people had that one though.

My mom thought the lyrics to "What A Feeling (Flashdance)" said "Take your pants down and make it happen" instead of "Take your passion and make it happen", which I guess aren't that different.

Also from my mom: she thought the song "New Attitude" was called "New Pair of Shoes". I have no idea why.

My favorite is from my college roommate. She thought the Ace of Base song "All She Wants" went "All that she wants is another wonder." It doesn't even sound right, and it makes no sense.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Do lyrics that you mishear on purpose count?

The Baltimore Orioles have had an awful bullpen for years, and a couple of years ago my brother and went to a game where the O's blew, like, a five-run lead in the final inning. During one of the many pitching changes the sound guy played some Chumbawuba, and ever since we've sung the chorus to Tubthumping as "pissing the ninth away" instead of "pissing the night away." Since Baltimore's bullpen is still terrible, we use that line a lot.

Maybe you had to be there?

A couple of legitimate mondegreens (and please, God, let the tags work...):

"You strut your ass to wear as a suicide blond." (Building a Mystery by Sara McLachlan
"I'd like to keep my jeans dry today."(No Rain by Blind Melon. I was like, "Well, then don't wear them in the first place if you're so worried about bad weather.)
"Soiled from head to toe."(Loser by Beck. If you heard "Soy un perdidor" as the correct lyrics on the first try, more power to you. We spent hours in college trying to figure out what he was saying.)

And about nine million more.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

The classic song "American Pie" has had a very difficult time for the last year or so, between Madonna, Weird Al and the movie-of-the-same- name, but when some good weblogger linked to a page analyzing the lyrics, I was delighted to find that, for the last 20-some years, I had CORRECTLY understood almost every word (and cosistantly interpreted most of them), except for one I could never figure out: "We sang 'Dirt Is In The Dark'"... After spending most of my adult life searching for a reference to a rock song titled "Dirt Is In The Dark", I discovered it was supposed to be "We sang DIRGES IN THE DARK." And that was the day the music caught a bad cold...

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Junior high!

One of my friends thought I was wacko for loving Madonna, who sang about material boys: "Only boys that save their panties make my rainy day."

] Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumors: "Girl of 16, whole life ahead of her found new life in Jesus Christ, Didn't find God (supposed to say hit by a car), ended up on a life support machine..." I was always wondering how she found Jesus but not god, and why she would end up on a life support machine just from not finding god.

Jefferson's theme song: "well we're moving on up, to the sky, to a deluxe apartment in the sky" I always thought the songwriters were dumb and couldnt' think of a rhyme for sky (now I know it's 'east side.')

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Baboon? Beth, it's "there's a bathroom on the right," I thought everybody knew that ... Billy Idol's not really singing "Eyes without a face," it's "howsabout a date?" My dear friend Ann taught me that one. "Let my love open the door" sounds exactly like "Let Milo open the door." Lyrics are one thing, but in high school, I always insisted there was a cow mooing in the background of REO Speedwagon's "Candle in the Window." It was my first boyfriend's and my song back when we were 16. Aack. How embarrassing to admit that. He's gone, but you know, everytime I hear that song, I make everyone else shut up and listen for the damn cow. So far I'm the only one who can hear it.

Get your daily dose of Web weirdness at Pop Culture Junk Mail.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I heard: "Blinded by the light! Racked up like a douche - "

It's actually: "Blinded by the light! Revved up like a deuce - "

I heard: "Does she speak Gaelic like me?" (Alanis)

It's actually: "Does she speak eloquently?"

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

From the Christmas carol 'Silent Night'

Round yon virgin, mother and child

I always thought that they meant she was fat, like yon was another word for plump or something.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I just found out recently that Steven Tyler wasn't really singing, "I'm alone, yeah I'm another fuckin face tonight." (Aerosmith, "Angel")

And I always thought it was, "that's why I say amen nation" (Filter, "Hey Man, Nice Shot").

I'm a dork.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

My brother and I always thought that Billy Idol song said "Your eyes are out of place" instead of "eyes without a face." Heh.

I was just listening to The Clash yesterday, and it still sounds to me like they're singing something about Wheaties (in "London Calling"). I have no idea what the actual lyrics are, but it sounds like something about Wheaties.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Kim, I'm SO glad I'm not the only person who thought that Flashdance was about mooning people! "Take your pants down!"

Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers," I always think that the bridge is, "She's. So. Fuck-ing nice."

For some reason, I thought Chumbawumba's lyrics were, "I get knocked down! But LIKE A RUBBER BAND, you're never gonna keep me down!" (It's, "But I get up again...") I have no idea why I thought rubber bands were so resilient.

From Grease, I was one of the many who thought it was, "I've got SHOES! They're made of PLYWOOD!" ("I've got CHILLS! They're MULTIPLYING!") from "You're the One That I Want." (Which I called, "You're the What that I What?" for a long time.)

Also from "Grease," from "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," I thought that one of the lines was, "Would you pull that crap with a net?" ("Would you pull that crap with Annette?") I had the most disturbing visuals of digging around in a sewer with a butterfly net.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Gael: I heard the moo. But I think the song is called "Can't Fight This Feeling". Not that I like REO, or that I've seen them in concert. Twice.

I'll be leaving now.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Oh! Oh! And a blast from the 80's:

"The CHAIR is not my son!" -- Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson.

Talk about screwed up, did Papa Jackson tell him that's where furniture came from?

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

There's a Pearl Jam song with a lyric that is repeated many times, but I still have no idea what's being sung. My best guesses are "Vietnamese spoken" or "Viennese boyfriend." Can anybody enlighten me?

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Patrick, I thought I heard the same thing on "Look at Me". I'm not sure when I figured it out, but it was many, many years.

My best friend Jennifer used to love the Simon and Garfunkle song, "For Emily, Where Ever I May Find Her" because she thought Art sang "In fields of Jennifer and lamplight." The word is juniper.

Her dad misheard John Lennon's lyric "Nobody told me there'd be days like these" as "Nobody told me there'd be dyslexies".

And I thought the Bangles song "Our Lips Are Sealed" was "Honest, Cecile."

I know there have been others, but that's all I can remember right now.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Philip, I believe that would be "Jeremy spoke in ..." as in "Jeremy spoke in class today."

My boyfriend's least favorite song of the nineties.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Robyn -- thank you for clearing up the 'Blinded by the Light' mystery. I always thought the line was: "Jacked up like a Deux-chevaux" -- although what small, french cars have to do with the song, I had no clue;)

And Chumbawumba definitely needs to win an award for incomprehensible lyrics:

I went around for a year singing "I got no doubt! But I get up again .." until one day for some reason the "knocked-down-get-up-again" logic clicked and man did I ever feel DUMB.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

That "do you love me song" by the Contours..I remember it from Dirty Dancing

There is one line " i can mashed potato"

I always thought it was " i can masturbate her"

I never sang it though so never embarrassed myself. I was so shocked that they would put such a dirty line in a song. Of course I was 16 or so.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

a girl i went to high school with insisted that "i get knocked down, but i get up again" (chumbawamba) was "i got no time, turn up the radio."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

stepping out from my lurking habits to ask: if it's not actually "I'd like to keep my jeans dry today" (No Rain by Blind Melon), then what is the line?

One that was explained, very patiently to me, was from "turn around...bright eyes" -- the actual line is something along the lines of "i'm like a powder keg and you're giving off sparks" i cannot even remember now what it was i thought it was, but it was way, way off...

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

That site I linked to today has some of those Bonnie Tyler lyrics. Was one of these your version?

we're living in a poltergeist and giving off sparks
we're living in a boat and gag and geared up raw
we're living in a castle and it's giving us marks
we're living in a powder cake and giving up stuff

I never understood that song, but boy, did I think it was Tragic and Romantic when I was 14. I think the title is "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Oh, and the correct lyrics are "we're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

*Raises hand* ok here are my contributions to the duh fund:

It's not fair to deny me, of the CROSS-EYED BEAR that u gave to me, -Alanis Morissette (you outta know) I thought her ex-lover gave her a gift she didn't like...so she sang about it.

I don't have the heart to hurt you, It's the NASTY I wanna do. -Michael Bolten I think (I don't have the heart)I can't even explain how I came up with that one

And for the looongest time I thought Sugar Ray was singing about Captain Morgan's Rum, in their "Every Morining" song.


-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

Oh man, I'm giggling uncontrollably here... I always heard 'racked up like a douche' too - even after reading what they were, I still do.

The other one I can't get my brain to hear right even though I know better is "I Believe in Miracles" - I hear "I believe in miracles - wear your bra!". It's really "Where ya from?"

My mother embarrassed me to death by misunderstanding (not mishearing) the song Shake Your Booty. She turned to another mother and they proceeded to have a long loud discussions in front of our friends about what kind of dumb song was that and why would someone want to shake baby booties??

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I'm laughing here, too, at "Jacked up like a Deux-chevaux".

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

An old boyfriend thought that the chorus to the Juliana Hatfield song "I Got No Idols" went like "I got no eyeballs."

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

"Some people call me Mauuu-rice... 'cos I speak of the octopus of lo-ove..."
The Joker. Steve Miller Band. I know it says pompetus, but that's just not as funny.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2000

I thought the Blind Melon song was saying "I'd like to keep my cheese dry today." Who the hell wants to eat wet cheese? Blech!

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

What does 'pompetus' mean anyway ? I think I thought it was 'poppodums' or 'properties' when I first heard that song ?

Ok..the funniest misheard lyrics I know of was my boyfriend singing at the top of his lungs 'I want to praise you like a shoe' (Fat Boy Slim, praise you).

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

I just read these whilst eating stir fry - there is rice all over my desk from spluttering with mirth... my faves are:

'Young girls with eyes like potatoes (pesaetas)' - Isla Bonita - Madonna and ... 'I just died in your arms tonight, must have been some kind of cheese' also... 'I wear goggles when you are not here' ( my world crumbles when you are not here)- Macy Gray

and finally ..

'Momma she had constipation' (complications) - Lilles of the Valley David Byrne.

oh and everyone knows ' my ears are alight' (My Israelite) Desmond Decker....!!!!!!!

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

Ok, this one is my sister's fault, since she listened to the song first and told me about it. Now I can't hear it any other way. Dar Williams has a song about the fifties and splitting the atom called "The Great Unknown". Or, if you listen to Nora, "The Freedom Gnome". It truly sounds like that when she sings it. Nora has decided that the Freedom Gnome is a little guy (with the beard and everything) who carries some freedom in a sack over his shoulder and brings it to people. Sort of like the Tooth Fairy, only without a trade. The song is hilarious to listen to if you hear it this way: "You can look, but you can't fathom, it's the Freedom Gnome" makes more sense than you'd expect, but my favourite is "Now you've built it, now it's ticking, it's the Freedom Gnome". Ah, the explosive potential of freedom.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

My friends brother used think Madonna's "Dress You Up in My Love" was "Dress you up in NYLONS" Heh.

And til this day, I have to ask: What the hell is that Manfred Mann lyric? I still think he's saying "wrapped up in a douche" and I proudly sing it at the top of my lungs. Help me.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

Oops, "revved up like a deuce" THANK YOU. Now, if I actually remember to sing that is a whole other forum....

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

The B-52s had a minor hit in the late 80's called "The Deadbeat Club." The first fifty times I heard it, I thought the refrain was, "We'll dance in a garden of torches in the rain." I loved that line. It conjured up images of a commitment to take the sweet things in life by force if necessary, and brave, but not over-serious, resistance against inevitable fate. It was an important message to me at the time.

I have never been so disappointed as I was when I figured out (from the video) that the lyric is "We'll dance in the garden in torn sheets in the rain." Blah. I mean, where's the nicely modulated angst in THAT?

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

When I was in college, I had a friend from India. He was soooo Balki from Perfect Strangers. Anyhow, we were all at a dorm party one night and he said, "Hey, put on that Kool-Aid song." We all looked at each other dazed and confused. I mean, what could he possibly be wanting to hear!!!

After some discussion, he told us that he thought it was a Led Zepplin song. Still, we couldn't figure what he wanted. Finally, he agreed to sing a little bit of it. I think we were ALL doubled over laughing uncontrolably when he belted out "You need Kool-Aid, baby I'm not foolin'" rather than "You need coolin', baby, I'm not foolin'" for the start of Whole Lotta Love.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

All my colleagues in paleontology hear "With the Burgess Shale I share this lonely view" instead of "with the birds..." in that Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

There's a song that goes "Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly." I always thought it was "you and me and Leslie."

The words to "Michelle" are French -- I think they're "Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble." (I don't speak French but I sort of remember seeing the lyrics written).

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

I was waiting in the drive-through line at the bank today, and Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" (?) came on, and all through the 80s, I thought that was just a terribly naughty song because he was singing, "Her breasts keep shining in the sun."

I realized today, it's her brown skin shining in the sun. Duh.

My husband swears that in 10,000 Maniacs' cover of "Because the Night" Natalie Merchant is singing, "They way I feel, I'm the Orkin Man!" (It's under your command I swear it is.)

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

[I never understood that song, but boy, did I think it was Tragic and Romantic when I was 14. I think the title is "Total Eclipse of the Heart." -- Beth (beth@xeney.com), May 04, 2000. ]

FOURTEEN!?!? This song was my prom theme in 1994! Yeah, I know, you're wondering what kinda theme you could get out of that song. They didn't even use the title. Our prom theme was "Forever's gonna start tonight". Sounds like a total ploy for loss of virginity.


-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

There's some Madonna song, "La Isa Bonita" maybe? Anyway, I have no idea what the actual lyrics are, but I'm pretty sure the song doesn't start out:

"Last night I slept with some dago," which I swear to god is what it sounds like to me.

Also, nothing for me will ever beat the time my little sister was singing along with the Beatles:

"Ba, ba ba, ba ba ba ba! ba ba ba ba! Hey Jude!"

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

Oh yeah, I thought that Young Rascals song was "you and me and Leslie" too. Who the heck was Leslie?

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

"Last night I slept with some dago,"

(It's "last night I dreamt of San Pedro.")

-- Anonymous, May 05, 2000

There was this song that I heard all the time that had the line "you aways wonder why I werf around" and I for the life of me couldn't figure out what "werf around" meant. A long time later, I learned that the line was "you always wonder why I wear a frown" Oops

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

This is the most hilarious forum I've seen here for a while. It was one of the members from Joy Divisionmay have been Ian Curtiswho said that when you mishear a lyric and then discover what it really is, it's never as good, and he wasn't far off. These are mine:

* "1983" by Jimi Hendrix, line near the end goes "I can hear Atlantis full of cheer". Nine years ago I used to think it was "I can hear that man is full of shit".

* "Low Self-Opinion" by the Rollins Band, in the last section which starts "If you could see the you that I see" and ends with our Hank repeating the words (?) "low s. o.". Until a few weeks ago I used to think he was saying "No asshole" (i.e. "not the asshole you think you are", not "you have no bottom"). I like "no asshole" better.

But my favourite example is one I read about in Q magazine a few years ago, someone had written in to ask if, at the end of the operatic bit in "Bohemian Rhapsody", they really sing "Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard". We should all know, of course, that the real line is "Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me-e-ee, for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE"whoops, got carried away there, sorrybut you just have to love the sideboard image, don't you? If I had any musical talent I'd have written a song called "Beelzebub Has A Devil For A Sideboard" as soon as I'd read it

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

Oh -- about that recent Red Hot Chili Peppers hit. What is the refrain? "With the [birds of shame? / birds I've seen? / burned up shed?] it's a lonely view."

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

Savage Garden's "The Animal Song": I heard "I want to live! Live cannonballs!" which made even less sense than what my fiance heard: "I want to live like cannibals!" We didn't figure it out until we heard the song's title announced, and even then it took us a while. So I guess it's "I want to live like animals" even though I thought the cannibal thing was pretty funny myself...

Oh, and "This is the dawn of the Age of Aquarius"? I had my mom totally convinced the song was entitled "Ode to a mosquito" and that the first line was "This is the dawn of the age of Malaria"

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

Oh, I forgot....Tom, the refrain is "With the birds I share this lonely view". Don't worry, I had it all hashed up too, until I heard what the real lyrics were on the radio.

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

Now I can't remember what I thought the chorus of that Go-gos song someone mentioned above was, but I know that to learn "our lips are sealed" was a revelation.

How about when you know what the lyrics are but you cannot hear what's on the liner notes in the song? Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief" from Imperial Bedroom has these two lines: "Id blame it all on Californias fault / Be locked in Genevas deepest vault" and I have *never*, after listening to that song for 15 years now, been able to hear that.

One of the Grateful Dead's most famous mondegreen's is from "Truckin'": but "flashing my keys out on Main Street" is "flashing marquees out on Main Street." I always heard that right, though, and I knew some French before I heard "Games without Frontiers" so I recognized "jeux sans frontieres" correctly too. And we had to translate the lines from "Michelle" as well as "J'ais toujours faim de toi" (Police, "Hungry for You," Ghost in the Machine). But that Manfred Mann "Blinded by the Light"--count me in with the "douche" contingent. Deuce--who knew?

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2000

someone asked way up there what the blind lyrics "keep my cheese dry today" actually says...

It's cheeks! Keep my cheeks dry today! :)

Now, to which cheeks he is referring is still up for debate...

I thought that B-52 song said dance in the garden of torchies in the rain, too... never knew what torchies were, but now that I know it says torn sheets, that is just not romantic...

-- Anonymous, May 07, 2000

Oh, CHEEKS! Now it makes sense!

-- Anonymous, May 07, 2000

I thought of some other things the Red Hot Chili Peppers might be singing: "With the [burdens of shame] it's a lonely view."

Or "With the [burden I've shed] it's a lonely view."

or maybe "With the [burned-out shell] it's a lonely view."

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

-- Anonymous, May 07, 2000

The RHCP song goes "With birds I share this lonely view." My girlfriend and I cheated and looked it up in the liner notes.

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2000

"With the bird shit there it's a loooonley vieeeeew!" No seriously, that's what I heard the first time.

Oh, and that Chumbawumba song, during that part where it goes something like "He takes a whiskey drink, he takes a cider drink. He takes a *something* drink, he takes a brandy drink" (at least that's sorta how it goes if memory serves...) Then, in the next part, there's a few women in the background singing "kissin' the night away...kissin' the night away" over and over. Okay, my fiance and I both thought that with all those drinks he was having, old Danny boy was surely "pissin' the night away..."

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2000

Ri - from memory, the 'something' drink is a vodka drink.

And it is indeed 'pissing the night away', not 'kissing the night away'. That band has made a long career of singing crap songs which try very hard to be shocking.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

When I was three I used to sing, "Ra, Ra, Rasputin, lover of the recipe." (instead of "of the Russian Queen.") I still think it makes just as much sense.

Joanne (Parietal Pericardium)

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

I have spent at least the last eighteen years hoping to decipher a line from Pat Benatar's "We Belong to the Night." Oh, I'm not obsessed enough to buy the album and see if the liner notes have the lyric, but every time it comes up on the radio, I turn up the volume and listen close to the beginning of the third verse.

For all the world, it sounds to me like "Lie still and watch the phallic gleam." I suppose that it's more likely to be "fire gleam," but maybe not . . .

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

Jan, I am still laughing over, "last night I slept with some dago".


Oh and regarding Total Eclipse of The Heart, I owned the 45, and I use to sing, "we're living in a polly gag and givin us sparks".

Whatever. And how old am I, talking about 45s?

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

Actually, I think the Chumbawumba folks... I'm fairly certain sing about a LAGER drink. I've never heard the Brandy drink.

He takes a whiskey drink,
He takes a vodka drink,
He takes a cider drink,
He takes a lager drink,
He sings the songs that remind him of the best times,
He sings the songs that remind him of the worst times

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

Jolene beat me to the post about the lager drink.

I don't find "pissing the night away" shocking - I thought it was clever to use it to mean both literally pissing, and wasting the evening.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

I am calling my fiance right now and tell him about the pissing thing...that's too funny. Of course, it makes much more sense, I just didn't think anyone would actually do it. Heh heh...

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2000

Nah, that's the point Lizzie - they try very hard to be shocking. But they're just sad instead.

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2000

What can I say, I just like "Tubthumping."

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2000

I was in the car with my mother, and that Sugar Ray song came on, the one that goes "Every morning there's a halo...blah blah blah." There's one line that says, "Love can take you hostage, wanna do it again" (or something like that). Well, my mom was appalled when she heard them sing "Love can make you hot bitch, wanna do it again?"

-- Anonymous, June 15, 2000

I have some very embarassing misunderstandings when it comes to song lyrics

For years I thought it was "Devil with a toupee on" instead of "Devil with a blue dress on." Imagine the change in meaning.

I thought "Little Red Corvette" was "Paying the Rent Colette."

and, last but not least, I thought Billy Joel (Only the Good Die Young) was singing "Epaulets in the sun", instead of "Never lets in the sun."

-- Anonymous, April 03, 2001

When I was a child my sister had me convinced that the lyrics to a popular Prince song went "I was dreaming, I was wild, I was swiming in my underpants" I thought it was a song about wetting the bed. The real lyrics are " I was dreaming when I wrote this so sue me if I go to fast" from the song Party like it's 1999.

-- Anonymous, June 23, 2001

Beth (way up at the top)
"We used to go see a local band that did a song with the lyric, "Now that you're leaving I've got time on my hands." For the longest time I thought the line was, "Now that you're leaving I've got [insert icky word for semen which I can't bring myself to type just in case some of you really don't want to read it] on my hands." I thought it was a song about a guy whose girlfriend left him, so he had to whack off all the time. It was very sad and touching until I figured out the real lyrics. "

This reminds of the Weird Al Yancovic song that includes the lyrics:
Cos I'm stranded all alone at the gas station of love
And I have to use the self-service pumps

-- Anonymous, June 24, 2001

One day in the car, my friend's mother (who worked in a law office) was singing along to the Culture Club song "I'll tell your lawyer" when it came on the radio. ("I'll tumble for you" were the actual lyrics.)

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

Man. Thank you to whoever bumped this one back up, because it's still funny. Y'all are ridiculous, you know that?

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

This is probably apocryphal, but "Excuse me, while I kiss the sky." is heard as, "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy." I cracked up when I first heard this interpretation.

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2001

I was singing along with Fleetwood Mac the other day and said to my friends, "I've always thought that a "one-winged dove" was a disturbing image."

They laughed and laughed and laughed and I was forced to do the same.

The song is "Edge of Seventeen" and the correct lyric is "Just like the white winged dove".

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2001

This is all so hysterical.

My mom thought the song Kokomo included the line, "Your mom's a rotten sneak!" The actual line is "Mon Saurat mystique"

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

Hey, I thought that Fleetwood Mac song had the words "one winged dove" as well.

I never posted this before because it's a little embarrassing and almost unbelievable, but I used to sing along to AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap with words as follows:

Correct words:
Dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap

Words I sang:
Little Bo Peep in her jungle jeep

I felt rather foolish when I finally figured it out.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

Regarding the Kokomo song: I'm betting it was Montserrat, Mustique, as both of those are islands people go to on vacation, which is what the song is about.

that is all.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

Hmmm, here are the ones I remember:

There's a bathroom on the right (already noted, but this is a classic)

One toad over the line (sweet Jesus)

Ducks in the wind (all we are is ducks in the wind...)

You can't hide in Waimea (pronounced "why-am-I") = you can't hide your lyin' eyes.

But, how come I only misunderstood lyrics in the seventies?

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

Someone earlier in thread talked about the "Games without Frontiers" French intro--well, until I read that, I used to think the lyrics said "She's so popular" (instead of "jeux sans frontieres"). Another one (not as bad) was "Anne-Marie's an elephant" (instead of "tambourines and elephants" from CCR's 'Out my Back Door').

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2001

"Big ol Jed had a light on" makes me laugh every time I read it.

I just remembered an example of the other way 'round ... back when the Spice Girls song about what she really, really wants came out, I kept hearing the last line of the refrain as "I really really really wanna zig a zig ah." And I thought, no, there must be some words there, they're not really saying "zig a zig ah."

And then I saw the lyrics printed, and indeed, they were.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2001


No, really, stop, y'all. I know better than to pull up this thread at this time of night. The cat's even hiding his face under his pillow because of my racket.

I wish I could say I originated this, and some of you probably saw it over in a similar discussion on the Squishy forums, but:

Shit! I'm in gum! (Shoulda been gone) -- "Oh Sherry," Steve Perry

This actually caused my sister to run off the road one morning when the song came on the oldies station she listens to. She said she was laughing so hard she couldn't see.

Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't have posted it, then. Wear your seat belts.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

I obviously haven't read this thread closely enough. Way back in May, before Chandra Levy even turned up missing and I'd never heard the name Condit, Clementine asked: You know that song they play on classic rock stations that goes something like, "don't break me doooooownnnnn.... Bruce!" Now, what are they really singing? I've never gotten that one.

I figured someone would have answered that, but it looks like no one did. It's ELO, and the words are "Don't bring me down ... groos." Groos of course is not really a word, just a nonsense syllable thrown in for the sound.

Then Patrick, on the same day in May, spoke of mishearing a Michael Jackson lyric as "The CHAIR is not my son!" I always heard that as "But Jan is not my son," until I looked it up.

The next day, Tom Dean lamented finding out the actual lyric to a B- 52s song: "I have never been so disappointed as I was when I figured out (from the video) that the lyric is 'We'll dance in the garden in torn sheets in the rain.' Blah. I mean, where's the nicely modulated angst in THAT?" I happen to think it's a fine lyric as it is, but it reminded me of an anecdote about another Athens, Ga., band, a little quartet (now trio) you may have heard of called REM. Back in the old days when Michael Stipe prided himself on mumbling his lyrics, a fan told him he thought one line was "We could gather through our fear." Stipe said no, it's "We could gather, throw a fit, but what you said is probably better." He then added that it was also a better mishearing than another fan who had it as "We could gather, throw up beer."

Lisa Houlihan said: Now I can't remember what I thought the chorus of that Go-gos song someone mentioned above was, but I know that to learn "our lips are sealed" was a revelation. I used to mishear that as "As long as I see you." Since the verses were about people talking and "damning lies, that's no surprise," it made sense ... she doesn't care what people say, "as long as I see you."

Jacke said of ChumbaWumba: And it is indeed 'pissing the night away', not 'kissing the night away'. That band has made a long career of singing crap songs which try very hard to be shocking. I'm no fan of the band, but I always thought they used "pissing" in the England/Australia sense of drinking, which probably wouldn't be shocking to non-US English-speakers.

And finally, not related to any other posts, I had a flash memory while writing this of driving somewhere with a friend around about 1981 or 1982, and talking about rock lyrics. Said friend was somewhat older than me and not much in touch with current music at the time, and commented that most of the songs from his time used a lot of nonsense words. I said they don't do that anymore, and turned on the radio just in time to hear The Police sing "Da do do do do, da da da da."

Point taken.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

Doh! I just remembered a recent one. That song "Drops of Jupiter" by Train ... the actual lyric is "And heaven is over-rated." Until I looked it up, I was hearing "Van Halen is over-rated."

Personally, I kinda like my version better.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

This is entirely off topic, and my headache may be the one typing for me, but I fucking hate that Drops of Jupiter song. I hate it. It's the most ridiculously overwritten, faux-poetic, falsely poignant piece of nonsensical crap I've ever had to suffer through in my entire life.

You can picture the songwriter all bloody proud of himself that he wrote something as gorgeous and softly evocative as "she acts like summer and walks like rain" thinking he's all poetic, when, you know, in truth? It means fucking nothing. At all. It's nonsense. It's deeply annoying. I hate him, I hate his stupid "she listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey" bullshit (which, again, means nothing and is totally ridiculous), and I hate Train.

Thank you.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Michael's version, on the other hand, sounds like a hell of a song.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Yeah. My favorite part of Michael's version is the bit right at the beginning, where it goes
Van Halen stinks up the atmosphere
The band gets stupider and they have bad hair
They act like teenagers and they walk like they just had really painful proctology exams. Or, you know, something like that. I need to take a nap, please.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I was listening to a Credence Clearwater Revival cd, and not having much knowledge in the way of CCR except that I can't stand John Fogerty's voice, I replayed one song over and over, trying to figure out the lyrics.

The best I could make of it was, "Oh Lord, stuck in an old fryin' pan." I was pretty sure I was wrong about that. Turns out it's the song "Lodi". As in, "Oh Lord, stuck inside of Lodi again."

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Jen ... for a song you hate, you sure know it pretty well. Hell, other than the one lyric I (mis)quoted, I couldn't recite a single line of that song. (Cos I hate it too, so I just go to another station or pop in a CD when it starts to play.)

Actually, that's not entirely true ... I do remember the "did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?" line. But that's it.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Yes, well, know thine enemy, Micheal.

Actually, I looked up the lyrics.

At the Spinal Tap show the other night, my boyfriend was singing really enthusiastically to "Big Bottoms." Like this - "Big bottoms, big bottoms, talk about butt flaps, my girl's got 'em!"

And later, he asked me what a butt flap is. I thanked him for the imagery.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001


Spinal Tap are playing out?

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Sublime - Doin Time

"what am i gonna be doin for a while, said i'm gonna play with myself"

actual lyrics:

"What am i gonna be doin for a wife, i guess i'll have to play it myself"

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Bill, holy crap, you just broke my heart. I always thought it was "What am I going to do for awhile? I guess I'll just play with myself." That funny Brandon guy. What a cut up!

David: I think I caught the last show of the tour, at the Beacon in New York. They were orginially only playing the left coast, and later added one more New York show, to my great delight. I'm still pissed I missed them at Carnegie Hall.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

um... who's Brandon?

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Strike "Brandon." I meant "Bradley." The former lead singer of Sublime. He overdosed on heroin a few years back, didn't he?

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

This thread has convinced me that on the new forum, I should let you guys vote for the threads you want archived. I was going to have everything automatically deleted, but I'd be sad if threads like this one disappeared. It still cracks me up.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Everytime I see something about the new forum, I get excited in a way that is usually only reserved for Christmas, but there's no advent calendar around here for me to pick off the days for when it really gets here.

I'm not complaining, just very anxious like a puppy who is so happy to see her owner she piddles on the floor.

Not that I'd piddle on your floor or forum...

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Oh, cool. I was thinking no one actually cared. Of course now I have to go back to feeling guilty. If I could actually *find* that list of topics I made up, that would be a start to getting the damn thing online.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Oh, and since I couldn't remember the Go-gos lyric, I remembered it: I heard "Our lips are sealed" as "How does it feel?" I think.

I remember a letter to the editor of the Hartford Courant complaining about unintellible song lyrics and how his daughter recently had corrected him from singing "I broke my leg" instead of the correct "I'm wide awake" from (I can't believe I'm not sure) the title track of Unforgettable Fire. Of course, I read this when I was in high school and--except for the Go-gos--exceptionally cool and practically perfect in every way, so there was much gnashing of teeth and ridicule about "I broke my leg." But honestly, that was a pretty stupid one (mistake, I mean, but his letter was probably pretty stupid too).

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Beth, if the new forum saves us from the recent contribution to the smut thread, bring it on! I just haven't wanted to pressure you about what is essentially a freebie.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

You mean you don't care how Bobby's ass smells? I found that post to be both touching and poignant.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Uh, you know that song "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi and how he's riding on a steel horse? Well, I've always heard it "On a dead horse I ride". My ex pointed out the ridiculousness of riding a dead horse, but I argued that is he's wanted dead or alive, his horse might well be dead. I lost that argument.

Oh, the aforementioned ex thought Squeeze was singing about "Pulling muscles for Michelle", not "Pulling mussels from a shell". He thought the song was about a skinny guy trying to impress some hot chick, so he was trying to bulk up, but failing.

More Chumbawumba, though this isn't mine: I get knocked down, but I'm an opera fan!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Yeah, Jen, Bradley did OD on heroin.. 6 months before the release of the cd that made him a star, ironically...

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Beth, I never knew the real lyrics, nor did I know that I didn't know them, until I read your original question today. I think I thought they were "Big ol' J in Carolina" when I was a kid.

My friend John, who is very very tall and very very in need of a woman who will find him the apple of her eye, misheard that Natalie Imbruglia line "the perfect sky is torn" as "the perfect guy is tall". I almost crashed the car when he starting singing it that way along to the radio, beaming, thinking that *someone* would like a guy of his height.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

I just discovered that I've been mishearing something lately. I thought, in "Bootylicious", they were singing "I don't think you're ready for this yet."

Apparently not. Because that would have, you know, made sense or something.(Jelly. Jelly?)

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Awhile ago.. Back when Lou Vega [I think that was his name] had that one song out it said; A little bit of monica in my life... and I always thought it was; A little bit of Mardi Gras in my life...

Until somone on a ubb corrected me..

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

Wow, I tried to read through every post and still didn't see the two that come to my mind.

One, in "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode, I thought that the line "Pleasures Remain / So Does the Pain" was "Pleasures Remain / Soldiers Burping."

And in "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive, I still think the link "I want some, want some" is "I want someone's son." At fourteen I thought it was the first overtly gay song I'd ever heard, and then a few years ago I looked up the lyrics and saw that it was actually "want some, want some." I still believe he's saying "someone's son" and that I'm not mishearing it.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Mid-1970s song by Chicago: "If you leave me now"

Actual lyric: "I just want you to stay"

My junior high friends and I heard: "I just fucked you today."

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I would like you all to know that since I have to keep reopening this thread, I've had that Steve Miller Band song stuck in my head all week, and I have officially rechristened Doc as "Big Old Jed."

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

VH1 is doing one of their "What's My 20?" countdowns tonight on Most frequently misheard lyrics. It'll be interesting to see how they compare.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2001

Mondegreens! Mondegreens for everyone! The Joker -- For decades, I thought it was "the Prophetess of Love". Bohemiam Rhapsody -- I though the Devil had a sidecar. Maggie May -- One of my friends heard "Steal my Daddy's clue, and make a living out of playing fool" but I'm pretty sure it's "Steal my Daddy's cue, and make a living out of playing pool"

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2001

Quotin' James Russell It was one of the members from Joy Division (may have been Ian Curtis) who said that when you mishear a lyric and then discover what it really is, it's never as good, and he wasn't far off. These are mine:

It was actually Hooky. I always thought "I would not complain of my wounded heart" (New Order, "Regret") was "I would not complain of my Unicard." A Unicard is a piece of plastic for which one must register in dry counties in order to buy alcohol in restaurants. I thought the damn cards were pretty stupid, too, so I was like, "Yeah! Go New Order!"

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

Oh my lord, I thought all these years that Stevie Nicks was singing "Just like the one-winged dove!" It seemed so tragic. What's poetic about a white-winged dove? Aren't they all white?

My most screwed-up misheard lyric is by Aerosmith. I did not figure it out until I saw them in concert last weekend, and I could actually read Steven Tyler's lips while he sang. I always heard, "Sing a- women, sing for the years, sing for the left, and sing volunteers..." I thought it had something to do with women's liberation back in the time the song was written, and that the "left" was the liberal faction with lots of volunteers backing it up. I had all these visions of women marching on a black and white newsreel set to an Aerosmith soundtrack. Although, I never could understand what it had to do with the rest of the song. It seemed kind of disjointed.

Then I have a misunderstood lyric. Elton John sings "love lies bleeding in my hands." I always heard it as "Love, lies, bleeding in my hands" as if there were love, there were lies, and then for some reason his hands were bleeding, too. I thought there was some sort of crucifiction analogy in there.

And then I have one question, to "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. I keep hearing "I can see you, your friends can shuttle in the sun." I know that can't be right, but I've been listening to that song since it was released and still can't figure it out.

And to everybody else, this is the most entertaining thread I have ever read! I've blown little bits of banana all over my monitor from trying to stifle my laughter here at the office.

-- Anonymous, August 15, 2001

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