Earlier this week, while chatting with a friend, I was introduced to the word/concept "mondegreen". Now, I consider myself rather savvy when it comes to words, but this was one I'd never heard of. My friend suggested this might be a fun topic for my blog. So here it is! And, by the way... Thanks Curtis!
According to wikipedia, a mondegreen is "the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony, in a way that yields a new meaning to the phrase." You can read more about the history and origin of the word by clicking the word mondegreen in the previous sentence. It's a rather interesting story.
Well, the "mishearing of a phrase" didn't immediately sound fascinating to me, but after reading the rest of the article, and also chatting again with the friend who suggested I look into the word, it became a pretty entertaining topic. I realized that I'd been the victim of mondegreens pretty often, normally in the form of mishearing lyrics to a popular song. (For what it's worth, I also realized that my husband is the master of the reverse-mondegreen... taking a well-known lyric and changing it around so that it sounds similar to the actual lyric but means something funny or nonsensical.)
For example, in the 1980's, Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet Album" was very popular. Of course, I owned the cassette tape. (I'm showing my age here, aren't I?) In the song "You Give Love a Bad Name", the opening lyrics are "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame, darlin' you give love a bad name." Until recently, I thought the lyrics were "Shot through the heart, and you're too vain, darlin' you give love a bad name." It wasn't until a contestant on a recent season of American Idol sang the song that I realized I'd had the lyrics wrong all this time.
In the early 90's, Garth Brooks exploded on to the country music scene with his song "Friends in Low Places". In the chorus of the song, he describes going to a local bar or hang out called "The Oasis" to drown his sorrows over a former love moving on with another man. The actual lyrics of the song are "I'm not big on social graces. Think I'll slip on down to The Oasis. Oh I've got friends in low places." The summer the song came out, a group of friends and I were sitting together, acting silly, singing that song. And one of my best friends said, "I just don't understand what salted raisins have to do with anything." We all looked at her like she'd lost her mind. Salted raisins? What in the world was she talking about? So she sang for us the line in the song she was referring to... "I'm not big on salted raisins. Think I'll slip on down to The Oasis. Oh I've got friends in low places." Of course, we all cracked up laughing!
After googling "misheard lyrics", I found several lists of hilarious mondegreens. Some of the more funny ones I'll post here. If you're inclined to read more, or just want some quick laughs, check out the website I used that lists the 100 Top Misheard Lyrics. Laugh and enjoy!
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
Actual Lyric: "Now bring us some figgy pudding."
Mondegreen: "Now bring us some friggin' pudding."
"Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.
Actual Lyric: "That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight losing my religion."
Mondegreen: "Let's pee in the corner. Let's pee in the spotlight losing my religion."
(Again... thanks Curtis!)
"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Actual Lyric: "There's a bad moon on the rise."
Mondegreen: "There's a bathroom on the right."
"Mysterious Ways" by U2
Actual Lyric: "She moves in mysterious ways."
Mondegreen: "Shamu the mysterious whale."
So now you know. Don't you all feel a bit more enriched now, knowing what a mondegreen is? Isn't it comforting to know there's a word for all those song lyrics you've misheard over the years? If you have some funny ones of your own, post them here! I'd love to read them and laugh with you!
(And once again... Thanks Curtis!)