Sunday, March 12, 2006

Don't Come Around Hear No More

We all perceive sounds that aren’t there. Like bumps in the night, for example. Who hasn’t woken up to a creak or a squeak that seemed like an intruder down the hall?

It turns out that we are much more creative with our false hearing than that. And this trait comes out most in, of all things, the music we listen to every day.

I have often suspected that I wasn’t the only one to corrupt my favorite songs with incorrect lyrics, and now I have proof. Thanks to a hearing aid company’s research into “consonant loss,” an early step on the road to deafness, we now have a list of the most misheard lyrics in rock history.

Not surprisingly, the song at number one is Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” And I have to agree. I dare you to listen to the line that defined a generation, “Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” and NOT hear “Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

Number two is a bit less obvious, but equally understandable. I had never heard this one until I saw this survey, and now I can’t get the incorrect words out of my head. Paul McCartney sang that he wanted to be a “paperback writer” in the Beatles’ song of the same name … but apparently many people think he wants to “paint the black whiter.”

I’ve seen some other good ones in those misheard lyric desk calendars. One of my favorite artists of all time, Peter Gabriel, has had a few pop up there. In his 1980 track “Games Without Frontiers,” some folks seem to hear Kate Bush’s background vocals as “She’s so frumpy, yeah” instead of “Jeux sans frontiers.”

Seems strange, given that it’s just a translation of the title. But I’ll concede that one—the only French I knew upon my first exposure to the song involved fries, toast, or kissing. (Not all at once, I should make clear.)

Even funnier to me is one that I never considered, from the Gabriel hit “Shock the Monkey.” What do many listeners think he sings?

“Jacques the Monkey.” Why Pete would croon about a simian from Paris, I’ll never know.

Then again, I can't figure out why it makes MORE sense for him to sing about administering electrical charges to a chimpanzee. I have chosen to set that one aside and move on with my life.

Back to the hearing aid company survey, which uncovered another gem. There’s the line in Madonna's “Erotica” that fans somehow transform from "Erotic, erotic, put your hands all over my body" to "Bill Oddie, Bill Oddie, put your hands all over my body."

Note to William Oddie: Well done, my man … well done. End note.

But both this recent survey and the misheard lyrics calendar I have seen miss a couple of confusing lines that have troubled me since the 1980s. I blame “consonant loss” for my propensity to replace actual lyrics with these monstrosities:

Rod Stewart, “Crazy About Her.” Actual lyric: “I’d treat her with respect, not just a sex object, I ain’t that kind of guy.”

My lyric: “I’d treat her with respect, not with just sex—I checked, I ain’t that kind of guy.” I always thought it peculiar that Rod would need to verify that he wasn’t that type, but it didn’t trouble me enough to reconsider what I was hearing.

Don Henley, “The Boys of Summer.” Actual lyric: “I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun.”

My lyric: “I can see you, your bras get shattered in the sun.” The mechanism by which solar rays obliterated brassieres, oddly, never concerned me.

Perhaps the survey is right. Maybe we mishear these lines because consonants are more difficult to pick up than vowels. At least this would explain an undeniable fact about the music industry.

There ain’t many pop stars from Bosnia.


At March 12, 2006 1:37 PM, Blogger LostInTX replied to my musings ...

I think mine is one of the cheesiest and I'm embarassed posting it.. but I can't leave it out.

Wham's "Last Christmas:
Actual lyrics- This Christmas, to save me from tears I'll give it to someone special.

My lyrics: This Christmas, to cross new frontiers I'll give it to someone special.

I know there are a million more..I always get busted by people that hear me sing. It's actually quite comical.

At March 12, 2006 1:58 PM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

I remember the Wayne's World skit about top ten misheard lyrics. I think my favorite was in hearing the line in CCR's Bad Moon Rising as "There's a bathroom on the right" instead of the actual "There's a bad moon on the rise".
I knew a guy in college who heard a line in Aerosmith's Dream on as "Sing women, sing for the ear" instead of the actual "Sing with me, sing for the year". We found out he thought this when he was singing along with the cd one day.

At March 12, 2006 2:01 PM, Blogger kim replied to my musings ...

I will tell you the one that got me for YEARS - Billy Ocean's Caribbean Queen, which I thought was actually Cariboo Queen. Which I thought was so very very odd. :)

And I'm not the only one!

At March 12, 2006 2:25 PM, Blogger phlegmfatale replied to my musings ...

I think some of the mis-heard lyrics are more Freudian than consonant loss. For example, I argued with a social climber friend in high school about Games without Frontiers - she thought he said "she's so popular". Ugh.

Thus, your shattering bras in Boys of Summer might indicate you like to see boobage. This may indicate heterosexuality, darling.

At March 12, 2006 3:00 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Well what do you know -- that Freud dude was right on the money. Let's hear it for the id!

-- david

At March 12, 2006 3:46 PM, Blogger siren replied to my musings ...

I had a friend in college who thought the chorus of Sophie B Hawkins song "Damn, I wish I was your lover" was "Dan, I wish I was your brother" :) Now when I hear that song, it's all I think of.

At March 12, 2006 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

yay! a post!

what i can' figure out still, is Robbie Williams song Monsoon. Which i think is one those songs whose lyrics are actually so whacked, your translation sounds better...
put your hands across the water,

anyway - anyone go off to check the lyrics when the Killers 'somebody told me' come out...????
" had a boyfriend, that looked like a girlfriend, that i had in february of last year...."

At March 12, 2006 4:34 PM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

My top two snafus:

Keith Urban, You'll Think of Me: "Take your cat and leave my sweater.."

My lyric: "Take your cat that ate my sweater..."

(Note, I HATE this song, but when it comes on the radio I can't get it out of my head!)

Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Blinded By the Light: "Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night"

My lyric: "Wrapped up like a douche another roller in the night."

Has anybody ever figured out whether Terence Trent Darby really said "they're fuckin' our boys" in the song "Wishing Well?" I've never found proof - it's not on any of the lyric sites, but I SWEAR he says it...and I have NO idea what it means if he does say it!

At March 12, 2006 4:59 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

Most of the time, people kind of gloss over the words of the verses of a song, then come in really strong on the chorus, since it's the part they know.
I love it when little kids try and sing songs. Their lyric massacres are always so cute.
Last week, I read a blog post from a guy whose daughter was going around the house singing, "...with a banjo on my weg (leg)."

At March 12, 2006 6:13 PM, Blogger ChickyBabe replied to my musings ...

Thanks David! “The Boys of Summer" (my fave from the 80s) will never be the same again as visions of bras shattering in the sun will haunt me for ever!

At March 12, 2006 6:29 PM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

This is why I also make up my own lyrics. You just can't tell what they are saying sometimes.

I like your lyrics better than the original ones. They are much more creative and more true to life.

At March 12, 2006 7:19 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

"I can't live, if living is without Jews"

At March 12, 2006 8:15 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

I love that scene with Whoopi Goldberg trying to write the lyrics to the Rolling Stones "Jumping Jack Flash."

"I was raised by a toothless, breaded hag"

really does sounds like

"I was raised by two lesbians."

At March 12, 2006 9:53 PM, Blogger Bar Bar A replied to my musings ...

Great post! I love misheard lyrics! Here's one from a U2 song:

Sunday Bloody Sunday

misheard as:

Some day buddy, some day

At March 13, 2006 7:58 AM, Blogger Cari replied to my musings ...

Take me....

spanish caroline...

yes I know you can...



Take me...

spanish caravan,,,

yes I know you can..

I think this MAY have been WISHFUL thinking...:)

At March 13, 2006 8:11 AM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

Most of my mondegreens are way to foul to list here. Although I will admit that much of my chronic lyricosis is put on just to get a rise out of Angry Joyce as she is a Lyric Nazi.

At March 13, 2006 8:58 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Excellent post! I know I CANNOT stand it when someone sings the wrong lyrics to a song.

I am so anal. *sigh*

At March 13, 2006 9:26 AM, Blogger Kay replied to my musings ...

Nice post, funny timing. Hubby was just telling me yesterday that he thought that during the
B-52's "Love Shack" the guy is shouting "fucking in a shack" instead of "funky little shack!"

Now I'm going to be thinking about these all day.

My own mistake: "Jo-Jo was a man than thought he was a loafer..."

At March 13, 2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

One I've heard is from Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner". The real lyric is : "Big old jet airliner", and I heard one guy sing one time, "Bingo Jed had a light on". Huh?

At March 13, 2006 10:10 AM, Blogger BrianAlt replied to my musings ...

I know that Nuke LaLoosh wore garters on the mound, but bras in a baseball game? I think not!

And, uh, the Peter Gabriel misheard lyric for "Games Without Frontiers" is a little more adult than that.

At March 13, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I once wrote an entire alternate set of lyrics to Semisonic's Closing Time, my version is called Soccer Mom. I posted it on my old livejournal blog awhile back. I'm sure I could hunt it down if you're interested.

My wife always changes the radio station when the Cranberries Linger comes on because I never fail to change the lyrics to "C'mon and pull my finger, did you have to, did you have to, did you have to let it linger."

And then there's that Tainted By the Fruit of Another song that I always sing along to using the much more oedipal Tainted by the fruit of your mother.

My father is notorious in my family for mishearing lyrics (and many other things) and one of my brothers likes to create his own lyrics for songs.

My personal favorite of my father's misheard lyrics-- he thought the lyrics to the Drifters Under the Boardwalk were... I've Got a Boiler Problem.

And my older brother, Kevin, has come up with the following gems:

Heat Lightnin' - to the tune of Tom Petty's Free Fallin'

My Eyes in Georgia - to the tune of Frankie Valli's My Eyes Adored Ya

Rock Me I'm a Danish - as if it's not obvious this was his version of the late Falco's Rock Me Amadeus. Incidentally he was referring to breakfast pastries not ethnic background (although at least some of our ancestors are/were from Denmark).

At March 13, 2006 11:16 AM, Blogger LocuTus of Borg replied to my musings ...

Yea I have seen something like this ... course I always good rock and roll when the less understandable the words are :)

At March 13, 2006 2:03 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Some amazing lyrics here, especially from you, Perplexio!

As I was driving today, I heard another one that has always haunted me, from Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." The real line is "Schoolgirl sweetie with a classy kinda sassy..."

As a kid, I always heard it as, "Schoolgirl sweetie with a classic Anglo-Saxon..."

I guess back then I was feeling Teutonic. Now I only hear that wrong line after two tonics.

-- david

At March 13, 2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

The meter is a little off on a few of these lines, it's not one of my better efforts, but I did have fun writing it and that's what's most important I s'pose:

Soccer Mom

Carry in the groceries; start cooking your dinner for four
Soccer Mom
Pork chops and potatoes, they will probably be asking for more
Soccer Mom
Washing all your kids clothes so they can go stain them again
Soccer Mom
Writing all the checks out for all of the bills you’re having to send

I know who I want to wash my clothes
I know who loves her daytime shows
I know whose kids have lawns to mow

Soccer Mom
Pack up all those sandwiches and juice packs for everyone
Soccer Mom
Your kids are still at practice, it’s time for you to have some fun
So put on that lace teddy, call up husband Eddie
Tell him to get his ass right home
Soccer Mom
You really don’t have to spend all of this time alone

I know who I want to wash my clothes
I know who loves her daytime shows
I know whose kids have lawns to mow
Daytime shows

At March 13, 2006 3:03 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

You have a career in songwriting, sir.

Maybe you can be the next Weird Al Yankovic ... do you look like a wet poodle on crack?

-- david

At March 13, 2006 3:25 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Naw, not really.

Not by any stretch of the imagination.

At March 13, 2006 4:00 PM, Blogger Amy replied to my musings ...

hey, isn't it funny when you call somebody on singing the wrong lyrics... i love how defensive they get... hahahahahah

At March 13, 2006 6:07 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

The rapper Mystical is certainly a challenge in this department--I don't even think HE knows what he's saying.

One lyric seems to go:

"Shy kooka dooba/Shaka dooba junga!"

I like your lyric way better on the Henley thing.

Unfortunately, in his case, even if Shakespeare writes the lyrics, there's the aedenoidal tenor and the lame melody and production.

One song that threw me recently was that "Dirty Little Secret," where they go:

"I'll keep you my dirty little secret/Don't tell any-/One day you'll be just another regret."

Actually it took me a while to figure out the "regret" cause the accent is on the wrong syllable to make it work, but the hardest thing was how the "One" carries over from the last stanza into the next.

Anyway, I'm glad I figured it out. Now I can sleep nights.

At March 14, 2006 7:55 AM, Blogger FredCQ replied to my musings ...

When I was a kid, there used to be a series of books dedicated to misunderstood lyrics.

I think that one of them was called Scuse Me While I Kiss This Fly

At March 14, 2006 9:56 AM, Blogger LocuTus of Borg replied to my musings ...

LOL thats funny perplexio

At March 14, 2006 10:25 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Thanks, Locutus and David! :-)

At March 14, 2006 12:35 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

One funny song I could never understand was The Clash's "Rock the Casbah."

I always thought the chorus was:
"Put your weenie on the side yeah."
Other times, I'd sing:
"Put your weenie on the sidewalk."

I was a little kid, give me a break.

It's actually:
"Shareef don't like it."

At March 14, 2006 2:20 PM, Blogger none - ya replied to my musings ...

It wouldn't be until sometime last year that I realized what the fuck certain lyrics in Pearl Jam's Jeremy were.

Jeremy spoke in class today.

God knows what the fuck I thought he was saying.

At March 14, 2006 4:37 PM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

I'm always mis-hearing lyrics.

For years I thought Hall & Oates Soul love classic "She's Gone" was called "Cheese Scon(e)".

Talking of scones, I also thought The Rolling Stones rocker "I know it's only Rock & Roll" was actually "I know, it's only buttered scones, but I like 'em".

And the Pointer Sisters "Slowhand".
The line where they beg their lover not to "come and go in a heated rush". Well I got that torally wrong. My interpretation was

"Not come and go with his heated Brush".

At March 14, 2006 7:53 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

Hi. I've got nothing witty to say today. Just Hi.

At March 14, 2006 8:10 PM, Anonymous Leah replied to my musings ...

What a funny post! First of all...this is the first time that I'm finding out that "Games without Frontiers" doesn't say have the line "She's so popular" in it. I always sing that line... Whoops!

And I agree about Mannfred Mann's song. I know that it cannot be "Revved up like a douche", but I swear that's what I hear...and definitely what I sing! Hhehe.

On another note, I love it when people intentionally change the words to songs to be funny. Like in Prince's "Kiss". This bar band that always played in my pub when I was tending there would sing, "You don't have to be rich to be my bitch. You don't have to be cool to suck my tool." And it made me laugh EVERY TIME. I still have a hard time not saying those words when I hear that song.

At March 15, 2006 1:19 AM, Blogger Manic Mom replied to my musings ...

Can you write about this story:
It almost seemed like a miracle to Haldis Gundersen when she turned on her kitchen faucet this weekend and found the water had turned into beer.

Two flights down, employees and customers at the Big Tower Bar were horrified when water poured out of the beer taps.

By an improbable feat of clumsy plumbing, someone at the bar in Kristiandsund, western Norway, had accidentally hooked the beer hoses to the water pipes for Gundersen's apartment.

"We had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little," Gundersen, 50, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. "I turned on the kitchen faucet and beer came out."

However, Gundersen said the beer was flat and not tempting, even in a country where a half-liter (pint) can cost about 25 kroner ($3.75) in grocery stores.

Per Egil Myrvang, of the local beer distributor, said he helped bartenders reconnect the pipes by telephone.

"The water and beer pipes do touch each other, but you have to be really creative to connect them together," he told local newspapers.

Gundersen joked about having the pub send up free beer for her next party.

"But maybe it would be easier if they just invited me down for a beer," she said.

At March 15, 2006 7:22 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

I think that story pretty much tells itself--what a crazy set of pipes that must be! I guess it's better than the horror movies, where blood comes out of the pipes ...

-- david

At March 15, 2006 2:49 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

For anyone still looking here, I was just told about a great misheard lyric. The real line, from the classic Deep Purple tune: "Smoke on the water, fire in the sky."

Often heard as, "Slow motion Walter, fire engine guy."

-- david

At March 16, 2006 8:02 AM, Blogger jay lassiter replied to my musings ...

NO dark sarcasm in the classroom
-pink floyd

Do dukes of hazzard in the classroom
-what i heard

At March 16, 2006 9:52 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At March 16, 2006 9:53 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

One of my favorite, although I've come to believe it was intentional is Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Love". I used to think it was a fabricated bouncy pop song, so saccharine I couldn't stand it - miles away from his best work. Then listening to it one day I heard the chorus change from 'part-time lover" to "apartheid lover". It turned from a forgettable pop hit in to a piece of biting social commentary about prejudice...

At March 17, 2006 7:01 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

I always sing along saying-"Scuse me while I kiss this guy"

At March 18, 2006 6:21 AM, Blogger Rocky replied to my musings ...

This reminds me of a former co-worker who swore that in Manfred Mann's "Blinded by the Light" there was mention of a douche in it. What a douchebag!

At March 19, 2006 6:29 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I just thought of another song I purposely butcher:

Living Next Door to Alice by Smokie.

I always hear:

"24 years just waiting for a chance to tell her how I feel and maybe get a second chance"


"24 years just waiting for a chance to tell her how I feel and maybe get into her pants:

but then I think to myself this dude is an even bigger loser than the 40 year old virgin... 24 years and the dude still hasn't made his move?!?!?

Then I'm left wondering if this song was written in response to the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More-- maybe that's the Alice he blew his chances with.

At March 21, 2006 1:56 PM, Blogger debbiecakes replied to my musings ...

Okay, one of your bests. No doubt as to why it voted as one of the most popular.

Always thought "Boys of Summer" went "Your breasts keep shining in the sun" which I thought was pretty risque for the light rock stations that played it (over and over and over again)and I thought Don was just a gross pervert for stalking his ex on a nude beach.

And it's "She' FunKy, yeah..."

Thanks to my poor hearing and active imagination, I got me some killer lyrics...I'm gonna break out the old Ibanez.

At March 21, 2006 6:02 PM, Blogger dragonflyfilly replied to my musings ...

"...wrapped up like a douche..." is totally what i hear, but i always ponder WHY? -- it's SO incongurent.... oh well!

At May 17, 2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Hel Fire replied to my musings ...

I misheard loads of lyrics when i was about 13 for some reason.

Eiffel 65 "Blue"
Real lyric: "I'm blue, da ba dee da ba die"
I heard: "I'm blue, I believe i will die"

Bon Jovi "It's My Life"
Real lyric: "Like Frankie said, i did it my way"
I heard: "Like Frankenstein i did it my way"

Aerosmith "Dude"
Real lyric: "Dude looks like a lady"
I heard: "Do it like a lady."

At June 14, 2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Jessi Guilford replied to my musings ...

Agreed with "She's so popular" in Peter Gabriel and "Wrapped up like a douche," though I tend to go further with the douche and turn it into, "Wrapped up like a douche in North Dakota in the night." I know it's wrong, but it feels so right.

Two I haven't seen here yet:

Bon Jovi has that awful song "Living on a Prayer," which contains the line,

"It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not."

I always hear it as, "It doesn't make a difference if we're naked or not."

My other new contribution is Shania Twain's "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?," in which she sings the title over and over and over again. Except that's not what I hear. I hear, "Whose bed have your boobs been under?"

At September 11, 2009 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

Trains' " drop of jupitor"
" that heaven is overrated"

" van halen is overrated"


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