Since writing this, I’ve had many, many suggestions that were simply too good not to add.
In a time where everyone seems to be shouting at each other on social media, or spreading unhealthy levels of vitriol, let’s all take a step back, laugh with each other and simply smile…..
I have a very distinct memory from a night out in Blackpool in November 2005…..
No, it’s not that I was on a night out in Blackpool on a freezing November night, it’s this….
I was in a takeaway with my best friend Ruth – probably ordering a garlic bread pizza with donner meat and extra garlic sauce, which, quite frankly is a disgrace – anyway we were discussing the Take That documentary ‘For the record’ that had been on that week, when I started singing Pray….
ME: “All I do is shine and pray”
RUTH: “What words are you singing?”
ME: “All I do is shine and pray”.
RUTH: “It’s all I do each night is pray”.
ME: Mulls over this brand-new information in my head and after a good few minutes…. “Are you sure?”
Of course, she was sure, she was also right. I’m that stubborn I wouldn’t accept that I’d been singing the wrong words for 12 years. 27 years later I still sing ‘Shine and pray’.
You see there were a few things running through my head.
- They’re shining mirrors in the music video so obviously it’s shine and pray.
- It had never once occurred to me that my lyrics made no sense whatsoever.
You see I will defend my misheard lyrics or mondegreens (thanks to The Chase for that nugget of knowledge) until my last breath.
I’d had similar debate with my mum in 1998 about ‘Sit down’ by James.
ME: “If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being TALL”.
MUM: “It’s poor.
MUM: “If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor”.
Yes, ladies and gents, I actually tried to argue that tall made as much sense as poor. I can’t remember what my (flawed) argument was but I stand by that decision.
And let’s not forget this classic, “I went to the danger zone”.
I’m told it’s actually “Highway to the danger zone”.
Kenny Loggins himself could tell me this is case, and I wouldn’t accept it, this is the hill I am willing to die on.
I refuse to change the words I’ve always sang, I like my Mondegreens. The word Mondegreen comes from an old Scottish folk song called The Bonny Earl O’Moray.
The line goes: ‘They have slain the Earl o’ Moray And laid him on the green’. What a lot of people heard was ‘and Lady Mondegreen’ and so the fabulous word Modegreen was born – good work Scotland 🙂 . Thank you Jan Waghorn for this.
We all have Mondegreens (I am absolutely going to keep using this word), they make us smile, make our friends laugh and will always be used as anecdotes by our families. People have sent me some belters on social media, this is the stuff I’m on twitter for.
She has a point, geese are scary.
“We’re Heading for peanuts” instead of “We’re heading for Venus” in The Final Countdown – I am more likely to head for peanuts than Venus and I don’t really like peanuts.
“Eating Trifles” instead of “Eaton Rifles” – I’ll absolutely go with this.
“Hold me closer Tony Danzer” why not give the subject of the song a name and let that name be Tony. Followed by “There’s a shipwreck on the highway”.
“Don’t go around breaking young girl’s arms” instead of “hearts”– This is courtesy of my other half – it is life advice everyone should live by. Also, don’t break girl’s hearts.
“Freed from desire my intestines putrefying” instead of “mind and senses purified” – works better than my ‘hm hm hm hm hm heee”
“Just like the white window” instead of. “just like a winged dove” in Edge of Seventeen. Sure.
“And you come to me on a submarine” instead of “summer breeze” in ‘How deep is your love’ – a submarine is more impressive in my opinion.
“Young girl with eyes like potatoes” instead of “Young girl with eyes like the desert” – potatoes does rhyme with San Pedro.
“I guess it rains down in Africa” instead of “I bless the rains down in Africa” – I thought it was “I touched the rains down in Africa”.
“And so, silicone waist” I had to ask Emily for clarity on this because I had no idea what song she was referring to, it turns out she was on about Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger and the line? “So, Sally can wait” …..sorry Em.
Some, defended their mondegreens, some admitted to being a bit red faced.
As read countless suggestions over the weekend a very common theme began to emerge. Everyone had a story and a memory attached to a Mondegreen whether it be about themselves, a story from childhood or a reminder of a loved one and by sharing them, they brought smiles and laughter to strangers in other parts of the world, I’m sharing them here in the hope they make you smile too:
Angela Fitzpatrick My brother was about eight when Grease came out and I found him jigging round the living room singing ‘You’re the wobbly dog’
Sasha Callaghan My youngest son was very disappointed when he learned that the football song was about *three lions*, he thought it was *sea lions*.
Michelle Sweet Bob Marley : we’ll be together with a roof rack over our heads. Also Macy Gray : I wear goggles when you are not here.
Amanda Fleet “Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with your thighs” from Gloria Gaynor’s I will Survive (it should be hurt me with goodbye)
Lauren Phillips You’ve already got one from Freed from Desire but my Mom used to sing, “My love ain’t got no money-he’s got his dungarees.” Personally I think that’s better than “strong beliefs.” She also had one for Ace of Base’s All That She Wants. She used to sing, “All that she wants is a tub of gravy,” instead of “another baby.” Sounds legit.
Also when Taylor Swift’s Blank Space came out my housemate was convinced the line was “Gotta love those Starbucks lovers” and not “Got a long list of ex -lovers.” – Mind blown, I too believed she was singing about Starbucks.
You just reminded me as you mentioned a reggae song, my Grandad used to sing “park the buses on the left hand side” instead of “pass the dutchie ‘pon the left hand side.”
Anna Biggs For ages I thought the line in Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl was ‘I ain’t no Harlem Batgirl’ and couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be one. No idea how I misheard when its literally the song title.
Janella Jane Bell Only yesterday, did I google and learn that the lyric from Blur’s Song Two (Woohoo) is “I got my head checked”, not “I got my head shaved”
Rachel Hogg Robbie Williams song, Strong. The lyrics are “Early morning, when I wake up, I look like Kiss but without the makeup”. I thought it was “I look like Casper without the makeup.” As in Casper the friendly ghost…
Helen Heggadon Billy idol ‘holding my foreskin back’ singing ‘only my voice came back’
Sally Feldt For years and years I thought Aretha Franklin was singing about an antiseptic gargle – “R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me R-E-S-P-E-C-T Take out TCP” Instead of the actual “Take care, TCB” (Taking care of business)
Kezi Victoria I got my first real sex dream – summer of 69 – made me spit my drink out
Rhiannon HopkinsThe line from Travelin’ Band by CCR, “Someone got excited, had to call the state militia,” a dear idiot I know thought it was, ‘someone got excited and they called their dog Patricia.’
Jack Simmons Does anyone remember the Falco song, Amadeus? A friend kept talking about the “Hot Potato” song and we had no idea what she was going on about…and then she tried to sing it…”C’mon and rock me, hot potatoes!”
Catherine SleemanI don’t think this is a commonly misheard one but I must have been about 7 or 8 when Beyoncé released Single Ladies and for a long time I thought she was singing ‘I wanna single lettuce, I wanna single lettuce’ hahaha I have a wonderful mental image of a small version of me dancing round the house demanding a single lettuce
Emma Armstrong Jimmy Barnes: “Cheap wine and a female goat. Cheap wine and a female goat. C’mon! C’mon!” What he is actually singing; “Cheap wine and a three day growth. Cheap wine and a three day growth. C’mon! C’mon!”
Amy Vaughan-SpencerThe trucks don’t work, they just make it worse… (I was genuinely that naïve!).
Apologies if you never hear some of these songs in the same light again.
Why should we be bothered about singing the correct words or even words that make sense when the alternatives bring us so much more joy? Why should we be embarrassed when we get the words hopelessly wrong? I say who actually cares?
You see the first time I sang “French Skipping in the USA” – I can only assume I thought Debbie Harry was singing about the cross skip – I couldn’t understand why the adults were laughing and actually, I didn’t care. I was enjoying myself, I like making people laugh and I liked singing.
I always loved to sing, loudly without fear.
I was a right little performer. I belted out ‘Getting to know you’ from King and I at a primary school concert complete with shaking hands of the parents in the audience, entered talent competitions singing ‘Part of your world’ (little mermaid), ‘Any dream will do’ and on one occasion ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’, actually I’d say I was more than likely a precocious brat.
I wasn’t the best singer, I’m definitely not a good singer now.
Now I only sing in front of other people after a couple of sherbets, or inadvertently on a walk with my headphones in.
Last week some Electricity North West workers were treated to a rendition of ‘Hooked on a feeling’ by Blue Swede complete with ooga chakas. In my defence, I didn’t expect to see a group workers up on the hills.
These days, I prefer to sing in the car, shower or around the house, where no one can really hear and no one can hear or question my made up lyrics.
I don’t know when that changed, I don’t know when I started caring or when I became self conscious. I was slightly embarrassed in front of the electricity guys then thought, why? It made them smile and while I was singing (badly) it made me smile too.
I sing what I want in the car and stand by own (at times ridiculous) lyrics and if it makes someone smile or laugh then that’s not a bad thing.
So, I’ll keep singing the wrong words loudly, out of tune, confidently without a care in the world, even if my lyrics make no sense whatsoever and you should too.
I have to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this, it’s been an absolute pleasure hearing and reading people’s memories and stories this weekend, what started as a funny throw away post ended up reminding me to enjoy the simple things in life and laugh often.
Tell me your Mondegreens below 🙂
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm