We’ve all done it. Singing at the top of our lungs, belting out some line we thought we knew but then suddenly realizing all of our companions have turned to stare – or, sometimes, just flat out laugh – because we’ve completely butchered the line.
My own personal hopeless gaffe came up the other night. It is, and has always been, Blinded by the Light (Manfield Mann’s Earth Band). Since 1977, I think I’ve been singing “blinded by the light … ripped up like inducient, like a runner in the night …” It never mattered to me that “inducient” isn’t even a word. I didn’t care. In 1977, I thought maybe “inducient” was a word and — being only 11 — I just hadn’t learned it yet. But the other night, my 16yo told me that the real words are “blinded by the light … revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night …”
Well, gee, that does make more sense.
(But I think I need to coin the word “inducient.”)
Jon Carroll at the San Francisco Chronicle calls these gaffes “Mondegreens” (after writer Sylvia Wright’s misperception of “…and Lady Mondegreen” in the Scottish ballad Bonny Earl of Murray instead of “…and laid him on the green”). Carroll has been documenting Mondegreens for some time. (He explains that here.)
Superman’s “Mondegreen” has been Carry On (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). Chris has been singing – until a mere two months ago, mind you – “…the forks on the table are able/to sing the song …” He sang it this way until he got his cool new iPhone app, Tune Wiki, and found out that the words were actually: “…the fortress of fables are able/to sing the song …”
When our DS and DD teens heard this (after my Blinded by the Light fiasco), they collapsed into laughter until they fessed up their own:
Rene’s has been Beautiful Mess (Jason Mraz). She’s been singing “…And through timeless words and priceless pictures/ we’ll fly like birds, not like lizards” for quite some time. (It made sense to her, she argued. Since lizards do NOT fly, well …) But finally it bugged her enough that she looked it up online and found out that the words were actually: “…And through timeless words and priceless pictures/ we’ll fly like birds, not of this earth …” Ooops.
Ricky’s was Hospital Beds (Cold War Kids). He kept hearing “…Me and my fish ‘n chips/ a tiny ant opera/me and my fish ‘n chips/ a tiny ant opera …” for some time. But even he knew that one didn’t make sense. So he listened more carefully and finally figured out that it was “…Vietnam fishing trips/ Italian opera/ Vietnam fishing trips/ Italian opera …” (I’ve included the link on all the songs so you can hear yourself — and this one REALLY DOES sound like “tiny ant opera”!!! Good one, Ricky!)
But Ricky shook his head about another one: “I still don’t know what Aretha Franklin is saying in ‘Respect,’ though.”
Our family might be playing with our Tune Wiki for some time. …
What are your worse “Mondegreens”? Do you have Tune Wiki to help you out?