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Still on break from gaming posts, today’s post is about a thought triggered by a tweet from Eric Alpert.
This is by no means an original idea, but I suspect I have something to add to it. As we all know, there are some song lyrics that have been famously misinterpreted by the fans. For example, in Manfred Mann’s Blinded by the Light, “wrapped up like a deuce” has been misinterpreted as “wrapped up like a douche.” Then there’s Rockin’ the Casbah by the Clash. Cingular Wireless made a commercial in which the actors were arguing over the song’s lyrics, including the title itself (e.g., “rock the cash box” v. “stop the cat box”). Again, this is not an original thought.
There are two examples of this going back to my teen years that I’ve never discussed with anyone. It’s not that these embarrass me; I point that out to illustrate that I have no idea whether anyone has ever misheard these lyrics in this way. First, in Every Breath You Take by the Police, I always heard, “how my poor heart aches” as “I’m a pool hall ace.” It didn’t make any sense to me, but I can’t understand these damn British and their mangled form of the English language.
Then there’s Caught Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden. The lyric in question is the title of the song, so of course I always knew what was being said. Nevertheless, “caught somewhere in time” still sounds like “constant wear and tear” to me. I have to force myself to hear it correctly. Considering Bruce Dickenson’s tedious inflection and tone while singing it, there’s some sense to that being the lyric, isn’t there?
There was another silly one for me, but at least a couple other people heard it too.
Again, I’ve never discussed these with anyone, so I have no idea whether either is common. I’d be surprised if “pool hall ace” is common, but as I point out, Bruce’s approach leans a bit towards my mistake. In any case, I bet you’ll never hear those songs the same way again.
What are your weirdly misheard song lyrics?
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Jon Carroll (a San Francisco columnist) has written many times on this topic, known as “Mondegreens” for a mis-heard lyric in an old English ballad – “and she laid him on the green” was heard as “and Lady Mondegreen”. My favorite was my brother-in-law’s hearing of the old Cuban folksong “Guantanamera” (a 1966 hit for The Sandpipers). He heard “Guantanamera, Guajira Guantanamera” as “One ton tomato, I’ll eat a one ton tomato”.