They’re blowing in the wind.
Mondegreens. What a cool name for a mistake.
The term reportedly was coined in 1954, in Sylvia Wright’s “The Death of Lady Mondegreen,” published in Harper’s Magazine. In the essay Wright wrote that, as a child, she misheard a line in a ballad and subsequently sang “and Lady Mondegreen,” instead of “and laid him on the green.”
Ten years before there was a term for it, a novelty song based on the concept had listeners all over the world singing: “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey.”
Humor columnist Dave Barry wrote occasionally about such matters. I remember one in particular that appealed to my inner Sylvia Wright. The song was “Help Me Rhonda.” For those of the Beach Boys generation, stop and think; can you sing the first line? Here’s a hint. It begins with “Since you put me down…” Barry felt compelled to point out that the second part is not, “there’ve been owls puking in my bed.” I am still not sure what the lyrics really are because the liner notes make no sense. Puking owls make more sense.
There are plenty of other famous mondegreens: CCR’s “there’s a bathroom on the right” and Jimi Hendrix’ “’scuse me while I kiss this guy.” And everyone loves that favorite Christmas carol, “Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly.”
I had a friend in college who sang The Police’s “Canary in a Coal Mine,” as “Mary in a coma.”
Another told of her little brother singing “Cracklin’ Rosie peed on the floor.”
And who can’t name two mondegreens in the same line of Manfred Man’s “Blinded by the Light?” Please keep those to yourselves, as this is a family blog.
Anyone have any clean ones?