Song lyrics are often misunderstood. Millions of people are walking around or driving in their car right now singing the words to a song incorrectly. The reason for this might be: 1) We are listening to a song while we are doing other stuff and only paying attention halfway, or 2) The singer doesn’t sing the lyric clearly, or 3) We think we understand it, but we don’t! It’s so common that a phrase or lyric is misunderstood, that a word for this mistake was included in the dictionary in 2000. This blunder is called a mondegreen!
Some song lyrics have been misunderstood frequently, and others occasionally, but the misinterpretation is almost always quite comical. Check these ten out!
1. “Bad Moon Rising”, by Creedance Clearwater Revival in 1969
Many baby boomers bungled the lyrics to this song in the late sixties by singing: “There’s a bathroom on the right” but the correct lyric was actually, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Remember, it was the sixties and many fans were in an altered state!
2. “Purple Haze”, sung by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966
Hendrix fans heard, “Scuse me while I kiss this guy”, while the lyrics actually were, “Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” If it were a current song, we might think it to be the guys’ comeback to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl (and I liked it)!”
3. “What a Feeling”, sung by Irene Cara in 1983
The movie Flashdance got many of us singing along to this song, but wondering if it really said, “Take your pants off”, where it actually said “Take your passion.” You have to understand that it was the era of free love and that the next line was “And make it happen!” Seemed somewhat logical back then.
4. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, sung by The Tokens in 1961
Wiseakers were singing this part of the lyric many different ways, without a clue what it might really be saying. They sang, “A weenie whack, a weenna whack, a weemma whack, or a awayma whack,”, when it was actually, “Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh.” An online source says this phrase is a Zulu phrase, which is actually spelled “uyimbube” and means “you’re a lion”. Who knew?
5. “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida”, sung by Iron Butterfly in 1968
One of the most misunderstood lyrics ever, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was sung by almost everyone as, “In a garden of Eden”, until they were told by some friend that they had it wrong. But the story goes that the misunderstood lyric was actually the original lyric, however the band member singing the song was intoxicated and slurred the words, so the band changed it. Oh well, it was a 16-minute heavy-rock song born during the times of psychedelic expression. Sing it however you wish!
6. “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue”, sung by Crystal Gayle in 1977
Believe or not, according to AMiRight.com, many people thought this lyric said, “Donuts make my brown eyes blue”. Come on! Ok, it’s funny to me that even one person thought that was the lyric. Don’t you agree?
7. “Blinded by the Light”, sung by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1977
This song lyric ties “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” as far as being widely misunderstood. I don’t think anyone knew that the actual lyric was “revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night”, because everyone sang it something like, “wrapped up like a douche, you know the lover in the night.” Ask someone who lived those times and then taste the seventies experience for yourself on this YouTube video! What do you hear?
8. “Our Song”, sung by Taylor Swift in 2007
Okay we can’t blame it on the drug-era for misunderstanding Taylor Swift lyrics! I liked the misinterpretation of her lyrics for “Our Song” It was heard as “The first eight men, I didn’t kiss them and I should have,” when it really was, “”The first date man, I didn’t kiss her and I should have.”
9. “You Should Be Dancing”, sung by The Bee Gees in 1987
This iconic, Saturday Night Fever song leaves quite a bit of room for misinterpretation, and many of us heard, “What ya doin’ in your pants? Or Whatcha doin’ on your butt? Or Whatcha doin on your back” when actually the lyric right before the hook line in the chorus was none of these. I’m not even going to tell you the right lyrics. Listen to the Bee GeesYouTube video, tell me what you hear in the comments section below, and then read what others thought it said here.
10. Desperado, sung by the Eagles in 1973
Okay I never thought this was the lyric, but apparently others did. Tell me if you thought it said, “Desperado, you’ve been outright offensive for so long now” instead of , “Desperado, you’ve been out riding fences for so long now?” Really?
Everyone misunderstands the lyrics to a song every once in a while and some people mess them up royally most of the time. (You know someone like that, don’t you?) And,in defense of everyone who sang all those seventies and eighties songs wrong, they didn’t have a resource like the internet back then to determine the real lyrics. If the lyric to the song wasn’t printed on the album cover or the cassette insert, we sang what we thought we heard!
Keeping that in mind, I originally thought the award for weirdest misunderstood lyric should go to a woman for the lyrics for “Invisible Touch”, sung by Genesis in 1986 (still before the internet). According her Yelp post, Beth, “Pretty by the Bay”, thought Phil Collins sang, “She seems too busy for a talk show”. But, after listening to the Genesis video with her misunderstood lyrics in mind, I have to change my mind about that award, because I can actually understand how she heard that!
Do you have a favorite misunderstood lyric of your own? I’d love to hear it!
Reading you may also enjoy:
“Things That Will Make You Smile”
“Ten Best YouTube Videos”
“Favorite Songs About Spring and Summer”
AMiRight, Making Fun of Music
Shawn Amos’ Huffington Post article, “Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy and Other Misheard Lyrics”
MSNBC article, “Most mishead lyrics: Rockin the catbox, with bathroom on the right”