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Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: Song Lyrics We Flub

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In a former life, I worked for a lawless company where the majority of the employees were tattooed to the neck and the noise from skateboards tearing down the hallway was deafening. Naturally, punk rock and heavy metal provided the soundtrack for the chaos. Some days, I just wanted to sequester myself in my office with a good pair of earplugs, but, having always had a knack for remembering the lyrics to a wide variety of music, I eventually memorized most of those songs whether I wanted to or not. I figured all my colleagues were amassing music knowledge at the same pace, until one day, my friend Lizzie and I were trying to get some work done over the pounding drums of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and all of a sudden she belted out, “Dirty Dean, he’s the dungeon chief.” When I looked at her aghast and burst out laughing, she couldn’t understand what was so funny; she would never have known she’d butchered the lyric unless I’d explained it to her.


Lizzie was just one in a long line of people I’ve known who can’t seem to get through a song without flubbing at least a few lines. But I never realized until recently that there’s a name for these misinterpreted lyrics: they’re called mondegreens, and they’re endlessly amusing. Below, some of the funniest mix-ups, courtesy of AmIRight.com and KissThisGuy.com, two Web sites devoted exclusively to keeping archives of the words music lovers convince themselves they’re hearing.



 
Artist/Song:         Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”
 
Mondegreen: “Stand on the line, in disco and rhyme, I’m on the huntdown after you, mouse is alive with juices like wine.”
 
Actual Lyric: “Straddle the line in discord and rhyme, I’m on the hunt, I’m after you, mouth is alive with juices like wine.”




 
Artist/Song:         The Eagles, “Hotel California”
 
Mondegreens: “I once met a policeman rising up through the air.”
“I said the Pledge of Allegiance rising up through the air.”
“Once smelled like the lead gas rising up through the air.”
“One smells the politesse rising up through the air.”
 
Actual Lyric: “The warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.”




 
Artist/Song:         Guns N’ Roses, “Paradise City”
 
Mondegreens: “Take me down to prairie dog city.”
“Fake the cow into the paraglide piety.”
“Take me down to the monkey-licecity.”
 
Actual Lyric: “Take me down to Paradise City.”




 
Artist/Song:         INXS, “Devil Inside”
 
Mondegreen: “Canada Dry, Canada Dry, every single person is Canada Dry.”
 
Actual Lyric: “The devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside.”




 
Artist/Song:         Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”
 
Mondegreens: “An’ dere’s a wino down the road …”
“And as we’re winos down the road, our ‘Shaft’ is telling that I know, there walks a lazy Al Capone.”
 
Actual Lyric: “And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls, there walks a lady we all know …”
 
Mondegreens: “If there’s a muscle in your headroom, don’t be alone now. It’s just a sprinkling for the bakery.”
“If there’s a pretzel in your hair, Joe …”
“If there’s a bustlin’ group of hedgehogs, get it on now.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now. It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.”




 
Artist/Song:         Michael Jackson, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
 
Mondegreens: “I’m a plate of some soggy applesauce.”
“I’ma sing my my song, my Michael song.”
“Did they say they were from the Yakuza?”
“Mama save on the sale of Microsoft.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “Mama se mama sa, mama cu sa.”




 
Artist/Song:         Notorious B.I.G., “Big Poppa”
 
Mondegreens: “I love it when you feed me fresh pasta.”
“I love it when you call me David Copperfunk.”
“I love it when you do me in the parking lot.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “I love it when you call me Big Poppa.”




 
Artist/Song:         Pink Floyd, “Comfortably Numb”
 
Mondegreens: “There is no brain, you are receiving a distant chipmunk on the horizon.”
“There is no pain, you are receding, a dish of chips, smoked on the horizon.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “There is no pain, you are receding, a distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.”




 
Artist/Song:         Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
 
Mondegreens: “The algebra has a devil for a sidekick, eeeeee …”
“Beelzebub has a devil for a son named Steve.”
“Beetle Bug has the metal mutt dried for me.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me …”




 
Artist/Song:         Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love”
 
Mondegreens: “Minus Yellow Pages, you’re addicted to love.”
“My auntie’s lil’ baby, you’re addicted to love.”
“Minus twelve fingers I’m addicted to gloves.”
“Mine are square faces, you’re a d-d-d-dur.”

 

 
Actual Lyric: “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”


Music to Our Ears
As much as I love being able to sing along word for word with my favorite music, I derive just as much pleasure from hearing other people let loose with their own, utterly misguided versions of the same tunes. I’ll never forget the time I took a long walk with my (very lovable but linguistically inept) former roommate and she burst into the opening strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “Oh, say, can you see by the donderly light …” she crooned, and then offered up an enthusiastic salute to no one in particular, as I almost fell on the ground in hysterics. I learned a valuable lesson that day: we all hear what we want to hear, and one woman’s “donderly” is another’s “dawn’s early.” Live and let live, I say—and always sing like no one’s listening.


Updated December 23, 2010

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