TNB Night Owl — What’s In A Lyric?

Record. Photo by Go Daddy

We have all heard music lyrics and misheard what was sung, with usually humorous results.

For example, when I was in my twenties one of my friends told a story about her friend and the song Jet Airliner by the Steve Miller Band, according to my friend, every time this song was played, her friend sang the chorus as “Big Ole’ Jed had a light on” since then every time I hear the song, I hear “Big Ole’ Jed had a light on” even though prior to hearing that story, I knew it was really, “Big Ol’ Jet Airliner.” 

What I did not know in my twenties was this mishearing of song lyrics has a name, according to Uh.edu, it’s called Mondegreen coined by writer Sylvia Wright.

In 2014 The New Yorker penned an article about the science behind Mondegreen, writing at the time that this mishearing of lyrics occurs when, “somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way.”

When looking up songs for this thread, I found a few universal ones crossed posted at several lists.

1. Tiny Dancer by Elton John.

The Wrong Lyric: Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
The Correct Lyric: Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.

2. Smell Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

The Wrong Lyric: Here we are now, in containers.
The Correct Lyric: Here we are now, entertain us.

3. Dancing Queen by ABBA (I’m sorry)

The Wrong Lyric: Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tangerine.
The Correct Lyric: Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine.

Question of the night: What song lyric have you misheard?

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About Tiff 2011 Articles
Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.