Web Extra: WYEP Hosts' Mondegreen include The Police, Live and Dobie Gray
WYEP has been on the search for your most hilarious, embarrassing and downright weird mondegreens (misheard lyrics). You can share yours here. To jog your memory, WYEP's on-air hosts have graciously offered their most exasperating tales of personal mondegreen-woe. Sit back, relate and LOL away the day with these very funny misheard lyrics from people who should probably know better.
Music Director/Midday Mix Host
Mondegreen: Neil Diamond, "Forever in Blue Jeans" (well, techincally it's his mom's)
There were plenty of misheard lyrics growing up on A.M. radio in southern MN. Somehow I think the scratchiness of the signal played into mishearing some of the lyrics, and made for some pretty good laughs with my family. It was around 1979 when I first heard a new single titled ”Forever in Blue Jeans” from Neil Diamond, while riding in the car with my mother. It was a pretty straightforward Country-pop tune that Neil was known for. Somehow my mother heard the lyrics as “A Reverend In Blue Jeans” and a few weeks later caught her signing that. I argued and laughed about what she thought she’d heard and my mother was adamant about her version being the correct one. There was no quick way to check at the time, so there was quite the debate until I called an on-air dj, then purchased the 45’ at the record store at the mall for my mom for Christmas that year. We still laugh about it to this day.
Morning Mix Host
Mondegreen: Rod Stewart (kind of) and Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"
I used to think Jack Reynolds was my dad. He’s not. He just sang back-up on a Rod Stewart song. My parents, both together and separately, used to rock a lot of Rod Stewart tapes in the car when I was a kid. My mom’s a church organist and choir director, so hearing her sing was never out of the question. My dad, however, never really belted it. He would just tap his foot on the side of the brake pedal and turn it up a notch or two. Having said that, I always noticed him quietly singing along to “Country Comfort,” the Elton John cover on Gasoline Alley. I always liked hearing him in the background and just assumed that was the one that really, really spoke to him.
Fast forward to age 16. My own car. My own copies of Rod Stewart albums (although this time on CD). I’m cruising along and enjoying the music when “Country Comfort” comes on and, suddenly, I feel a little freaked out. I’m completely alone, yet there’s my dad singing along with Rod. The hell?? Turns out it was never my dad. I popped out the booklet from the CD case and checked the credits and saw that it was some guy named Jack Reynolds the whole time. I’ve probably only heard my dad sing “Happy Birthday” and my whole life is a lie.
I know that’s not technically a mondegreen, but it’s all I could think of until tonight. October 10, 2018. One night before this assignment is due.
I got a notification from WYEP’s Twitter on my phone. It was someone suggesting their own misheard song lyric. “Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul,” they said. The hell??? That’s not a misheard lyric. That’s “Drift Away.” I immediately dismiss this @nhodgeness person as misinformed and pull the lyrics up online and there it is: “Give me the beat boys and free my soul.” It turns out me and Dobie have not been singing the same thing all these years and my entire life IS a lie.
Digital Content Manager/Evening Mix Host
Mondegreen: Live, "Lightning Crashes"
I really loved “Lightning Crashes” from Live’s Throwing Copper album (I stole the CD from my brother). I was so proud that I learned all the words and felt every one of them. I loved the chorus: “Oh now feel it comin' back again/Like a rollin' thunder chasing the wind” … and I especially loved it when lead singer Ed Kowalczyk changed up the words later in the song to “Like a ruling mother bragging that she’s seen the way.” So. Deep. I contemplated on what a “ruling mother” was and how she got into the position of bragging about seeing the way. This was beyond me. I listen to that song so hard. I’m not quite sure exactly how or when it happened, but I remember being confused about when the “Ruling Mother” chorus came in. It then occurred to me that I had heard it incorrectly (WHOOPS). However, I actually think my version with the “Ruling Mother” chorus is far superior to the recorded version, so I stand by my initial interpretation.
Director of Content
Mondegreen: Every song by The Police
I don’t know if it’s something to do with Sting’s voice or singing style, but The Police have often been a source of mondegreens. Some people have heard their song “Canary in a Coalmine” as “let’s get married in a coalmine.” In “Message in a Bottle,” my sister once thought that the line “a year has passed since I wrote my note” was “a year has passed since I broke my nose.”
After I first heard “Every Breath You Take,” I misheard “how my poor heart aches with every breath you take” and thought it was “I’m a pool hall ace with every breath you take.” It makes zero sense, but not all lyrics always makes sense, you know?
I realized my mistake a few years later, but flash forward to about 15 years after “Every Breath You Take” was a new song, and I was playing the song on a radio station in New Jersey. I admitted to listeners my misheard line from the song, and as soon as I got off the mic, the phone rang and a guy sheepishly told me, “Man, until you just said that right now, I have always thought it was ‘I’m a pool hall ace.’ “
So I’m glad it wasn’t just me. And that it didn’t take me 15 years to find out my mistake.
Mondegreen: Nine Inch Nails, "Kinda I Want To" (on purpose!)
If I have any stories in my childhood about a misheard lyric, they were definitely tainted by a book I received in High School called, “Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics”. The book’s title is a mondegreen in itself, a reference to incorrect Jimi Hendrix lyrics to “Purple Haze”. I was a burgeoning music nerd at this point in my life and even today when I hear some of the songs mentioned in the book, I think of the misheard lyrics. A standout favorite was from Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo” - the lyric, “There’s a quiet storm that is you” was misheard as “There’s a croissant that is you”. The book inspired a game with a friend, where we began to make song lyrics more absurd by changing only one word in them repeatedly. For example, on Nine Inch Nails’ “Kinda I Want To”, we changed all the uses of the word “to” to “shoes” with pretty hilarious results, or so we thought. For example: “kinda I want shoes/ Maybe just for tonight/We can pretend it's alright/What's the price I pay/I don't care what they say/I want shoes!” Actually, this to/shoes mix-up works pretty well for all of the songs on Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine”.