Today’s guest post is by Barb in Blackhoof.
I have fond memories of listening to TLGMS In the barn. While milking, I would sing (and sometimes dance) along to many of the songs. “City of Democrats” la, la, la. Wow. How strange that there’s actually a city of democrats. Pretty cool, huh? Hmmm.
How many times have you been singing a song for years, with lyrics that you figured were correct, only to find out that you had mistaken? For example, Dale and Mike were playing “City of Immigrants” (by Steve Earle) not city of democrats. Drat. I had already made plans to move the herd.
There are a lot of songs for which I have my own lyrics, I guess. I don’t hear so well. But it wasn’t until John Prine (at a concert in Duluth) spoke of “mondegreens” in an intro to one of his songs, that I learned there was a term for these mis-heard lyrics. John said a fan requested a song that was her favorite – “It’s a happy enchilada and you think you’re gonna drown. That’s the way that the world goes ’round.” The actual lyrics go: “It’s a half an inch of water, and you think you’re gonna drown.” This is a very common phenomenon – and not a terribly new one.
Sylvia Wright coined the term “mondegreen” in a 1954 Atlantic article. As a child, young Sylvia had listened to a folk song that included the lines “They had slain the Earl of Moray/And Lady Mondegreen.” As is customary with misheard lyrics, she didn’t realize her mistake for years. The song was not about the tragic fate of Lady Mondegreen, but rather, the continuing plight of the good earl: “They had slain the Earl of Moray/and laid him on the green.” (this paragraph from Mondegreens: A Short Guide by Gavin Edwards.)
And if you really want a good chuckle, look at the columns by Jon Carroll – an example: “Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of Tang down in New Orleans?”
And here are some of mine….. can you guess the correct words and artist?
Oh, a Tree in Motion (from my teen-age, little teeny transistor radio)
Solid Citizen (this one is way off and very embarrassing)
Salivate, Salivate, Dance to the Music (this one is pretty easy)
Have you got a favorite mondegreen?