The Word - Vol 9
According to Wikipedia, a Mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that it gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or song and are unable to hear a lyric clearly, so substitute words that sound similar and make some kind of sense. Haha, sometimes!
The American writer Sylvia Wright is credited for coining the term in 1954. She recalled her mother reading the Scottish ballad, “The Bonny Earl of Murray” and misheard the words “layd him on the green” as Lady Mondegreen.
Mondegreens often occur because the English language is rich in homonyms, words that may not be spelled the same, or mean the same, but they sound the same!
Do you have a Mondegreen in your repertoire?
I think most people do, although some don’t know it until it’s been pointed out to them by someone who knows the correct lyrics.
I’ll share one of mine with you. It’s in a song by England Dan and John Ford Coley. The song is called, “I’d really love to see you tonight.” My mixup came with this part of the song.
The lyrics are:
“I’m not talking ‘bout moving in,
And I don’t want to change your life.
But there’s a warm wind blowing, the stars are out,
and I’d really love to see you tonight.”
Seems pretty straightforward? Well, not to my ear. As a radio DJ I must have played that song over a thousand times, and right from the first play, my ear was hearing this:
“I’m not talking bout Molybdenum!
And I don’t want to change your life.”
And for the life of me, every time I played that song, or heard it, I’d ask myself, why would anyone include a silvery-white metal that is commonly used in the production of alloys, to increase hardness, strength, electrical conductivity, and resistance to wear and corrosion. Yes, that Molybdenum.
I was sure that’s what I was hearing, and it wasn’t until I heard someone singing along to the song, with the proper lyrics, that I realized I had created my own Mondegreen!
Kids these days don’t know how good they have it. A quick click to Google, and they can get the lyrics to almost every song ever written. We had to sing it wrong for years before being corrected by someone who had it right!
And there have been some good ones over the years. A quick search and you’ll find among others:
I’ll leave you with not a Mondegreen, but a sign that was posted outside a cheese shop, (with apologies to The Eurythmics)🎶 Sweet dreams are made of cheese
Who am I to diss a brie
I cheddar the world
And the Feta cheese,
Everybody’s looking for Stilton. 🎶
Until next week ...
🎵 Bathroom on the right?
1 // Led Zepagain makes a triumphant return to Blue Frog after a four-year pandemic hiatus. The band rocked the place and sounded better than ever.
2 // Duke Robillard warms up in our Control Room prior to his 2022 show. Looking forward to his return on March 18, 2023
3 // In 1970, Blood, Sweat and Tears was one of the biggest bands in the world. They had exploded on the scene with both daring and promise, selling millions of records, and winning multiple Grammy Awards. Their future was limitless. And then it all went wrong.
Be sure to check out the documentary in March: “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS?”
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2