Misheard Lyrics

_540For years I thought that the opening line of Desmond Dekker’s The Israelites was “Wake up in the morning, baked beans for breakfast.” (It’s actually, Wake up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir.”)

People sometimes ask me what some of EC’s lyrics actually are. One person simply could not decipher a line from The Beat. Until I set them straight, “My neighbour’s revving up his Vauxhall Viva” had been, “My neighbour’s had enough to piss a boxhall baby.” A surreal image indeed.

I bet you’ve all misheard some lyric or other, only to be put right years later…


Posted in Music, Uncategorized | 40 Comments

40 Responses to Misheard Lyrics

  1. GSR says:

    I was working at Ford Motor Company in the 1980’s (having been an EC & the Attractions fan) since ’78 and we had a fellow who immigrated to the US from England. He was a manager, older and higher in the “org chart” but he was friendly and one day I asked him, “what’s a Vauxhall Viva”. He chuckled and told me it was a crappy old British car. Then asked me why I asked and I said “oh never mind” and walked away. 🙂

  2. Stainsby Girl says:

    I only remembered this yesterday after hearing Otis Redding’s version of Satisfaction in my local coffee / guitar shop.

    When I was a kid I remember thinking the line “I can’t get no girl reaction” was actually I can’t get no curry action”.

    At the time I don’t think I’d even tried a curry.

  3. Ron Bailey says:

    In the Beatles Strawberry Fields there’s a line … Living is easy with eyes closed … for years I thought they were singing … Living is easy with nice clothes … Oh well.

  4. Bruce of America says:

    Sh$$, I forgot the best one. In ELO’s “Don’t Bring me Down”.

    Don’t bring me down BRUCE! or

    “groose” ????? I’m reading that he made the word up.

  5. Bruce of America says:

    Ok, here’s one people may smirk at, but it’s a good song. Written by Mike Nesmith, “The girl that I knew somewhere” Btw, whoever played the bass on some of their songs was pretty good. Chip Douglas?

    The last verses,

    And if your love was not a game I only have myself to blame
    That’s as may be, I can’t explain
    Just ask the girl that I knew somewhere

    I always thought it was “I can’t explain the past, the girl that I knew somewhere”

    Also check out the bass on “you just may be the one”

    • Bruce says:

      I prefer your lyric. Yep, the Monkees were the front for the best songwriters and musicians they could come up. The first ‘boy band’.

    • Mike Miller says:

      Some years ago, Chip Douglas produced a local group at my studio and played bass as well. What super guy! He was here for a couple of weeks so we got to talk quite a lot, mostly about the mid 60’s LA folk/rock scene. Fascinating!

      • Bruce says:

        Who else did the Monkees use? Were some of the Wrecking Crew involved?

      • Mike Miller says:

        Carol Kaye states the group of “first call” players at the time were never referred to as “The Wrecking Crew” and that Hal Blaine came up with the name in promoting his own book in 1990. Roughly about 60 musicians in the “crew”. They played on the first two Monkee’s albums at the very least.

      • Bruce says:

        Thank you for that. The first person I heard using the name Wrecking Crew was a producer called Andy Paley who I did some sessions for with Pete. He anecdotal repertoire was more centred around Brian Wilson and his doctor, though. Harrowing tales.

      • David Crosby says:

        Bruce, You should check out the documentary about the Wrecking Crew, http://www.wreckingcrewfilm.com/ – you might want to ignore the comment on the top of the page…

        I’ve always enjoyed the work by you and Pete on JWH’s first two records.

      • Bruce says:

        It’s OK — Phil Spector said the same thing about the Attractions 🙂

      • Mike Miller says:

        The Attractions were probably the real “Wrecking Crew”. Play almost any style very well and bust up some shit too along the way.

      • Bruce says:

        Shame the Wrecking Crew never got together with Wreckless Eric.

    • GSR says:

      The Girl That I Knew Somewhere is a fine song. My favorite Monkees song. Did you know there are two versions of it? The first with Mike singing lead and the second with Mickey doing lead. The first version is more “raw” and may in fact be the first recording of the Monkees playing their own instruments (with Chip Douglass providing fine bass work). The second is more polished but both versions are good. Likewise “You May Just Be The One”. I just saw the Monkees last year here in Michigan (minus D. Jones). They were good and they did “You May Just….”. Sadly they didn’t do “The Girl…”.

  6. Bruce of America says:

    Not even Frank Sinatra Jr.

  7. David Crosby says:

    I love this of The Clash’s COMPLETE CONTROL


  8. Ed Morgan says:

    And then there are lyrics that are so bad you only wah you had misheard them

  9. Paul Keeble says:

    I thought Madonna had lost it completely when I heard her sing

    “Last night I dreamt of some dago”

  10. mark gardner says:

    Couldn’t get my eleven-year old head around Jimi Hendrix singing ‘Excuse me while I kiss this guy’. I always thought he was a ladies’ man. Decades later, someone put me right. Too late for Jimi though.

  11. Rachel says:

    “Is this the way to Amarillo? / Every night I’ve been HUMPING my pillow…”

    As heard by my grandmother many years ago – and it’s all that the rest of us have heard ever since!

    • Bruce says:

      Oh, good, a rude one.
      My ex-wife Suzanne came to me when she first heard the Village People’s YMCA, asking how they could get away with such a disgusting lyric on the radio.
      “What?” I asked.
      “Young man, I was watching you shoot!” she replied.
      It’s “I was once in your shoes!” I told her.

  12. Toby Jackson says:

    Someone should mention this …


    • Bruce says:

      There’s a name for everything…

      A mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning.

  13. Mike Miller says:

    Can’t overlook CCR’s “There’s a bathroom on the right”

  14. David Witherington says:

    Hi, Bruce…yes indeed! You know how much I love “Get Happy!!” Well, in 1980, I would flip that record over again and again until it was time to wear headphones so my family could get some sleep…ah, rock and roll. Even then, it was YEARS before I deciphered a lyric from “King Horse.” I always heard “Now I know that you’re all King Horse, between tenderness and brute force” as “BUILT” with tenderness and brute force.” I think this is because EC stressed the first syllable in “between,” which didn’t ring right in my ears. Nothing major there, but I’ll always remember that. This should be a fun post to read. If I think of more, I’ll chime in again. 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      One of our regular commenters has discovered the line ‘no more Facebook’ in New Lace Sleeves. But finding these things in EC’s vocals is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • David Witherington says:

      Hey, man…I just thought of an entire EC song that I heard as “?!!?!!!?” – I’m talking about “Luxembourg,” of course. That’s a whole barrel of fish in one song. 🙂

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