« Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Johnny Appleseed | Main | Gavin DeGraw is a good tipper, apparently »

March 9, 2010

What are your favorite misinterpreted song lyrics?

it's mariah time, baby!How many times have you listened to a song, thought you knew the words and later found out you had it all wrong?

I can't count how many times that's happened to me. 

Heck, it's happened to everybody -- most notably on Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," when many people thought he said "excuse me while I kiss this guy" (he actually said "excuse me while I kiss the sky").

In middle school, I thought in Mariah Carey's song "Hero,"she sang "synchronize the music" instead of "that a hero lies in you." Waaaaay off ...

A few months ago, when I first heard the song "Replay" by Iyaz on the radio, I thought he said "My eyeball's stuck on replay." I remember thinking, 'That doesn't make any sense. Kids these days, with their digital eyeballs.' He's actually singing "My iPod's stuck on replay."

Amie, I think has the funniest one. Growing up, she thought Steve Winwood was singing "Bake me a pie of love" instead of "Bring me a higher love."

I'm sure you've had this happen before. Which songs? And what lines?

(Photo by Getty Images)

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:59 AM | | Comments (47)


In highschool, I knew a girl who trying to sing the Cypress Hill lyric: "Insane in the membrane. Insane in the brain." Instead she was hearing "I'm flying in the Bat Plane. I'm flying in the plane."

A friend's mother once heard Bob Marley's "Jammin'" lyric: "Jammin', and I hope ya like jammin', too." as "Pajamas, and I hope ya like pajamas, too."

When I was little and my Dad played "Bad Moon Rising," I thought "...there's a bad moon on the rise" was "...there's a bathroom on the right"

A friend of mine, when listening to "Blinded by the Light" said "wrapped up like a douche" instead of "revved up like a deuce." We didn't tell her for a while.

My High School Roomate thought Rusted Roots "Send me on my way", was "Simeon my whale".

I probably dont know the real lyrics to most songs I listen, to honestly, not good at understanding mumbling singers...

My friend's younger brother first heard the song "Disco Inferno" at a family resort in Canada called Fern. For years, he was convinced the lyrics were, "Burn baby Fern, disco and learn!"

Up until three weeks ago, I thought that line from Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" was KID EVICTION. (It's actually "It ain't fiction.")

When I was a kid, I thought Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" was "Signs to the limit."

My favorite I've heard from someone else was "Hold me close young Tony Danza" instead of "Tiny Dancer." I still laugh every time I think about that.


I had a friend who always thought that Roy Orbison sang, "Phoney Baloney" instead of "Only the Lonely"

The entire lyrics to Bush's - "glycerine", and "little things".

The yacht rock classics misheard:

"Mama Chucky" for "How Much I Feel" by Ambrosia.

"I was robbed and I just can't live without you" instead of "I was wrong and I just can't live without you."

My Sister will never let me live this down. My lyrics to Night Ranger's "Sister Christian":

Motor Rev
Hot shot flight tonight
Finding Mr. Right
When nobody else is around

NR's lyrics:
You're motoring
What's your price for flight
In finding mister right
You'll be alright tonight

Brown Sugar: Some don't say she got a cod of beer. It was actually "Gold coast slaver bound for cotton fields." We never could figure out what a cod of beer was...

My son thought Secret Agent Man was Secret Asian Man.We still tease him about that.

My brother thought the song by Metallica "Sad but True" was "Saba Troll", song about mystical trolls.

Ray of Light" by Madonna... A friend of mine misheard the lyrics "And I feel like I just got home" as "And I feel like a disco ball."

my brother thought the song "smack my B***** up" was "take my picture"

we let him sing ti that way for a few years...

I would have to say Lady Gaga's Pokerface because I would never believed that day dreaming about women was what that song is about.

It's debatable but when I lived in New Rochelle, NY (Don Mclean country) everyone claimed that the American Pie lyric was "drinking whiskey in Rye" instead of "whiskey & rye". They said the bars closed early in New Rochelle so they would have to go to Rye, NY a few miles up where the bars stayed open later.

I caught my younger sister singing Janet Jackson's 80's hit "Escapades"...but she swore Janet actaully wanted to take her to the "Ice Capades".

She will never live that one down.

My grandson thought feliz navidad was "fleas on the dog"

"Wake Me Up to Pour Your Cocoa" by Wham!

Turns out it was really "Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go". I like mine better--go-go isn't a word.

Big Ole Jed Atttalina by Steve Miller Band

My fiance thought that the line "mud flowed up into Lump's pajamas" from the song Lump, by presidents of the united states of america was "mud flowed up into Lump's vagina". I'm not really sure how appropriate that is... Or how mad he'd be if he knew I was telling people that.

John Mellencamp's "Smalltown". I thought it was "doctors fear jesus in a smalltown" instead of "taught to fear jesus in a smalltown."

I thought that for years, only to be corrected recently by sam. I'm terrible at lyric intepretation!

There's actually a word for misheard lyrics: Mondegreens. See:
Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle has been collecting them for years.

Not a misinterpreataion, but a drunken faux pax...

Instead of.."It's 9 o'clock on a Saturday", my buddy sings "It's Friday night on a Saturday"

Hush, hush. Even downtown, she's so scary.

There are coffee table books on this subject. Jim nailed it yesterday.
For me it was probably "Loser" by Beck. I know now that's he's saying "I'm a loser" in Spanish but it sounded alot like "Soar over Canada". And my wife's biggest botch....."She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals.....her version..."She drives me crazy. Her long blonde hair!" instead of " no one else"

A song by Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite -- had the lyric "are the seas still dry?" I always thought she sang, "are the sheets still dry?" which sounded kind of nasty to me. Because, as you know, whoever makes the wet spot, has to sleep in it.

Esquire magazine November Issue, 1991 has a very lengthy article on Led Zepplein's "Stairway to Heaven", which covers a lot of the Montegreens/ misheard lyrics.
I cannot quote from it because I cannot immediately put my hands on it.

If you should seek it out, the cover story is, “JFK: The Movie”, which used a frame from the Zebruder home movie as the cover photo.


"I'll never beeee your pi-zza burnin'"

(Beast of Burden)

Gaslight Anthem's "The Backseat"

i always thought it was , "and in the backseat, we just tried to find some room for our needs" , but it was "room for our knees"

my way sounds better.

When I was a kid my mom thought Elvis had a big hit with "Return to Simba". Maybe she thought he was pining for an elephant?

In college, my roommate would laugh when I sang Voices Carry by 'Til Tuesday;
"Hush, keep it down now... this is Kerry"

late to the party, but definitely "wrapped up like a douche"...i still sing along to it that way!


Regarding "VoicesCarry",
My brother and his friends thought "Hush, keep it down now... voices carry" was "Hush, keep it down now... it' scary".

On Sam Cooke's Twisting The Night Away", I thought the line "Everyone's feeling great" was "Everyone's stealing grapes".

I think there probably a lot of misheard lyrics regarding "Born To Run". I think it is one of least clearly sung songs. Probably the least clearly sung song since The Kingsmen's version of "Louie, Louie".

AND Springsteen fans wanted it as the New Jersey state song. It fortunately didn't make it. Some people had problems with that "strap your hands on my engines" line.

"strap your hands on my engines"

You mean to tell me I've been singing,
"Slap your cans on my hedges" all these years? Ugh.

I know this thread is about wrong lyrics, but I'm impressed with this guys interpretation.

Erasure - Oh L'amour

Oh Lenore, broke my heart and now I'm naked for you

instead of -
Oh L'amour, broke my heart and now I'm aching for you

I always thought that Akon's Right Now said "I wanna make love right na na na" but found out that it actually says "I wanna make up right na na na." I still like my version better!

"Highway To Hell" by AC/DC - My cousin and I were at a concert, and I hadn't heard this song at the time. She was singing along, and trying to teach me the lines, but all I heard was
"I'm baking chicken!"
Oops! :-P

The Police: Every Breath You Take, I sang proud and loudly: I'm a pool hall ace!

Not really the same thing, but one of my top pet peeves in life is when people misunderstand Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" and assume it's about losing someone at an early age when really it's about getting out and experiencing life because no matter the age at which you die, you die young if you didn't live your life by eschewing your Catholicism to bone Billy Joel. AAAHHHHH. I get really annoyed when people envoke that song in response to a tragic death of a young person, but how can you have that conversation.... "uh, nice try, but that's not what the song is about" as the person is mourning a friend? Don't think so.

Carly Simon's "It's the stuff that dreams are made of..." heard as "It's the stuff that greens tomatoes..."

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "u" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected