Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Here's a column I wrote for the local paper about a year ago on misheard song lyrics.

By Deana Nall

"Your love is like bad venison! Bad venison is what I need!" -- Misheard lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine"

Ever notice how finding out the real words to a song makes you realize the song wasn't nearly as interesting as you thought it was?
I don't know if I have a hearing problem or what but I'm always mishearing the words to songs.
It could be genetic. My dad spent much of his life thinking The Chordettes wanted Mr. Sandman to bring them a tree.
And thanks to, I know I'm not alone. You can sit for hours at this site and scroll through scads of misunderstood song lyrics sent in by people just like me.
The Kiss This Guy site was started by a guy who thought that in "Purple Haze," Jimi Hendrix was singing, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy," instead of "...kiss the sky." The guy realized his mistake and a Web site was born.
And it's a funny Web site. I mean a laugh-until-you-have-to-change-your-pants kind of funny.
There's the person who thought Michael Jackson was singing "Fettuccine’s at my door” instead of “Billie Jean’s not my lover.”
There’s also the guy who thought “Oh beautiful for spaceship guys” were the real words to “America the Beautiful.”
I have my own compilation of misheard song lyrics that I’ve been too embarrassed to submit to the site.
I’m dating myself just a tad here, but there used to be a band named Quarterflash that was famous for about a week in 1981. The lead singer was a girl who played saxophone and had spiky hair. Quarterflash’s one hit went like this: “I’m gonna harden my heart. I’m gonna swallow my tears.”
Well, I thought saxophone girl was threatening to swallow her teeth. For years, every time I heard that song, I would think, “If she’s whining about losing her man, she’d better get used to it because no one’s going to want to date a girl with no teeth.”
And that's not all. Most of the world heard Don Henley sing “Your brown skin shining in the sun” in his song “The Boys of Summer.”
Me? I heard “Your brains get shattered in the sun.”
My worst misheard lyric was from Toto’s “Africa.” For about 18 years, the most I could make out of one line in the song was “Sure is killin’ the jerro rising like the limpers above the surrogate eaves.”
Now, I didn’t know what a jerro was, or why anyone would want to kill one, or who the limpers were, or why they were limping, or how eaves could be surrogate, or what any of those things had to do with Africa.
Then I ran across the actual lyrics: “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.”
Kilimanjaro...the Serengeti...those are places in -- Africa!
Finally, it all made sense.
My all-time favorite misheard lyric isn’t mine. It’s one I found at Remember “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease?” John Travolta didn’t sing the words to this song very clearly -- possibly because it happened toward the end of the movie when Olivia Newton-John was hopping around in front of him in those black leather pants that actually had to be sewn onto her body.
Anyway, the song opens with John wailing, “I got the blues, they’re multiplyin’!”
My fellow lyric mishearer understood him to say, “I got shoes! They’re made of plywood!”
Enough of this for now. My husband just came home from work, and in the spirit of the words Jimi Hendrix never sang...
“Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”


  • At Tue Mar 29, 01:51:00 PM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    We listened to the beatles a lot growing up. Some of the words of Michelle are in French but I always sang it..
    Michelle, my belle, Sunday marquis won't play piano song. Play piano song.

  • At Thu Mar 31, 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    Your blog was good for a hearty laugh today!

    You left out one of the most popular misheard lyrics:

    "There's a bathroom on the right," (There's a bad moon on the rise, Credence Clearwater Revival.)

  • At Thu Mar 31, 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Blogging by Tina said…

    BTW, I'm being picky, but the John Travolta lyric is actually, "I got chills, they're multiplyin'."

    I was in high school when Grease came out. I have now been dated as old.

  • At Wed Apr 06, 07:08:00 AM, Blogger Chris Benjamin said…

    This is a great article Deana. For me, one of the all time misunderstood song lyrics is a song that is probably better known than the band that played it. Anyone remember Mr. Mister? (Sound like a backyard toy from Ronco) Their song Kyrie used the Greek phrase "Kyrie Eleison" (Lord have mercy) from high church liturgy. But in my pre-clergy youth all I could understand was: "Carrying a laser down the road that I must travel . . ."

  • At Thu Apr 07, 08:36:00 PM, Blogger Kyle said…

    I know this is a little different but Eric Ehlig and I were learning multiplication tables in second or third grade and decided to rewrite the lyrics to a hymn at church based on what we were learning.

    "Mercy there was great and grace was free/
    Pardon there was multiplied to me..."


    "Pardon there was multiplied by three."

    To this day I cannot sing that song in church without giggling. If Eric is there with me? Forget it.


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