Saturday, June 9, 2007

She's Got a Chicken to Ride...

This is how lunatics entertain themselves:

A "Mondegreen" is a misunderstood song lyric. The term was invented when a certain author misheard "upon the green" as "mondegreen". The example I hear of most is "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" instead of "kiss the sky". You can find mondegreen web sites all over the web, just Google "misheard song lyrics". There's a good database at

While some are more well-known than others, none of them are universal. There's oodles of different ways people sing the lyrics to "Louie Louie". And just ask 10 different people what Springsteen says after "Blinded by the light..." I think my favorite Mondegreen is the one Phoebe mentions in an episode of Friends, the Elton John song that says, "Hold me closer Tony Danza..."

I have a slight hearing problem. Noises aren't too quiet; I hear volume just fine. But if there's any interfering noises, I have trouble picking out the sounds I want to hear. So I have a big problem with song lyrics, because the instruments are too distracting. As such, I can have a favorite song that I've heard for years, without ever having memorized the lyrics. So I got in the habit of making up my own.

You probably pity KJ about right now.

These days, most of my alternate lyrics aren't really "mondegreens", as I've pretty much gotten into the habit of singing the wrong words to every song on the radio, whether I understand the actual words or not. You can probably blame Weird Al. He's always been one of my favorite performers, and ever since I first heard of him in the 80s, I've been coming up with my own alternate lyrics for popular songs. The main difference being, I suck at it. In college, my buddy Alan and I came up with lots of odd lyrics, and we completely rewrote "Here's a Quarter" with our version titled, "Ned McWhorter Just Fell Down The Stairs". ("Call someone who glistens... and might live on Spam... or one of them chocolate eclairs...")

A couple of years later I started singing this version of the song "I Swear": "I swear... Like a sailor with tacks in his boot... I swear... Like a soldier who just shot his foot... Whenever there's trouble, whenever there's pain, Whenever I just washed the car and it rains, I swear..."

But most of the time it's not nearly that complex or thought out. There's a lot of commonly used words in songs that I just automatically substitute with other words, often without even thinking about it. For example, I often replace "love" with "slug". This works well both as a noun ("You Can't Hurry Slugs") and a verb ("Slug The One You're With"). However, if the context has someone "falling in" love, then I replace love with "lava" ("Don't Fall In Lava").

I also replace "peace" with "peas", for example: "Carry on my wayward son... There'll be peas when you have corn." One of the sillier things I do is replace "way" with "curds" (curds and whey, get it?), as in, "Oooooh, baby I love your curds..." On the rare occasion I hear the song "I Fall To Pieces, I sing the words, ""I swallow Reese's..." Lets see... instead of "Heaven Is A Place On Earth", I sing, "Heaven Is A Place With Smurfs."

One December at work, the radio station would alternate between Christmas songs and classic rock. It was kind of surreal, one minute you'd be listening to "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", the next minute they'd be playing the Stones' "Paint It Black". Which led me to start singing, "I see a reindeer and I want it painted black..." Now that you've read that, I dare you to try to hear the song again without thinking that.

Sometimes I'll come up with something subconsiously, and sing it without even knowing I'm singing it, regardless of who's around. Luckily only KJ was in the car when I belted out this highly perverse alternate verse for "I Will Follow Him" (Warning, not for young eyes): "I love him, I love him, I love him, and when he comes I'll swallow, I'll swallow, I'll swallow..." I've probably ruined that song for you for life.

Anybody else got any favorites they want to post here?