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The Most Misquoted Song Lyrics

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Misquoted Song Lyrics

We’re all unreliable narrators, that’s why when asked to recall what you did last Tuesday, or the lyrics to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s ‘Blinded By The Light’, the result is a jumbled mess of false memories and misquoted song lyrics like these: “Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche when you’re rollin’ in the night.”

While Bruce Springsteen first recorded the song, it wasn’t until Mann covered it, that the song revved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and spawned a hilarious ode to female sanitary products.

Blame it on particular annunciation or the general population’s selective hearing, whatever the case may be, we’ve all been guilty of mishearing and perpetuating misquoted song lyrics to some of the biggest hits in music history. In fact, it’s so common there’s even a technical term for it: mondegreen.

In a 1954 piece for Harper’s magazine, writer Sylvia Wright spoke of one of her favourite verses in Reliques Of Ancient English Poetry, a 1765 book of popular poems and ballads. It began with the lines, “Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands / Oh, where hae ye been? / They hae slain the Earl Amurray, / And Lady Mondegreen.” Except there was no lady to speak of, Amurray was slain and they “laid him on the green”.

While most people don’t belt out ancient English poetry in the shower, they have misconstrued Jimi Hendrix’s sexual orientation on the iconic hit ‘Purple Haze’ with “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” among many other offenses.

This oratory issue spans both sides of the pond, according to data from Spotify. While Mann and Hendrix hold the majority in misquoting stateside, 28 poll respondents in the UK are under the impression that “Sweet Dreams are made of… cheese” in the classic Eurythmics song.

Coming in a close second is repeat offender, Elton John. You can chalk this up to the Americans, who believed the opening track on John’s 1971 album Madman Across The Water, ‘Tiny Dancer’, was really an ode the sitcom star Tony Danza. Just a few years later on his ’73 hit ‘Bennie And The Jets’ people mistook his sartorial observations “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit,” to be “She’s got electric boobs, a bowl of soup”.

Whether it’s a Freudian slip or just rubbish radio quality, here are some other songs with misquoted song lyrics that have been mangled and otherwise distorted by the general public.

‘Blank Space’, Taylor Swift
“All the lonely Starbucks lovers”
Taylor Swift isn’t wistfully recalling unrequited love over lattes but talking about her old flames.
Actual lyric: “Got a long list of ex-lovers”

‘Beast Of Burden’, The Rolling Stones
“I’ll never leave your pizza burning”
Sadly, Mick is not pledging to never to burn your crust but rather pledging never to be a pushover.
Actual lyric: “I’ll never be your beast of burden”

‘Hotel California’, Eagles
“On a dark desert highway, cool whip in my hair”
Is this Don Henley’s ode to the desert or desserts?
Actual lyric: “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair”

‘Take A Chance On Me’, ABBA
“If you change your mind Jackie Chan, I’m the first in line Jackie Chan”
Rumble In The Bronx was released in 1996, but that didn’t stop people from thinking ABBA’s a cappella vocal rounds were about the martial-arts star.
Actual lyric: “If you change your mind take a chance, I’m the first in line, take a chance”

‘Good Vibrations’, The Beach Boys
“I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, she’s giving me her citations”
Are The Beach Boys excited about female flirtations or a woman’s rigorous commitment to formatting abridged material?
Actual lyric: I’m pickin’ up good vibrations, she’s giving me excitations”

‘Food for Thought’, UB40
“I’m a prima dona, dying in the dust. Waiting for the manna coming from the west”.
Is UB40 speaking of a high maintenance expat dying for exported moisturizer or an indictment of politicians’ refusal to relieve African famine?
Actual Lyric: “Ivory Madonna, dying in the dust. Waiting for the manna coming from the west”.

‘I Try’, Macy Gray
“I blow bubbles when you are not here”
Macy is not merely bored but devastated when her lover is away.
Actual lyric: “My world crumbles when you are not near”

‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, Bon Jovi
“It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not”
This striving 80s hair metal anthem refers to self-motivation rather than nudity helping you to achieve your goals.
Actual lyric: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not”

‘Good Times’ Theme Song, Jim Gilstrap and Blinky Williams
“Good Times, hangin’ in a chow line”.
Even to the most trained ear, this lyric can be tricky, so much so it inspired a skit by Dave Chappelle on his eponymous TV show. After testing quiz show contestants on their knowledge of black culture, they’re all stumped by the lyric in this catchy TV theme song from the 70s sitcom.
Actual lyric: “Good times, hanging in and jiving”.

‘Ask’, The Smiths
“Because if it’s not love, then it’s the bum, the bum, the bum, the bum, the bum, the bum, the bum, that will bring us together”.
Morrissey has always been mum on the subject of his sexuality, but that doesn’t stop people from speculating on the topic and this misheard lyric only fuels the fire.
Actual lyric: “Because if it’s not love, then it’s the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, that will bring us together”.

82 Comments

82 Comments

  1. Dion

    January 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    REM sidewinder sleeps tonite

    “Holy Jamaica”
    “Call me when you try to wake her up”

    Who would have thought lol

  2. bodziol1

    January 6, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    ABBA
    Take A Chance on Me

  3. DD

    January 6, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    ‘Freedom 90’ (George Michael)
    “Went back home, got a brand new face for the poison MTV”
    (“The boys on MTV”)

  4. LWF58

    January 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Two of mine.

    Blind Melon’s 1992 release “No Rain”:
    I heard: “i like to keep my teeth extracted.”
    Real lyric: “I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today.”

    Journey’s 1981 release “Open Arms”. (Not really misheard, but a Freudian substitution.)
    I sang: “So here I am with broken arms,”
    Real lyric: “So here I am with open arms,”

  5. Charley Jeffries

    January 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    The writer of this article must not proof read his material, or just doesn’t do his research. From the second paragraph : “While Bruce Springsteen first recorded the song, it wasn’t until Mann covered it, that the song revved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100”. Umm, this was Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s song, they first recorded it in 1976, Springsteen was the one who released the cover of the song.

    • Kevin Loxton

      January 8, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      It was released by Springsteen in ’73.

    • Paul

      January 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Springsteen wrote the song, idiot. Do some research before making stupid comments.

      • martin

        January 18, 2018 at 8:03 pm

        there are no idiots here, Sir, so please don’t express yourself this way.

    • Alan Young

      January 10, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Look before you leap to criticise. Springsteen penned Blinded by the Light!

    • Ken Clem

      January 10, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      You’re wrong Charley. Bruce recorded his song in 1973. Manfred recorded the cover version three years later.

    • Thomas Cooke

      January 7, 2018 at 3:17 am

      Your the one who needs to check your facts. The release dates you claim may be correct, but you need to check who actually wrote the song and recorded it first. It was of course Mr Bruce Springsteen.

    • Ray

      January 14, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      This was written and recorded by Springsteen in 1973, 3 years before Manfred Mann

    • rik wheatley

      January 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Doh! Think you better do some research of your own there, Charlie.

    • Bryton

      January 15, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Swing and a miss. Please don’t try…iyou know what? It’s easier to just point out that you’re dumb

  6. Susan Nash

    January 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I can see clearly now the pain has gone,
    I can see all the icicles in my wayyy.

    I’m partly deaf so I’ve mangled a lot of lyrics. I still can’t correct the Heart song Magic Man. I hear it as Magic Mirror.

    • Matt LeFevre

      January 9, 2017 at 1:28 am

      Try ” obsticals” in place of icicles .

    • Steve

      January 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      “I can see Deidre now Lorraine has gone …”

    • Heidi

      January 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

      The version that has stuck with me all these years is “I can see clearly now the pain has gone. I can see all popsicles in my way.

  7. Bill Dallier

    January 8, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    How about Slow motion Walter, that fire engine guy. Sung to the chorus of Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.

    • Dani

      January 11, 2017 at 3:37 am

      That is a good one! I was going to say Deep Purple’s Highway Star, with what I hear as, “She makes coleslaw in revenge.”

    • Glenn

      January 14, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      A young woman I used to work with was given a lift every day by a huge Ritchie Blackmore fan. I asked her what she thought of the music – she said she wasn’t a fan, but quite liked the one called “Small Cup Of Water”!

  8. Simon Clatke

    January 8, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Who you gonna call? Those bastards.
    Ray Parker Jr.

  9. Jim Farmer

    January 8, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Eddie Money, Two tickets to paradise, became, under the right circumstances, Two Chickens in a pot o’ rice.

  10. Caroline

    January 8, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Springsteen wrote Blinded by the light and recorded it on his first album in 1973, do some research before you comment Charley Jeffries

  11. GRAHAM LEVITT

    January 8, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    dudley moore singing strawberry fair..was last line shan’t be round tomorrow,the donkeys ‘pinched all the strawberries or… shan’t be round tomorrow,the donkey’s pissed on the strawberries? still can’t make my mind up

  12. GRAHAM LEVITT

    January 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Dudley Moore singing Strawberry Fair.. the last line… does he sing,Shan’t be round tomorrow,the donkey’s pinched all the strawberries… or shan’t be round tomorrow,the donkey’s pissed on the strawberries.. still cannot tell which he sang

    • jan daizeil

      January 9, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      I think you`ll find that was Anthony Newly Graham.

  13. chip

    January 9, 2017 at 1:42 am

    What about CCR. ..there’s a bathroom on the right

    • WildBill57

      January 9, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      That’s my favorite. Can’t believe it wasn’t included in the article.

    • Daz

      January 11, 2017 at 4:28 am

      I hear “There’s a baboon on the right “

  14. Suzanne

    January 9, 2017 at 6:29 am

    For Prince’s Little Red Corvette” I heard “Pay the rent collect”. And Rolling Stone’s Heartbreaker with your 44″ became “Heartbreaker with your bowling ball”.

  15. John

    January 9, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Beach boys: “Since you put me down there’s been owls pukin’ in my bed.”

  16. Rene Mikkelsen

    January 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Whitesnake’s (or Bobby Bland’s) “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” can easily become “Anal Love In The Heart Of The City”….

  17. Elwood

    January 10, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Everclear , Santa Monica , ” I am still living with your goat”

  18. jill

    January 10, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    The Bee Gees…Bald Headed Woman…actual lyrics, More Than a Woman

  19. Sweeters

    January 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    My mate was always convinced that the Isley Brothers’ Summer Breeze had the lyric “Blowin’ through the jazz men in my mind”. He plain wouldn’t accept any talk of jasmine.

  20. Andrrw

    January 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Johnny Nash has always sung ‘I can see Dierdre now Lorraine has gone’ in my mind.
    And Macy Gray ‘ I wear goggles when you’re not here’

  21. scott

    January 10, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    I always loved the Steve Miller song…….Big old jed had a light on

    • BOBBY

      March 23, 2018 at 1:45 am

      BINGO JED AND LEILA (LIE – LA)

  22. Howard

    January 11, 2017 at 6:29 am

    In the Rascals’ “Groovin'”: “Life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie….groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon.” (endlessly is correct). And for years I thought Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady” was “Do the Funky Lady”.

  23. Katherine Byrd

    January 15, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Sand in the clouds.

  24. Jeff Logan

    May 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Don’t forget to “Fire all of your guns at Watson” before you explode into space….

  25. Tommy

    July 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    The holes in your stocking they are calling me a fool,real lyric,the whole town is talking.It hurts me by Elvis Presley.

  26. Jon

    July 21, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    If you don’t kick your feet, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding, if you don’t kick your feet!

  27. Bob

    July 22, 2017 at 3:48 am

    And nobody ever heard
    ” my ears are alight”?
    Desmond Dekker and de aces, mon…
    ( the Isrealites)

  28. Sharon Gray

    December 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Billy Gray, best guitarist ( should be included in your list) (from Ypsilanti, MI)

  29. Terry Lewis

    January 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    UB40 – I gotta one inch head (One in Ten)

    • Chris Pampling

      March 19, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      … another on a lead…

  30. Thomas

    January 14, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Bryan Adams – summer of 69. The opening line ‘I got my first real sex dream – played it till my fingers bled’

  31. John Piper

    January 14, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Louis Armstrong. “What a wonderful world” Is full of mis-heard lyrics. For example :- “Icy trees of green” ” The Brian Blessed day the dogs says goodnight”

  32. Rich

    January 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    How about this Beatles classic from Pepper….”Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly. The girl with colitis goes by.”

  33. Rich

    January 14, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    How about this Beatles classic from Pepper: “Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly. The girl with colitis goes by.”

  34. Monica

    January 14, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    When I was a kid I thought the Raspberries song “Go All the Way” was “Please Go Away”. He was just holding the “o” in go for a really long time. LOL!

  35. Sandra

    January 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    The Earl of Murray not “Amurray”

  36. Ian

    January 14, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Madonna and Last night I dreamt of lumbago

  37. Dennis

    January 14, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” was heard as:
    “Might as well face it, your a dick is a glove”

  38. Dennis

    January 14, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady”
    “Dude loves guzzling gravy”

  39. Rick

    January 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Dylan hearing “ I get high “ in I Want To Hold Your Hand “, and me hearing “ But If you go carrying pictures of Jim around“ , in Beatles Revolution. Thought John was referring to James Paul McCartney✌️✌️✌️✌️

  40. Brian Stanbrook

    January 14, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    Bohemian Rhapsody – “spare him his life from these pork sausages”.

  41. Daisy doo

    January 14, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Why does it always rain on me is it because I was born near sella field,

  42. Ray

    January 15, 2018 at 1:12 am

    To my embarrassment I thought lady ga ga was singing cheery pie cheery pie instead of read my poker face

  43. Jeff

    January 15, 2018 at 6:12 am

    I am an ultimate KISS fan and thought Gene was singing “I was born outta man pus” ….during GOD OF THUNDER

  44. Brian Pell

    January 15, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Wow some great examples there.
    I’m amazed that no-one included “He’s dancin’ with the chicken slacks” from “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke. It should be “chick in slacks” of course…

  45. Doug Legere

    January 15, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Tom Cochran , if I had a rocket launcher I sang if I had a rocking lawn chair.

  46. Rob Dickinson

    January 15, 2018 at 11:09 am

    A friend thought SLF were singing Trevor’s a lobster’ and not Alternative Ulster.

  47. Dogarde

    January 16, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    With reference connection to another comment:
    “Small cup of wotah!
    PAPAYA in the FIGHT!”

  48. Dogarde

    January 16, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Actually thought Eric Burdon was singing, “MONORAIL” when I was young.

  49. Gregster

    January 16, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    ELO “Strange Magic” I hear “strains my dick” listened a thousand times, and I think regardless of what the official lyrics say, he is singing “strains my dick”!! Just an F U to the censors.

  50. Art

    January 17, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Barry Mcguire’s ” Eve of Destruction” Think of all the hay there is in Red China “

  51. Heidi

    January 17, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    My best friend’s mother was outraged in the 1970’s that the K C and the Sunshine Band’s song “Keep it Coming Love” was allowed on the radio. She thought he kept singing “Keep it common law”.

  52. Andrew Rodgers

    January 18, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Buzzcocks, Fast Cars ‘Sooner or later you’re going to listen to Darth Vader’ is actually ‘Sooner or later you’re going to listen to Ralph Nader’.

  53. Andy Davies

    January 18, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    What about :- I’m your penis, I’m your fire, I’m your desire.Was it bananarama?

    • Lee

      January 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      First by shocking blue then many years later bananarama

  54. Mickey

    January 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Eric Clapton, She no like, she like, she no like, croquet.

  55. Jim

    January 29, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    “There’s a bathroom on the right”
    Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” (Should be “There’s a bad moon on the rise”)

  56. Brian

    January 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Must have taken several minutes to make up all this garbage.

  57. AMillado

    March 21, 2018 at 12:38 am

    “I’m not talking ’bout the linen…” = “I’m not talking ’bout movin’ in…”

    From “I’d Really Like to See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley

  58. Frank Landsman

    March 21, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Roger Meddow Taylor’s “Drowse”
    The brighter sun and the easy oles (on all Spanish and Latin American guitar chord sites) for “The brighter sun and the easier lays” (original lyrics).

  59. Jamey Vegas

    April 16, 2018 at 2:34 am

    The Romantics – Talking in Your Sleep

    My version “IQ the secret sensor key”

    Real “I hear the secrets that you keep”

  60. JSkar

    April 16, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Louie, Louis
    Nuff said!

  61. John Aughinbaugh

    April 16, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Instead of “Our Lips are Sealed”,I thought the Go-Gos we’re singing,”Honest,Cecile”.

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