Mondegreens, or misheard lyrics, happen to us all. It just seems to be a natural byproduct of taking language and setting it to music. No matter how good a singer’s diction is, someone somewhere is going to misunderstand a word or phrase. The first time we aired today’s episode (we’re all traveling so it’s a repeat) we heard from well over a hundred listeners with various, often hilarious, examples of mondegreens. These included the usual famous examples – Jimi Hendrix’s “’scuse me while I kiss this guy” (instead of “’scuse me while I kiss the sky”) and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s potentially helpful “there’s a bathroom on the right” (instead of “there’s a bad moon on the rise”), but everyone seems to have their own personal set of mondegreens.
In the '80s, there was a TV commercial for a Paul McCartney hits collection, and as usual it featured little two- or three-second clips of various songs, most of which anyone listening would’ve known. But there was one clip that showed Paul darting up to the mic to sing, with a rousingly harmonized chorus, the words “my brain thing.” Now, I knew that those couldn’t actually be the words, but with nothing more to go on, it was impossible to figure out what the real song and the real words were. Plus, I didn’t really care to find out. Today, it occurred to me that I could probably find out the real words by googling Paul and his discography and looking at titles that started with the word “my.” Bingo. The song (a tedious number, as it turns out, despite being co-written with Elvis Costello) is called “My Brave Face.”
But it’ll always be “My Brain Thing” to me. [Watch the video below.]
Ever bellow out a favorite song at a party, only to be told after that those aren’t really the words? Tell us your mondegreen story…