mondegreen. it’s a mondegreen. this is not an anomaly. mondegreens happen.
it is stunning how often we catch ourselves singing nonsensical lyrics to songs we have listened to through time: ever since the dark ages of record players in the living room to cassette players next to our beds to transistor radios on our beach towels to giant portable cd players with carrying handles equipped with batteries so you could lug them anywhere to ipods that plugged into the car to phones that had-it-all to, well, record players again.
at the top of our lungs we will sing these lyrics – they sound like what is being sung, but who really knows, anyway.
then, one day, you see them written down, you read the jacket (in caveman behavior), you glance at the with-lyrics youtube, you google them…and suddenly…you realize you had no idea what the song was about and you had made up words that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
or, in the case of “don’t bring me down” by ELO, they were the ones making no sense. because for years and years and years when they sing the chorus “don’t bring me dowwwwwwwn”, i – and the rest of the singing-along-world – would finish it with “bruce!” so it would go like this: don’t bring me dowwwwwwn…..bruce!….don’t bring me dowwwwwwn…….bruce!….don’t bring me dowwwwwn……bruce!….don’t bring me down!
but, though it made complete sense to me, it was not “bruce”. it was “groose”…just an ad-lib by jeff lynne. sigh. “you’re lookin’ good, just like a snake in the grass” – yup. made sense to me.
or what about toto missing the rains down in africa? nope. they are singing, “i bless the rains down in africa!” i have sung about their missing the rain since they released that song the year of my first wedding, now forty years ago.
after i learned this behavior had a name “mondegreen” – this “mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it new meaning. …created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to hear a lyric clearly, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense.” (wikipedia) – i realized that there was some forgiveness in singing all the wrong words.
going back, though, after you come to grips with the real lyrics, tossing aside your memorized gibberish, you kind of have to wonder anew what the song is about.
and then you wonder…suddenly all at once and slowly dawning on you, both…what else didn’t i get?
revved up like a deuce??? a 1932 ford. oh. of course!
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