• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

In praise of - Mondegreens.

WE'VE all done it.

Spent years singing along to a favourite song with a nagging suspicion there is something not right about the lyrics, only to discover one day Oasis had not in fact penned an ode to Sainsbury's and Queen's "poor boy" was not dancing the banned tango.

The everyday phenomenon of misheard lyrics – so-called mondegreens – has even inspired the title of Scots crime writer Ian Rankin's new Rebus novel, Standing in Another Man's Grave. The author recently admitted it came about after he misheard the title of late singer-songwriter Jack Leven's song, Standing in Another Man's Rain.

The term originates from a 17th-century Scots ballad, The Bonny Earl O'Moray, in which the last line: "And laid him on the green" was commonly misheard as: "And Lady Mondegreen".

Rankin's not alone. A poll of the most common mondegreens in popular music found hundreds of examples, including Beatles hit Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, which had listeners baffled about "the girl with colitis going by". That'll be "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes".

Meanwhile, one of the most irritating songs of the 1990s was also one of the most misheard. Italian Europop act Eiffel 65's 1999 UK No 1, Blue (Da Ba Dee) – a crushingly annoying dance track about a boy living in a blue world with his blue house, car, girlfriend and thoughts which was said to be about depression (and may have pushed hundreds of listeners to the brink of it) – left Scots clubbers stumped as the inanely repeated line "I'm blue da ba dee da ba die ..." seemed to morph into "I will die in Aberdeen".

Ironically, its original songwriter went on to take his own life – though there's no suggestion it involved a trip to the Granite City.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

125586