What you think you heard them sing
May 20, 2015 by norman lebrecht
Tim Page has started a compulsive thread on his Facebook page, calling in song lines that you totally misheard.
Tim heard, ‘You’re like a maggot. I’m like a piece of meat.’ The real lyric is ‘You’re like a magnet. I’m like a piece of steel….’ (Not sure which is preferable.)
I well remember a pop refrain that ran, ‘And I did what I did for Maria.’ My teenaged self and several friends thought the singer was describing an anterior sexual activity.
It appears there is a technical name for these things: a Mondegreen.
It is drawn from a Scottish ballad:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen (recte: And laid him on the green).
So how about the opera and concert lines that we constantly mishear, or hear misquoted?
When I am laid in her.
Come for tea, my people.
Send us your favourites. Here’s an Orfful one to get you started.
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