"Mondegreens" where the singer really IS singing that

Is it really a mondegreen then? Or do we base the mondegreen on what they intended to sing?

Infamous examples:

Manfred Mann, “Blinded By the Light”-he is supposedly singing “deuce”, but there’s a clear “ch” sound for the c there, so he really is singing “douche”.

Rush, “Subdivisions”-Geddy Lee is allegedly intoning “backs of cars”, but it comes out as “battlecars”.

Nightwish, “Elvenpath”, Tarja Turunen however with her non-English dialect clearly says a “b” sound for the “p” there.

I’ve heard that CCR sometimes really would sing “There’s a Bathroom on the Right” in concert, especially if there really was one there. Apparently people were so used to the mondegreen that it fit right in.

Wouldn’t surprise me if lots of other performers frequently gave in to the mondegreen and actually sang them from time to time in performance.

Somewhat adjacent to that, Don McLean reportedly occasionally sings the lyrics to the Weird Al Yankovic parody of “American Pie” accidentally in concert (“The Saga Begins,” an accounting of the plot of “The Phantom Menace” as told from Obi Wan’s POV, which Yankovic accurately pieced together from the trailers and internet spoilers).

I have heard a live version of Purple Haze where Jimi jokingly sings “Scuse me while I kiss that guy.”

Just before the six minute point of the extended version of Queen’s “One Vision”, Freddie really DOES sing “Gimme fried chicken”.

lol in fact weren’t they eating fried chicken throughout the video its self as a nod to the joke?

Jennifer Hudson does a cover of the Beatles song “Golden Slumbers” on the Sing soundtrack. I’m certain she sings “Smiles awake you when you rise,” rather than “smiles await you when you rise.” Bugs me every time I hear it.

I’ll go to my grave swearing that, on Every Breath You Take, Sting sings:

“I’m a pool hall ace”


“My poor heart aches”

  • The alleged phrase is the wrong number of syllables
  • The word starting with “P” sounds like ‘poo’, not ‘poe’
  • There’s no “T” sound between the last two words


Every song that mentions a place name, played live in that place.


“All the debutantes in Toledo, baby
Couldn’t hold a candle to you”

In Bette Davis Eyes the original version has “make a crow blush”. Kim Carnes sings it as “pro blush”.

FWIW, isn’t the alleged phrase “How my poor heart aches”, which would be the right number of syllables?

But that’s at least one of the normal ways to pronounce “poor,” kind of like “poo” + “r”. I mean listen to the sound sample here,

I personally do tend to say it the same as “pour” but I hear it as “poo”+“r” quite often enough.

I can only kinda sorta get “I’m a pool hall ace” out of that line, but it’s a stretch for me. Especially as the “aches” part hits the “k” sound pretty hard.

Most Americans would say it that way. Like many British singers, Sting usually sings with an American accent.

Clearly whitewashed for radio

Joan Baez’s rendition of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” changed “Stoneman’s cavalry” to “so much cavalry.”

I mentioned this one to my significant other, and she asked me how I knew my version was correct. I’m fairly certain I saw it in the liner notes lyrics back when I had the album on vinyl, but looking it up now, it’s about 50/50 each way on internet lyrics sites. I think “await” has the benefit of making sense, since smiles don’t awake you, but it seems to be a common (if minor) Mondegreen.

Billie Jean. “The ____ is not my son.” I’m not sure what Michael is saying-- at various points in the song it sounds like “chance” or “chase” or “chairs”-- but it’s not “kid”. It’s not. There’s no way.

Huh. I was expecting that you were going to say the lyric isn’t “kid.” I’ve never heard it any other way. Listening to it again, it still sounds like “kid” to me. I’m not getting anything resembling your words. Try as I might, I can’t hear a “ch” at the beinning, nor an “s” at the end. The vowel might be slightly ambiguous, so I could bend my mind to hear “cat” or “ked,” but that’s about it.

You do realize that the Beatles did not write the lyrics to “Golden Slumbers.” They changed just a couple of words from a poem by Thomas Dekker from 1603.

The original poem has “awake.”

Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra famously changing ‘Groos’, a word he claimed he just made up because it fit, to what everybody else heard, “Bruce.” More info in this interview with Rolling Stone

From the cite, the sound “Groos” also sounds like the word for “Greetings” in German. Like Grüß Gott.