Near-Mondegreens: Songs you misunderstood even though you heard the lyrics clearly

Did you ever see a lassie
A lassie, a lassie
Did you ever see a lassie
Go this way and that?

When I was little, this song gave me a mental image of a dancing border collie.

I also thought of St. Mary as really fat, because, you know, “Round yon virgin.”

She’s round because she’s pregnant. And she’s not yon, she’s young.

Nope. Yon, according to the 1859 translation. And the translator’s last name was Young, so you can guess that if he meant young, he would have said young.

In my mind, the next line was always “holy imbecile, tender and mild.” I know that’s wrong, and yet I always hear that.

Obligatory link:

“For a while, it’s confusing…” – Doobie Bros., “Listen to the Music”

Nope. Young, according to an ex. This was her own personal mondegreen. It was pretty amusing to straighten her out.

Another ex felt really bad for a bear by the name of Gladly, because of his failing vision. She hear about him in a hymnal. Maybe you know the song? Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea…

When I was little, I would picture someone literally lying over (i.e. above) the ocean. Like maybe in a sling suspended from a helicopter.

I thought Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” was about going to the gym and working out, like in the video.

That reminds me of the day my oldest came home from kindergarten and told me all about his day. “We learned to sing Silent Night, and the teacher told us what ‘round yon virgin’ means.”

I put on my calm understanding mother smile and asked what she had said. I relaxed when he said, “She said it means ‘over there by that young woman’.”

So I could say, “That’s exactly right,” and nod appreciatively. And he was pleased that he knew things now.

I don’t want to hear what you thought about “Come on Eileen”.

/obvious joke

A friend of mine told me that when she was a kid she thought Rhythm was the name of a demon or something because according to Gloria Stefan, Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya.

I thought that’s what it was about. I was shocked when I heard it wasn’t about sex.

I believe it really is “'Round yon virgin” meaning around that virgin over there. Look at the lyrics:

“All is calm, all is bright (a)round yon virgin mother and child; holy infant so tender and mild.”

A women who has already given birth is not (very) round anymore, is she?

ETA: I guess if someone looked at the orginal lyrics (German?) it would answer that question.

The Frank Sinatra song Strangers in the Night confused me, because the number of people involved seemed to keep changing:

Still stuck on Silent Night… I tracked down the original German lyrics and ran it through Google’s translator to get:

Silent night, holy night,
All asleep,
Only the faithful and holy pair.
Holy infant so tender and mild,

So that’s no help.

In the rap portion of Groove is in the Heart, I knew that Q-Tip was singing “Baby you’ll see the funk inside of me”, or maybe “Baby you’ll see the funky side of me,” but I always pretended he was saying “Baby you’ll see the fuckin’ sodomy”.

Muddy Waters: “I got my brand on you” sounds like he’s saying “I got my brains on you”
Howlin’ Wolf: “Evil… going on wrong” – the only thing worse than evil is when it goes on wrong.

I’m by the Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl because of the line “You’re the easter bunny when you smile!” Wait, are you saying the girl has buck teeth? Yeah, can’t unhear it now, can you?

Good point!

I have no doubt that your interpretation is the correct one. (A)round yon(der) virgin. But up until now I thought it was me (the listener) who was around her. I never though that what was around her was the calm and the bright. (Or the All.)

I always thought it was ‘my body lies over the ocean’ when I was young - the lament of a ghostly sailor. And apparently there is more than one of us because I told my boyfriend this story and his response was basically, that’s not the actual lyrics?


Never even considered that interpretation… :o

For me, it’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight. The chorus goes like this…

EJ: Someone saved my life tonight, sugar bear
Background: Sugar bear, sugar bear
EJ: You almost had your hooks in me, didn’t you dear?

I heard “Sugar bear”, but I couldn’t process it and convinced myself that I’m just hearing the friggin’ thing wrong… so I mentally inputted “Should’ve they”, which I thought made a lot more sense, went with the meter, and fit in perfectly with the question in the second line “… didn’t you dear?”

But, no… it’s “Sugar bear”.

Whatever. I did this for 30 years, before being corrected on this board.

I still think that “Sugar bear” is so monumentally stupid that the lyric is better off with “Should’ve they”.