Secret Asian Man -- and other misunderstood lyrics

As I kid, I heard the song before seeing the TV program, and I heard “Secret ASIAN Man”. I thought to myself, “Well how big a secret can it be? And why is it a secret?”

Secret Asian Man
Secret Asian Man
They’ve given you a number
And taken 'way your name

I was a pretty sophisticated kid (I thought), and thought this was something the Communist Chinese did.

It was, of course, Johny Rivers singing Secret AGENT Man (FYI for you young kids who’ve never heard the song and who’s very existemce remind me of how old I am).

Any similar stories?

A misunderstood lyric is known as a mondegreen, I think. My personal favorite is from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds:

“The girl with colitis goes by…”

Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love:”

“Keep a coolie baby, keep a coolie baby…”

I guess he could help with housework when he gets older.

Hie thee to (Warning: Popups within).

I used to think that ‘Twist and Shout’ had a line that went ‘shakin’ a baby’ rather than ‘shake it up baby’.

“And so we watched, elated, as the mirror told it’s tale”
Perceived as a line in Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale for years.

Until this very night, I thought in “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard, the line was …

“Do you take sugar?
Want love for sure!”

Apparently it’s:

“Do you take sugar?
One lump or two?”

Who knew?


As a matter of fact, Rush Limbaugh played this tune using those twisted lyrics whenever he used to discuss the illegal Clinton campaign contributions from the Chinese scandal.

“Big Ol’ Jed and Lina,” instead of “Big ol’ jet airliner,” by the Steve Miller Band. I figured Jed and Lina were some obese couple who couldn’t carry each other very far (next line being, “Don’t carry me too far away”).

Why is Bono singing about an Electric Toaster in that new U2 song?

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

Even though I know the real lyrics, I still hear Johnny Rivers singing “secret asian man.” Every time. It’s amazing how much he slurs those syllables.

Also, in “Jokerman,” by Bob Dylan, I always heard a great, wonderfully descriptive, line about “a small dark look on his face.” I was stunned to find out the real lyrics were, “A small dog licking his face.” What was he thinking?

In the CCR song “Bad Moon Rising,” my friend thought John Fogarty said “There’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” And in Steve Miller Band’s “Jet Air Liner,” he thought it was “Bingo Jeb had a light on.”

I suspect he was being deliberately obtuse.

“'scuse me, while I kiss this guy

That’s one of the most classic misinterperetations in a song.

Which is why the link I provided earlier in this thread is to a website called

Ack! Mine’s about U2 and a toaster too! I wonder if it’s more common than I think…

For years, when I heard U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” (one of my favorite U2 songs), I heard this line…

Imagine my dismay when a friend of mine pointed out the real meaning, which seemed so obvious I can’t believe I never heard it before:

Yeah, :smack: pretty much sums up my reaction.

One of my favorite “bumpers” (Short promos that a radio station plays about itself) from WLUP Chicago went

Playing the songs you know

<cut to a voice of an apparent caller to the station requesting a song>

Can’t talky talk love!

<Back to the announcer>

Or at least you think you do

The correct line, from a Van Halen song is “Can’t Talk About Love”

Blah… The wrong caller is affecting me… I mean “Ain’t Talkin Bout Love” of course

One of the SD books, the blue one, I think, has a discussion of this in it lifted from (I beleive) the old AOL boards. Wouldn’t be surprised if the old-school Dopers were in that one.

Tom Petty “Don’t wanna limp like a referee.”

“…and the piano, it sounds like a carnivore…”

Funny thing about “Secret Agent Man”: I play on an intramural hockey team, and last year one of the players was Asian. SOmetimes, a couple of the fans that came to our games got drunk, and whenver that guy did something good in the game, they would actually sing “Secret ASIAN Man,” yelling the Asian part as load as they could. Needles to say, they got in trouble a few times when other people of Asina decent just happen to be at the hockey game (and when I say a few, I mean a lot, since we got to a school with a very high percentage of international students)