How Misheard Lyrics Reveal Something About How We Think

We’ve all misheard lyrics.  Instead of “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” in Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” we thought we heard “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”  And why is Manfred Mann singing about “douches” in “Blinded By the Light?”

When I was playing in a band years ago, the bass player was in charge of transcribing lyrics to the covers we’d play.  One day I was looking through his notebook and found what he had written for the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.”

Girl, you really got me nowYou got me so I don’t know what I’m doin’

Girl, you really got me now

You got me so I don’t know what you weigh


Misheard lyrics are officially known as mondegreens. And while most people tend to just laugh them off, they can be used to study us both on a psychological and neurological level.  What we think we hear in a song lyric tells us something about how we think.  Take a read of this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38536 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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