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

Wait–what?

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 30+ 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.