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One thing is clear, in the midst of our county government officials' mind-numbing antics: We need a few laughs -- which we got in spades this week, starting with the 89th edition of the Mountain Gazette, a scrappy bi-monthly published in the central Colorado Rockies.

One piece, titled "Scuse me while I kiss this guy," was a music anthology of sorts, detailing numerous examples of appallingly mangled and misheard song lyrics.

Buzz M., for example, reported a pattern of confusion when it came to the Rolling Stones. "I'll never be your beast of burden," was, to Matt's ears, "Don't never leave your pizza burnin'." The song "Angie" was "I ain't Jed."

Joanie B., from right here in Colorado Springs, admitted her own nearly 30-year-old confusion over the America tune "Horse with No Name." For months after she first heard the song, she thought they were singing, "I've been through the desert on a horse with no legs."

Or how 'bout Terri N., who says she always thought that Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" was actually "You Can Leave Your Head On."

One of the Mountain Gazette's own staffers had long believed that when the Beatles were singing "Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner, but he knew it wouldn't last," they were in fact singing "Jojo was a man who thought he was a woman, but he was another man."

The phenomenon is more common than you think. In fact, it actually has a name: Mondegreen. But more on that in a minute.

An informal query of fellow officemates here at the Independent reveals some interesting thought processes.

For example, Indy art director Kathy Conarro admits to a longtime confusion over the lyrics in Manfred Mann's Earth Band's song "Blinded by the Light." The line "Wrapped up like a deuce, another runner in the night" has always sounded to her like "Flushed out like a douche in the middle of the night."

Indy sales coordinator Olivia Hickerson reports her ex was convinced that the lyrics in the song "Venus," by Bananarama, which go, "I'm your Venus, I'm your fire, your desire" actually were: "Pull out your penis, and your fire, choke me sire" -- which, of course, in addition to being incredibly vulgar, makes absolutely no sense.

Ad director Teri Homick tells a funny story about a barroom argument a few years back over the lyrics in The Charlie Daniel's Band's "Devil Went Down to Georgia." The heated debate was over the line "Chicken in the bread pan pickin' out dough." Homick's pals insisted it was actually "Chicken with a corn-pone, do-say-do." After playing the song about 15 times in a row on the jukebox, they were ejected from the bar.

And Indy publisher John Weiss always wonders why, at ballgames, he stands up, puts hand to his heart and sings along: "Jose, can you see, by the dawn's early light?"

These Mondegreens -- meaning a mishearing of a popular phrase or song lyric -- were so named by the writer Sylvia Wright, who as a child, had heard the Scottish ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray" and believed that one stanza went like this:

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands

Oh where hae you been?

They hae slay the Earl of Murray,

And Lady Mondegreen.

Poor Lady Mondegreen, thought Sylvia Wright. A tragic heroine dying with her liege; how poetic.

Some years later, Wright learned that what they had really done was slay the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green. Wright was, the story goes, so distraught by the sudden disappearance of her heroine that she memorialized her with a neologism.

There's even a Web site, at

www.kissthisguy.com, which details 4,017 bungled lyrics to songs, including "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in which the line "the girl with colitis goes by" stands in for "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes."

Creedence Clearwater Revival's "There's a Bad Moon on the Rise" has been mistaken -- and yes, commonly so -- as "There's a Bathroom on the Right."

One poor sap reported always being confused by the opening line of "America the Beautiful," "Oh beautiful for spacious skies ..." Why on earth, he thought, are we all singing "Oh beautiful for spaceship guys"?

Even hymns aren't safe. In the Christmas classic "Away in a Manger," the part where "The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay" has been, in at least one person's mind, "The little Lord Jesus was eating the hay."

Graze away, readers -- and do forward us your own mangled lyrics for use in future columns. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

That, and recall.

-- degette@csindy.com

  • Cara DeGette on leaving your head on, and other mangled song lyrics

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