The word mondegreen is defined as a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is, in fact, incorrect. The term was coined in a November 1954 Harper’s Bazaar piece, where the author, Sylvia Wright, recalled a childhood mishearing. According to the author, when she was young her mother would read to her from a book called “Reliques of Ancient Verse.” Her favorite poem from the 1765 book went like this: “Ye Highland and Ye Lowlands / Oh where have you been? / They have slain the Earl o’Moray / And laid him on the green.” Wright, however, heard the last line as “And Lady Mondegreen.” A mondegreen actually takes place between auditory perception (the physical act of hearing) and meaning-making (when our brains imbibe the noises with significance).
This is essentially what happens in the childhood game of telephone. As one friend whispers a word or phrase into another’s ear, it can become wildly distorted, and a totally different word or phrase can come out the other side. The acoustic information that’s received and the interpretation a brain comes up with simply don’t match up. It’s not exactly entirely clear why this happens, we just know that it does. One instance we see this happen a lot is in song lyrics. You can blame it on the overwhelming amount of auditory signals, like instruments and background singers, or the fact that some words and phrases just sound remarkably like others, but chances are you’ve had at least one instance in your life where you’ve misheard what the singer is saying. Today, we’re here to help you out. Stacker has rounded up 50 famously misheard songs, explaining what’s actually being said. From “hold me closer Tony Danza” to “there’s a wino down the road,” read on for lyrics to 50 famously misunderstood songs. You may also like: Movie trivia for the top 100 films of all time
‘Tiny Dancer’ by Elton John
– Misheard: “Hold me closer Tony Danza” – Correct: “Hold me closer tiny dancer” One of the most frequently misheard lyrics, this Elton John blooper has spawned a life of its own. For example, the single, which went three-times platinum in April 2018, spawned a joke on an episode of “Friends.” When discussing the most romantic songs of all time, Phoebe says that, in her opinion, it’s “the one that Elton John wrote for that guy on ‘Who’s the Boss’.”