Once upon a time, in my first job upon landing in Los Angeles, a co-worker once randomly asked “Do you like the Cult?” “Sure!” I replied, having seen them on the Sonic Temple tour not long before relocating. “My favorite song of theirs is ‘Party Woman’!” he exclaimed. “What?” I was momentarily confused. “What are you talking about? Pretty sure they don’t have a song called ‘Party Woman’.” I said, matter-of-factly. “YEAH THEY DO! (sings) Partaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaay! Smoke she is a’risin’! Partay!” He was dead serious, too. After I regained my composure, I explained the song was actually called “Fire Woman”. I hadn’t thought about that in years until recently, when Seymour Duncan asked readers on Facebook what their favorite misheard lyric was. Suddenly, instant comedy flashback, and a tidal wave of responses. Some of them are at least as, if not even more comical.
Long before anyone with an internet connection could Google a set of song lyrics on a whim, you either waited for the OFFICIAL “song book” (usually piano charts and lyrics), or you guestimated. The problem with guessing, of course, is that unfortunately you have a better chance of being wrong. Probably THE most infamous mishearing of a lyric would have to be Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze.” A timeless rock classic, sure – but what’s that about “‘Scuze me, while I kiss this guy”?
Okay, so apparently it was a running joke he’d say occasionally, but by all accounts (or the biography I read needs to change its title) the actual lyric is “while I kiss the SKY”. Seems legit. But there are so many other hilarious examples of lyrical misinterpretation, from classic rock to metal and beyond. Duncan readers came up with a ton of them – some too racy to reprint here (but no less hilarious), and some I’d never heard! And to be clear, we’re not talking about “mispronounced” examples, like Iron Butterfly’s singer being so hammered in the studio that “In the Garden of Eden” became “Ina Gadda Da Vida” (which I think you’re supposed to sing with a slur if doing an accurate cover, FYI). We’re talking more er..organically-induced “WHAT did they say?” moments.
Another classic example, whether you’re a fan of the original Bruce Springsteen version or the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band cover, is the line in the chorus of “Blinded by the Light.” The two examples offered in the Duncan thread are probably the most popular mishearings “Wrapped up like a douche, another odor in the night” or “another rover in the night”. Let’s not even get into the psychology behind why both mishearings incorporate the word “douche”, okay? (It’s actually “duece”.)
Or what about that timeless Creedence Clearwater Revival Classic “There’s a Bathroom on the Right”? Or their murder mystery song “Who Shot Lorraine?” And while we’re on the subject, who ever had a clue what Elton John was singing about, seriously? One minute it’s “Someone shaved my wife tonight” (uh, “Saved My Life” maybe?) and then “Hold me closer, Tony Daaaaaaaaanza!” (“Tiny Dancer” perhaps?) See what I mean? But one thing the Rolling Stones made sure you can be absolutely certain of – Mick Jagger will NEVER leave anyone’s “Pizza Burnin'”!
Wait, what? OK, easy mistake to make. But who, who could forget Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Pet Shark”? Not a very nice thing to do to your (or anyone else’s) pet shark, Pat. Just saying. And hey, speaking of the Cult in the original example, what’s up with that “The dogs lay at your feet, Edie… We caressed your sheep” bit, anyone? Never mind that, no one could ever, possibly forget the mighty Van Halen’s ode to fine women’s wear – “Padded Bra”? could they? I didn’t think so!
How about the Blue Oyster Cult classic where they urged people “Don’t Fear the Reefer” (so ahead of its time)? Whoever suggested that surely would have loved AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Shop If You Want a Sausage Roll”. Or the classic line in Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song”: “Feelin’ – like a ham and mustard shake.” No wonder a couple of lines later he’s talking about having trouble breathing. Then there’s the Steve Miller classic “Big Ol’ Jed Had A Light On”. The list goes on and on.
What’s YOUR favorite misheard lyric?