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Joy to the world! The Lord has gum!
December 5, 2005 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Joy to the world! The Lord has gum! "Good King Wences' car backed out / On the feet of heathens..." We've discussed Mondegreens (misheard lyrics), but tis the season for Christmas Mondegreens. Snopes has culled out some great ones, and there's also a book of them, "Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly."
posted by GaelFC (51 comments total)

 
Okay, this made me laugh out loud. Good stuff.
posted by fenriq at 9:51 PM on December 5, 2005


bah hamburg
posted by slogger at 10:09 PM on December 5, 2005


Some of these just seem...made up.
In grade seven we had to learn a weird song about a happy Russian folk musician, for which we collectively and purposely changed the lyrics to something that sounded similar, but was now a song about a guy stepping of his bike and brutally assaulting an already dead body. The teacher didn't notice, because it sounded like the right song and we didn't sing very clear anyway. (It was in Dutch, sorry, so no funny lyrics)

Back to the link. I got confused: In both the real and misheard lyrics of the twelve days of Christmas it said "four calling birds". I'm sure I learned "four collie birds". Did my whole grade three class get it wrong? So I googled it, and apparently I was just taught a really old version of the song. I am not that old that I was taught Olde Englyshe...
posted by easternblot at 10:10 PM on December 5, 2005


I believe practically all "misheard lyrics" are simply constructions.

"There's a bathroom on the right" may in fact be the only legitimate one.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:35 PM on December 5, 2005


Speaking of Christmas Carols..
Mondegreens are avoided with simplicity, a la Pink Stainless Tail. All other carols pale in comparison after hearing that.
Just an excuse to spread the song - each time I hear it now, I hear PST. Good job.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:40 PM on December 5, 2005


Good King Sauerkraut looked out,
On his feets uneven,
While the snoo lay round about,
All kerchoo acheiven.

(What's snew?)
(I don't know, what's snew with you?")
posted by kenko at 10:43 PM on December 5, 2005


Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope cantaloupe, 'lope with you!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly
Gaggin' on the wagon, willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!
posted by trip and a half at 11:16 PM on December 5, 2005


That's not the version of "Deck Us All" with which I'm familiar!
posted by kenko at 11:22 PM on December 5, 2005


From the Christmas Song, posted at Snopes

Everybody knows a turkey, handsome Mr. Soul
Help to make the season bright;


Must have been another Starsky and Hutch Special showing on Christmas Day.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:16 AM on December 6, 2005


Mondegreens are avoided with simplicity

The "Ringle Jock Bell" stanza wasn't really a Mondegreen then? Just him tripping over the complex lyrics?

He should have gone for another take until he got it right.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:37 AM on December 6, 2005


PeterMcDermott,

"Everybody knows a turkey, handsome Mr. Soul" just made me spew a little wine. I find it funny, but I'm not sure why so funny.
posted by wsg at 1:19 AM on December 6, 2005


As sung by "Gladly the cross-eyed bear."
posted by seanyboy at 1:51 AM on December 6, 2005


A lot of these sound like the things that your father would make up just to mess with you.

That said, I'm mildly embarrassed to say that at least three of them are how I thought the song actually went. No, I'm not saying which.
posted by lodurr at 4:16 AM on December 6, 2005


I'm with easternblot and Ynoxas. I think probably 2% of them are 'genuine'. Another portion fits into the "fill in the blanks" category (as a kid, I filled in the line in Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" as "I can't lie/No more all redondness". Even with my imperfect English, I knew perfectly well there was no such thing as 'redondness', but had to sing ~something~ there. "Hour of darkness", as it turns out.) I think all the rest of them, the majority, are puns.

Now, I can enjoy puns if they also contain a meaningful metaphorical or satirical element, or if they have some external justification (such as easternblot's subversive classroom gesture... go Dutch youth!)... but I think everyone knows that puns for puns' sake — i.e., as simple observations of the phonetic similarity between words and phrases — are the "lowest form of humour". Most mondegreens, I believe, are just a cover story for chronic punsters to keep on doing what they do best/worst. Frankly, these things try my patience. (Not trolling, just my curmudgeonly opinion.)

On the other hand, trip and a half's obviously made up nonsense parody of "Deck the Halls" is hilarious. And I've instantly become a lifetime Pink Stainless Tail fan.
posted by guidonDeBascogne at 4:41 AM on December 6, 2005


but I think everyone knows that puns for puns' sake — i.e., as simple observations of the phonetic similarity between words and phrases — are the "lowest form of humour".

What's interesting is that in my experience a good proportion of highly intelligent people seem fond of them.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:02 AM on December 6, 2005


It is not a christmas song, but I remember that my favorite hymm to sing in church was "How Great Thou Fart".
posted by alball at 5:27 AM on December 6, 2005


Although some mondegreens are probably made up, my wife has some doozies that I know are real, because she gets so embarassed when she's singing a song and I stop and ask her "WHAT were you saying there? Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chiefs? Really?"
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:57 AM on December 6, 2005


My brother heard that as "Dirty deeds, done to a chief."
posted by lodurr at 6:08 AM on December 6, 2005


"Thirty Thieves and the Thunder Chief."
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:35 AM on December 6, 2005


We all know it's "Dirty Deeds, Done With Sheep"...
posted by benzo8 at 6:45 AM on December 6, 2005


A friend & I wrote Puff the Magic Water Bong years ago, but I can't find it anymore. :(
posted by jeffburdges at 6:46 AM on December 6, 2005


See Also: Kiss this Guy: the Archive of Misheard Lyrics
posted by blue_beetle at 7:07 AM on December 6, 2005


When I wasn 16, I thought the lyrics to "Barracuda" should have been about a car:
three-eighty-three, super-charged
With a nitrous tank stuck up under the dash
Four on the floor, eight barrel carb
Wide open headers, you won't even see me go past

And if I ever put my foot to the floor
You wouldn't see me around here anymore
I'd be gone through a hole in space and time in my
Barracuda
Yeh, I know the specs don't make sense, I was 16....
posted by lodurr at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2005


"Horsehead-ly devoted to you..." (from Grease)
posted by gubo at 7:17 AM on December 6, 2005


Deck us all with Boston Charlie

I was hoping I'd see that in here.

The "Ringle Jock Bell" stanza wasn't really a Mondegreen then? Just him tripping over the complex lyrics?

He should have gone for another take until he got it right.


Dude, Phil Spector charges by the second. I couldn't afford another take.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:18 AM on December 6, 2005


trip and a half: that's genius -- where'd you get it?

Am I just imagining that I've heard Bugs Bunny singing that? It's definitely his style...
posted by Miko at 7:53 AM on December 6, 2005


We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the alligators knock him down.


Yep. Sounds about right.

Also, PinkStainlessTail, that is so awesome that I have saved it into my iTunes library and intend to share it with everyone I know because, well, they need to hear it. :)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2005


trip and a half: that's genius -- where'd you get it?

Am I just imagining that I've heard Bugs Bunny singing that? It's definitely his style...
posted by Miko at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2005


It's Pogo. People of a certain generation will happily regurgitate it for you at the slightest provocation. Since I doubt there's anyone of that generation on this thread, I'm guessing trip and a half heard it from his/her parental units.
posted by lodurr at 7:59 AM on December 6, 2005


No wonder. I loved Pogo for its wordplay. It's been years since I lived where the newspaper carried it. I grew up reading it in its second-generation incarnation, but it was still pretty great.

Anyway, thanks for posting. It's a treasure.
posted by Miko at 8:06 AM on December 6, 2005


Here's the 'official' version from the Walt Kelly page.
posted by Miko at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2005


Some of these are a stretch but some are comedy gold. And I do know that my dad used to make up verses just for kicks.
posted by fenriq at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2005


Yeah. I think most of them are "made up". But still ...then pretend that he is sparse and brown... cracks me up.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2005


Yes, Walt Kelly. Sorry, I should have attributed it. And yes, I'm a second-generation fan of Pogo and his little swamp buddies -- especially Churchy LaFemme!
posted by trip and a half at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2005


'Scuze me while I kiss this guy" - Hendrix actually sang it that way at least once. It's in one of the live recordings. The artist himself was probably playing along with people who had mis-heard it even in the 60's.

I used to wonder why Sheryl Crow was singing "all I want to do is hurt somebody".
posted by jam_pony at 10:03 AM on December 6, 2005


My second paragraph was unrelated to the first, except as a modegreen `_`
posted by jam_pony at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2005


Arrgh! mondegreen.
posted by jam_pony at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2005


My cousin Steve refused to believe the Bee Gees weren't singing "Bald Headed Woman" until we drove him fifteen miles into town and showed him the record sleeve with "More than a Woman" printed on it. Even then, he may not have been completely convinced.

"Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me..."
posted by FYKshun at 11:02 AM on December 6, 2005


guidonDeBascogne

Puns are not the lowest form of humor; mime is.
posted by X4ster at 11:20 AM on December 6, 2005


Deck the halls with gasoline
Fa la la, etc
Light a match and watch it gleam
Fa la la, etc
Watch the school burn down to ashes
Fa la la, etc
Now aren't you glad you played with matches?

Ah, the innocence of school days.
posted by Eddie Mars at 11:20 AM on December 6, 2005


X4ster

I stand corrected: second lowest form.

And Turtles all the way down:

I've made the same observation, but never confuse intelligence with taste.

It would be Walt Kelly; now there's a man who knew what wordplay was about.
posted by guidonDeBascogne at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2005


As heard when I was 5 - Little River Band "Lonesome Loser"
"Have you heard about the Lollapalooza?
He's a loser but he silky so fry."

The first line made sense to me, as a family member's favorite Carvel treat was the Lollapalooza - vanilla ice cream on a stick covered with coconut.
posted by Iamtherealme at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2005


All you Pogo lovers are lavishing all the attention on trip and a half, even though I made the allusion first.
posted by kenko at 1:10 PM on December 6, 2005


I used to run a website devoted to the collection of Mondegreen (long since defunct), but I guarantee you, Ynoxas, I would get lots and lots of email from people saying "Wait, you mean those aren't the real lyrics!?" And they were serious. So no, I don't think they're all made up. If you've heard the "mondegreen" part first and the song later in life, your brain takes the easiest route to make sense of what you're hearing. "It seems to me you lived your life like a Ken doll in the wind" and "Captain Picard on the New Jersey Turnpike" are two great examples I remember from my old site.
posted by tzikeh at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2005


I think a good portion of mondegreens are pretty genuine. I almost choked on my gum the first time I heard Five for Fighting's "Superman (It's Not Easy to Be Me)" on the radio. All those times they howled "Inside o' me," I was positive it was "In sodomy."

If you like your Christmas lyrics mangled, don't forget P.D.Q. Bach.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2005


Eddie Mars, I always heard it as "Light a match and watch it *clean*". Then again, my gradeschool was a rather grubby place.
posted by notsnot at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2005


A bun is the lowest form of wheat.
posted by Sparx at 3:19 PM on December 6, 2005


Most mondegreens, I believe, are just a cover story for chronic punsters to keep on doing what they do best/worst. Frankly, these things try my patience.

So, you don't find them punny?

In the non-Xmas vein, I recall reading that the notorious perfectionist Stephen Sondheim hated his lyrics for West Side Story. He commented that people must wonder what "Everything's free in America, for a smafee in America" means.

[And yes, he's a perfectionist. When I was a teen, I wrote him a fan letter, and mentioned how I liked one particular song's rhyme. He actually wrote back explaining (perhaps even slightly defensively) how the verse wasn't a true rhyme.
...
My writing lesson from Sondheim.]

When my mind subconciously rewrites lyrics that make more sense (to me), it's almost impossible to change my thinking later. Because as a writer, I've created my own little story, and that's it.

And WRT Xmas lyrics, for some reason, I always want to sing:
In the meadow we can build a snowman;
And pretend that he is Farmer Brown.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:44 PM on December 6, 2005


- My carol offering: "Dig the holes with trowels, by golly"
- An honest-to-God example (mine): Patsy Cline's "I Phone For Pizzas"
- my favorite mondegreen (perhaps apocryphal): Whitney Houston's "Shaving Off My Muff For You"
posted by rob511 at 5:23 PM on December 6, 2005


I got two:

Good King Wencelas' ass was shot
By a guy named Ste-ven

And (to the verse of First Noel)

We looked Ed up
and got in the car
and drove to his house
it wasn't too far

Well, we laughed when we were kids.

There was also:

Riding my train
Out of Spokane

But that's a different holiday.
posted by judlew at 9:40 PM on December 6, 2005


Queerty has received shocking holiday testimony from the Little Drummer Boy about abuse he suffered at the hands of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the so-called Three Kings From The East. “Queens would be more like it,” said LDB. “You can’t believe how sick some people are. They sang the first line of my song, ‘Cum they told me,’ with a sexual emphasis that made me gag. Then they forced me to perform the whole song, changing the most famous line to ‘Me and my bum.’” ...
posted by amberglow at 4:36 PM on December 7, 2005


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