What I Really Meant to Say

When we rely on our ears, sometimes the meanings aren’t clear…

You’ve heard of mondegreens, right? So named by writer Sylvia Wright, they are what happens when we hear something completely different in a song lyric.

Possibly the most famous ones are “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” which was really “while I kiss the sky” (Jimmi Hendrix, Purple Haze) and “There’s a bathroom on the right” for “bad moon on the rise” (Credence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising).

But my favorite is fairly unique (or so I think). Mom was a child in the 50s and 60s and had an older sister, my aunt, who liked to listen to the girl groups and Doo Wop of the day. From her sister’s room came the sound of the Moonstone’s “The Book of Love”

Now that iconic part? Oh I Wonder Who-o-o-o, Who wrote the book of love? Well, my mother, bless her heart, heard “Who milked the moo cow now.”

This, of course, has been the source of many a giggle in our family because, of course, all children play the game of let’s laugh at Mom (or Dad) from time to time. One particular instance happened at work when I was programming our new phone system (we work together) at her desk (because she has the Master Phone–sounds like some trippy Dr Who character). She was actually singing a different song (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”–probably because I’d said “shoot” to the phone or something, there’s no telling, really), absolutely slaughtering the chorus (I’ve actually blocked it the murder was so bad) when I corrected her (it’s a gift, folks, honest). She thought it was terribly funny and, of course, brought up “moo cow now” and that was it. We were in absolute hysterics by the time the next person walked through the door.

Luckily it was a coworker. It probably says something about our office that Mom and I laughing so hard we’re in tears is not a shocking sight.

Any mondegreens in your family’s song closet?

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