karaokegal (karaokegal) wrote,
karaokegal
karaokegal

When a Mondegreen changes the meaning (and the feeling.)

For those of you who don't know, a Mondegreen is a mishearing, usually applied to song lyrics, although it can have to do with spoken dialogue and phrases as well. The classic example is thinking that Jimi Hendrix sang "Scuse me, while I kiss this guy."



My favorite example from my own life, is that FOR YEARS, I thought Bruce Springsteen was asking Wendy to "strap your hands cross my inches." (There was an image, let me tell you.)

I think with the internet, there's probably somewhat less of this as there are lyric sites and places to find transcripts of dialogue. Of course those are still done by fallible humans and there's plenty of misinformation out there.

Anyway, I happen to absolutely adore the Elvis Costello song, (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea. My husband used to play it for me on his guitar when we were first going out. This means I've been listening to this song for over 20 years and I ALWAYS thought there was a line that went, "Everybody's got new orders. Be a nice girl and kiss the waters." OK, I didn't know why one would kiss the waters, but thought it might be a religious allusion or just Elvis throwing out some line to rhyme with "orders."

I've always wanted to sing this song at Karaoke and I finally found a version from a website that kindly offers samples so you can hear and see what the CDG will look and sound like. Awesome. Only the snippet I saw showed that the lyric is actually, "Be a nice girl and kiss the warders."

OH! I get it. A warder, being a guard on a ward. Like a Yeoman Warder at the Tower. Hello! DUH. I'm an idiot. Warder actually makes sense and, you know RHYMES with Orders.

Unfortunately, now I have a much better idea of what Elvis was getting at and I kind of wish I didn't. Along with the line, "Men come screaming dressed in white coats, take you very gently by the throat." I have to assume that the "girl" is in a mental institution of some kind and being sexually abused. YUCK!

On the other hand, it's still a great riff, (and would make a great mash-up with All Along The Watchtower), so I'm still probably going to get the Karaoke disc and sing the song. However, it'll also be an angrier, darker rendition.
Tags: blog, elvis costello, journal
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