It's likely everyone has listened to a song they liked and misheard the lyrics. That's not unusual. 

However, have you ever thought your misheard lyrics were better or more interesting than those of the actual song? That replacing the actual lyric with your version might make it more thought provoking or meaningful? 

I'll give you a couple of examples for myself, one obscure, one famous:

There was a band from Boston called Human Sexual Response from the 80s. They had a song called Marone Offering that I really liked, but I never had a lyric sheet. The song starts out mid tempo, then changes to a much more uptempo beat about ⅔ of the way. During that uptempo portion, there's a lyric they repeat over and over. Before the advent of the internet, I thought that lyric was:

"It's justified when you walk away"

Which I personally thought was really interesting. Of course, years later and I find out it was:

"It's just a five minute walk away" 

Kind of a letdown in my opinion. 

Another instance was the very well known Don't Fear the Reaper. For years, I'd thought the third verse began:

"Love of two is one

Please put down that gun" 

Obviously a somewhat more sinister implication. 

Of course, the actual lyric is:

"Love of two is one

Here but now they're gone" 

Nothing wrong with it, but part of me prefers my version. 

Now, it's highly likely I think about song lyrics more than most people, but I'm curious, and I wonder if anyone else has misheard lyrics they prefer to the actual ones. 

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Apophenia is the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things.

Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli.

Although O Fortuna is written in Latin (i.e., not random per se), the video JD posted (which is hilarious, BTW) is an example of pareidolia (unless you speak Latin). 

In my travels, I have acquired four compilations of so-called "mondegreens," all from Gavin Edwards:

They make for amusing reading, but I can't say I have any "favorites."

Speaking of Christmas music, I suppose "Olive, the other reindeer" is an enduring mondegreen that is so pervasive it inspired a children's book and an animated TV special.

I recall mishearing a line in Creedence Clearwater Revival's Who'll Stop The Rain. I thought "good men through the ages" was "goodness truly ancient." Must have first heard the song on a cheap portable radio I had.

I recall, as a very young kid, The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. The theme is here:

I was baffled by what I misheard as "Aquaman, the Golden Dairy, King of the Seven Seas!" ("bold and daring")

and less-so by

"Rocket from another planet." ("Hawkman, from another planet...")

I suspect I had half of the lyrics wrong, but I specifically recall those two.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli.

I don't know if this counts, but I do this deliberately. At night, when I'm having trouble sleeping (which is pretty much always), I let the random sounds of the house coalesce in my brain into a tune. There are a lot of random sounds: the AC/heating system, the refrigerator, a wine cooler, a spare freezer, and so forth. Plus really random creaks and groans from the house settling and the occasional roof-bump by a nocturnal animal.

I don't force it, instead I just let my subconscious do its thing. Sometimes my brain suggests something that sounds very 1920s, or a rock beat from the '60s, or some other genre or period. It's never an existing song, just whatever song the house is singing that night. Helps me drift off.

Speaking of Christmas music, this isn't exactly an example of misheard lyrics, but it's too good not to introduce to the discussion: "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie" from the ever-wonderful comic strip Pogo. So good that trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross set it to music:


(According to Walt Kelly’s posthumous chroniclers there are six verses to the song)

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 Pensacoola 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!

The ultimate mondegreen Rorschach Test is, of course, the Kingsmen's cover of "Louie, Louie." I think my version goes something like this:


Ha-looweeloowhy öno!

Sayday we gungow.

Sayday halooweeloowȝy oh baybé

Sayday we gunow.


Me fie Lee Curl; she wafer me.
A Kafka sheep! Acrostic tea!
Ale wine, sheet wine—alla
M’ne’er De
higa mæy gehwone.




Þe nigh,  Andayo-- I fail to see.

M’theesa guerillo contasy!

On my bed I lee she there.

M’cellar José minerraer!






M’See…. Oops.


M’See j’αmingamymαoйwabόw!

They Mopee-o þee streaminäuȝ!
They pay in Hár m’aяrtegen





Background mutter, possibly in Klingon, something like, "Aithis1a한nuhrwerJKEQUicKRh"



Don't know if it is true or urban legend - supposedly the Kingsmen lead singer had just been fitted with a new set of braces which caused his less than articulate rendition of the song.

That O Fortuna video is fantastic!

Regarding pareidolia, I've got a story for you...

When I was in college, an evangelical mister came to campus to deliver a speech on "back-masking" and subliminal messages in popular songs. Under any other circumstances I would have ignored him, but he was quoted in the college newspaper as saying something to the effect of, "Why don't they come after the homos or the [some other slur I honestly don't remember]?" That got my dander up. He played the usual "backwards messages" one might expect, including  [allegedly] "smoke pot, smoke pot, everybody smoke pot" from the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." But by that time I had already read John Lennon's Playboy interview and I knew what he was really saying. when it came to the question and answer section, I suggested that the audience heard "smoke pot, smoke pot, everybody smoke pot" because that was what he had put in their head. I asked if he could replay that tape and he agreed. I told the audience what John Lennon was really saying was "got one, got one, everybody's got one" (a penis, a vagina, whatever). As he replayed it, a smattering of applause eventually spread across the whole auditorium. True story.

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