There's No Bathroom on the Right?

A while back the Question of the Day had to do with mis-heard phrases and song lyrics. My favorite is Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," wherein I -- and a lot of other people apparently -- thought we heard, "don't go out tonight, it's bound to take your life, there's a bathroom on the right," instead of "there's a bad moon on the rise."

Wouldn't you know that someone would come up with a book on that?

Fayme Reinhart first heard her husband utter the woman’s name when they were newlyweds, back in 1982.

“The only girl I ever loved is Donna Wayne/ Looking for a brand-new start,” he sang.

“What did you say? “ she asked.

He repeated the line.

“I can’t believe you said ‘Donna Wayne,’ ” said Ms. Reinhart, 48, of Richland, Pa.

She broke into uproarious laughter and kindly told him: “The lyric is ‘The only girl I’ve ever loved has gone away/ Looking for a brand-new start.’ ”

Then and only then did Tom Reinhart, 54, realize he had been singing “Rhythm of the Rain” wrong all of his life, but even today he jokes with his wife, “I’ll always love Donna!”

“I’ve never let him live it down,” she says.

The aurally challenged not only walk and sing among us, they are us. Cotton swabs and earwax removal systems won’t help. Misheard lyrics afflict us all.

As a 13-year-old at summer camp, Justin Luzar remembers hearing a friend sing “Strong man’s oatmeal” instead of “Stroke me/ Stroke me,” to Billy Squier’s “The Stroke.”

“We all looked at each other like, ‘Did he just say what I think he said?’ and then simultaneously busted out laughing,” says Mr. Luzar, 38, of Scott Township, Pa. “We then mocked him mercilessly for the rest of the summer.”

Poor enunciation, unfamiliar or foreign words, and utter inanity are reasons some song lyrics perplex so many, says Gavin Edwards, a Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor who has compiled four books of misheard lyrics, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy and Other Misheard Lyrics, He’s Got the Whole World in His Pants and More Misheard Lyrics, When a Man Loves a Walnut and Even More Misheard Lyrics, and Deck the Halls With Buddy Holly and Other Misheard Christmas Lyrics.

“I don’t think today’s lyrics are more confusing [than those of previous eras], but I think enunciation has gotten much worse among rock singers, “ he says. “I think many — but not all — rappers have crisper diction, so maybe the trend is heading the other way.”

When two prime-time TV game shows aired this summer, NBC’s The Singing Bee and Fox’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics song lovers could turn their song lyric knowledge into prize money.

“I think it shows that song lyrics are our lingua franca, even when we don’t know what the singer’s saying,” says Edwards, whose most recent book is, Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed.

Sylvia Wright coined the term for misheard lyrics — mondegreens — in a 1954 Atlantic magazine article. As a girl, Ms. Wright thought the lyrics to a folk song were “They had slain the Earl of Moray/ And Lady Mondegreen.” The correct lyrics are “They had slain the Earl of Moray/ And laid him on the green,” Edwards explained in one of his books.

One day as a kid in the early ’70s, Richard Borden found his basketball practice was going to prevent him from hearing the weekly radio music countdown list. So, he asked his mother to listen to the radio and write down the song that reached No. 1 on the singles chart.

When he got home, he found a notepad upon which his mother had written, “Ain’t No Mountain Hyena,” instead of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

“Still makes me smile when I hear that song and sing, ‘Ain’t No Mountain Hyena,’ to it, “ says Mr. Borden, 45, of Cranberry Township, Pa.

In another inaudible tale from the 1970s, Patty Iriana recalled playing a Pictionary-type game on the blackboard in algebra class.

A classmate drew a picture of a ghost talking on a telephone.

“When nobody could guess what the answer might be, and thinking he stumped us, he revealed the answer to be ‘Death I Hear You Calling’ by Kiss,” says Ms. Iriana, 44, of Forest Hills. “We just laughed.”

It’s “Beth I Hear You Calling.”

Like many who crooned to the Young Rascals’ “Groovin’,” Debbie Meyers, 49, of Pittsburgh, thought the lyrics spoke of some fantastical trio in which, “Life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie” instead of the correct “Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly.”
For the record, I still think it's "you and me and Leslie." Hey, it was the '60's.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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