This morning when doing the New York Times crossword puzzle I came across a new word. As a 72 year old retired English professor, I rarely encounter a word I haven’t seen before. So I was jubilant. (Yes. During this lockdown it isn’t taking much to make me happy.) The word is “mondegreen,” apparently coined in 1954 and defined as misinterpreting a word or phrase, especially from a song lyric.
Finally. A chance to share one of my favorite “aha” moments from my marriage. My husband and I were at a concert of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon playing together. (Well not together as it turns out. They were taking turns. Sort of.) Anyway Dylan began singing “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.” I had never seen the title of this song, only heard it played. My husband turned excitedly to me saying “this is the only song that is about Mobile.” He was raised in Mobile, Alabama, so this made an impression on him. To my chagrin, I realized that for forty years I had been singing “I’m stuck inside a mobile with the Memphis blues again.” Sounded quite believable given Dylan’s frequently psychedelic verses.
My other mondegreen comes from a song I can’t recall. All I know is that I constantly sing “you’re my corn dog in the night.” I have to assume that the lyric is something quite different. At least I hope it is.
What lyrics have you been mishearing for years? Of course if no one has corrected you this question will make no sense!