Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Musical Mondegreens

Last week's post about misheard/misinterpreted names generated some amused responses. Later that day a friend posted on Facebook about the fact that lockdown has given her the space to rewatch lots of her favourite musicals. ["My granny likes Rogers and Frankenstein" as the schoolboy said] I realised that lots of people enjoy musicals - precovid, some people made an event of it - dressing up as nuns, or donning suspenders to spend an evening singing along with Maria and the Sound of Music, or The Rocky Horror Show etc.

I have never participated in such an evening - but I do enjoy joining in with songs from the musicals when they come on the radio. Trouble is, we have a weakness for tweaking [no, not twerking] For instance, in My Fair Lady when Jeremy Brett* * * sings about being"several storeys high" the family chorus "nearly five feet high" 

In Show Boat, Ava Gardner declares that "fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly" but I prefer "sharks gotta swim and bats gotta fly" - it seems to reflect the way she has resigned herself to the inevitable 

And if in South Pacific, Mitzi Gaynor thinks the sky is canary yellow and she is incurably green, then I definitely feel she deserves to be described as a Cockeyed Octopus

But my favourite tweak of all is the love song from Kismet with Vic Damone
Take my hand, I'm a strange looking parasite...

***this is before JB became Sherlock Holmes. I am also amused by the conversation at the beginning "Would you like to come in Sir? They're having dinner but you can wait in the hall" and he replies "No thank you, I want to drink in the street where she lives" now that could be interpreted in two very different ways! 

Do you have any favourite musical tweaks in your family? 


  1. I'm quite sure I do but can't think of them right now. The kids at school, particularly in choir laugh at me because I always middle lyrics when trying to juggle conducting and accompanying them on the piano- I give a logical rendition of the words, but definitely not what's written! Trying to do and think of too many things simultaneously!

  2. People used to write into Terry Wogan's radio programme with new phrases for many records in the 80's - can't remember any off the top of my head but when I hear them on the radio I remember

  3. Oh, my father's version of At the Cross:
    "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light and the wheels on my buggy rolled away. It was there by chance that I tore my Sunday pants and now I have to wear them every day!"
    I've always had to keep my eyes on the hymnal when singing that song!
    You might be interested to know I'm 5'1"!
    Your blog is a delight!


  4. Thanks Barbara Anne - I love your dad's alternative hymn words. I'm glad you enjoy the blog

  5. Years ago when "North To Alaska" was popular, I was in Italy and some other young people liked it and wanted to figure out one line. For the life of me I had no idea. It sounded like "from Russia's zone" but that made no sense. It was only when I started living in Canada that I heard about the Gold Rush and the line became "the rush is on"!

  6. Your version of the songs are too funny! :D

  7. Love me some twisted lyrics. Don Henleys Boys of summer has a nice line that in our house is always 'I can see your bra strap shining in the sun' rather than 'brown skin'. As for genuinely funny lyrics you can't beat The Divine Comedy. With lines such as 'it's hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country' ( pardon my language).

    1. DC do have great lyrics, and as someone who used National Express coaches a lot in the past, I too have a fondness for that song! Neil Hannon did a totally unexpected but particularly fine recording (IMHO) of "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" by the way. Have you come across it?

  8. I always thought the song was about Youth In Asia....Cheers


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