They hae slain the Earl of Murray,In fact, after slaying the poor Earl, they "laid him on the green." And a wonderful term was born. A terrific site dealing with mondegreens is this one, with links to others. I find by going through some of these links that I have been guilty of at least one more mondegreen. Tell the truth: did you know the correct lyrics to "Brass in Pocket"?
And Lady Mondegreen.
Wrong lyric: Gonna use my sausage
Right lyric: Gonna use my sidestep
Actually, all this time I thought she was saying "gonna use my sassy." It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but it sounded cool.
Here's another. Last year there was some song by Jimmy Eat World constantly on the radio; I don't even remember the name of it. During part of the chorus the singer says:
Right lyric: everything, everythingMy kids filled me in; nice little Rorschach test. In fact, I have another mondegreen that I still don't know the correct lyrics to. Please write and tell me. It's a classic rock number by ELO (title forgotten), and this is how I hear it:
Lyric as heard by me: Elvis is everything
Wrong: It's a lemon drink / what a terrible thing to do.One last mondegreen, and not mine. Back in 1970, Jimi Hendrix had a big hit with Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," which contains the line:
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.Poor Jimi committed a mondegreen when he sang
None of them along the line nobody of it is worthWhich makes no sense at all. Good thing he could play guitar. (Don't believe me? Go listen to it right now. I'll wait..... See?)
UPDATE: Thanks to Stephen Goranson (via e-mail) and Jim Davila (in his comment below) for establishing the correct text of ELO's "Livin' Thing." If I had only known the title, the world would have had one fewer mondegreen.
For Hebraists: Fred Bush of Fuller used to tell this story on himself. When first visiting in Israel, he listened to the radio to try to improve his Modern Hebrew. One word continually stumped him: tabrit. Finally he asked someone what it meant, and was told there was no such word. "But it's on the radio all the time!" he said. "It's in the phrase artzo tabrit!" And that's how he learned that the name of the United States in Modern Hebrew is artzot ha-berit.
UPDATE (1/26): And the mondegreens keep coming in....
Doug Ward of Miami U. asks what the correct line is in "Riders on the Storm": is it "an actor out on loan" or "an actor out alone"? He has seen it both ways.
Danny Frese mentions the case of a friend who wondered what mastomeret in Modern Hebrew meant — ironic, since the misheard phrase was mah zot omeret, "what does it mean"?
Bill Arnold's wife, when a little girl, used to hear the hymn "Lead on, O king eternal," as "Lead on, o kinky turtle."
My wife, along with thousands of others, heard Manfred Mann singing "wrapped up like a douche" in the song "Blinded by the Light" by Bruce Springsteen. This particular line probably has more mondegreens than any other in history, to judge by this site. Probably Manfred was actually singing "revved up like a deuce," itself a mondegreen for the canonical "cut loose like a deuce." None of them make any obvious sense.