Have you ever heard someone sing a song and realized the words they are singing are completely wrong? It’s more common than you think. There’s even a word for it. The act of mishearing or misinterpreting a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning is called a mondegreen.
Let’s take a look at some of the songs with the most misheard song lyrics in Rock ‘N Roll.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
With a slew of both historical and religious references, Queen‘s hit song, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is full of misheard song lyrics. Here are some of its most misquoted lines.
- Misheard Queen Lyrics: Belly rub has a devil for a son, that’s me.
- Original Lyrics: Bealzebub has a devil put aside for me.
- Misheard Queen Lyrics: Saving his life from this warm sausage tea.
- Correct lyric: Spare him his life from this monstrosity.
- Misheard Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics: B**ch is Allah!
- Original Lyrics: Bismillah!
- Misheard Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics: Galileo finger roll–magnifico!
- Original Lyrics: Galileo Figaro–magnifico!
- Misheard Queen Lyrics: Gotta leave it all behind and take a cruise.
- Original Lyrics: Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.
“We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel
One of the most misquoted songs of all time is Billy Joel‘s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. The song was released in 1989 and was inspired by historical events and people of the 20th century.
The fast-paced track uses an array of pop culture and historical news references as its lyrics. The end result is a song with confusing lyrical references that are difficult to memorize. Here are some of the most common misheard Billy Joel lyrics from the song “We Didn’t Start The Fire”:
- Misheard Billy Joel Lyrics: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, British in Romania, Oldness, John Glenn, Mr. Peeps, Alison
- Original Billy Joel Lyrics: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, British Beatlemania, Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
- Misheard Song Lyrics: All to swimmingly, hail all for Kennedy
Chugga-chugga, ‘Psycho’, Belgians in the Congo
- Original Song Lyrics: U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy,
Chubby Checker, ‘Psycho’, Belgians in the Congo
“Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix
- Misquoted Jimi Hendrix Lyrics: Excuse me while I kiss this guy.
- Correct Hendrix Lyrics: Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
“With Or Without You” by U2
The popular U2 song “With or Without You” is about two people with different desires, but ultimately deciding to stay together and try to make it work. U2’s frontman Bono wrote the song for his wife, and we can all relate to the sentiment of loving someone through their struggles and standing by them when times are tough.
“With or Without You” has a common misheard song lyric “I can leave with or without you.” The actual lyric is “I can’t live with or without you”, which is a powerful expression of the song’s central theme: unconditional love.
- Misheard U2 Lyrics: I can leave with or without you.
- Original U2 Lyrics: I can’t live with or without you.
Some other misheard song lyrics from “With Or Without You” are:
- Misheard Lyrics: I can’t win with or without you
- Original Lyrics: I can’t live with or without you
- Misheard Song Lyrics: Slide of hand and twist of fate; On bed of mail she looks my way
- Original Song Lyrics: Sleight of hand and twist of fate; On a bed of nails she makes me wait
“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits
- Misquoted Dire Straits Lyrics: Money for nothin’ and chips for free.
- Correct Dire Straits: Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is one of the most important songs of the 1990s and is still widely misquoted, and for good reason. From the beginning, the lyrics posed a challenge for listeners to decode. The nonsensical nature of the words and Kurt Cobain‘s slurred, guttural singing delivery made transcribing the song nearly impossible. Compounding the difficulty was the absence of any lyrics in the Nevermind album liner notes.
One of the most common mondegreens in the song is to use the word “burrito” in the lyrics instead of “libido”.
- Misheard Nirvana Lyrics: A Milano, Anna’ll bite you, I’m a skater, a burrito. When the light’s out, it’s a stained dress.
- Original Nirvana Lyrics: A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido. With the lights out, it’s less dangerous.
- Misheard Lyrics: Here we are now, in containers.
- Correct Lyrics: Here we are now, entertain us.
- Misheard Lyrics: A burrito, In my Speedo, Yay!
- Original Lyrics: A mosquito, My libido, Yay!
“Living On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi
“Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi is another popular rock song with lots of misquoted song lyrics. While the chorus has the lines, “Oh, half-way there, oh, livin’ on a prayer,” many people misquote the lyric as “Oh, halfway dead, oh, livin’ on a prayer.” The misquote changes the entire meaning of the song and makes it sound much more somber than it actually is.
- Misquoted Living On A Prayer Lyrics: Oh, halfway dead, oh, livin’ on a prayer
- Original Living On A Prayer Lyrics: Oh, half-way there, oh, livin’ on a prayer
Other common misheard song lyrics from “Living On A Prayer” include:
- Misheard Bon Jovi Lyrics: Tommy goes to work on the dots
- Original Bon Jovi Lyrics: Tommy used to work on the docks
- Misheard Lyrics: Tommy’s got a six-string heart
- Original Lyrics: Tommy’s got his six-string in hock
- Misheard Lyrics: It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not.
- Correct Lyrics: It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
The iconic song “Let It Be” by The Beatles is often misquoted in a variety of different ways. The most common misquote is “And she’s now topless” when in reality the lyrics are “And in my hour of darkness”. It is easy to understand why the former misquote is so popular.
- Misquoted Beatles Lyrics: And now topless, she is standing right in front of me
- Original Beatles Lyrics: And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me.
Here’s another popular misquote from “Let It Be”:
- Misquoted Lyrics: For though they may be pardoned
- Original Lyrics: For though they may be parted
“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen
“Born in the USA” is one of Bruce Springsteen‘s most famous songs. But most people mishear multiple lines in the song’s lyrics, including the simple chorus.
- Misheard Bruce Springsteen Lyrics: I had a brother, I called Sean.
- Original Bruce Springsteen Lyrics: I had a brother at Khe Sahn.
- Misheard Lyrics: I’m a long dong daddy in the U.S.A
- Original Lyrics: I’m a long gone daddy in the U.S.A
- Misheard Lyrics: Born down in a dead end town
- Original Lyrics: Born down in a dead man’s town
- Misheard Lyrics: Porn in the USA I watch porn in the USA
- Original Lyrics: Born in the USA I was born in the USA
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles has a very commonly misquoted song lyric. While the actual lyric is “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad,” many people mistakenly quote it as “Hey Jew, don’t be sad.”
- Misheard Lyrics: Hey Jew, don’t be sad.
- Original Lyrics: Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.
This mistake is likely due to the fact that “bad” and “sad” sound similar when said quickly and “Jude” is a very uncommon name. Another possible reason is that the song is about trying to cheer up someone who is feeling down. Regardless, it’s a silly error to make once you know the real lyrics to “Hey Jude”.
“Every Time You Go Away” Paul Young
- Misheard Lyrics: Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.
- Original Lyrics: Every time you go away, take a piece of me with you.
“Message In A Bottle” by The Police
- Misquoted Song Lyrics: A year has passed since I broke my nose.
- Correct Song Lyrics: A year has passed since I wrote my note.
“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John
- Misheard Song Lyrics: Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
- Correct Lyrics: Hold me closer, tiny dancer.
“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
- Misheard Song Lyric: Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight.
- Correct Song Lyric: That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses‘ classic power ballad “Sweet Child O’ Mine” has several popular misheard song lyrics. Some of them are ridiculous.
- Misheard Guns N’ Roses Lyrics: And pray for the thunder and the rain…oh why did you have to die
- Original Guns N’ Roses Lyrics: And pray for the thunder and the rain, to quietly pass me by
- Misheard Sweet Child O’ Mine Lyrics: I’d have to look into those eyes and see your lingerie
- Original Sweet Child O’ Mine Lyrics: I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain
- Misheard Lyrics: Ohhh that’s, sweet cherry pie.
- Original Lyrics: Ohhh, sweet child o’ mine
- Misheard Axl Rose Lyrics: She’s got eyes of the bluest skies and if they’ve got a brain…
- Original Axl Rose Lyrics: She’s got eyes of the bluest skies and if they thought of rain…
The Most Misheard Song Lyrics From Rock ‘N Roll
While it’s normal for lyrics to be misquoted unintentionally, it’s always important to listen carefully. Knowing the correct lyrics to songs can help you to appreciate them in an even deeper way. It can also save you from an embarrassing moment during karaoke night.
How was our list of misheard song lyrics? Did we miss any of your favorite misquoted songs? Please let us know in the comments.