What's your Favorite Mondegreen?
(Then scroll down for a 99 cent Christmas in July sale)
I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books lately and it drives me a little bat nuts when I hear a mispronounced word. (Note to narrator of my current listen: The word ‘chassis’ is pronounced CHASS-see and not CHASS-sis, and the term is duded up not dudded up.) I have a tendency to yell at my tablet. I also have a tendency to yell at music I’m listening to when the singer mumbles and I can’t quite figure the words. “Enunciate and spit it out, you dolt.” That’s when my brain, of its own accord, reaches for a mondegreen.
What’s that, you say? You all know them and may even have a favorite. A mondegreen is an error resulting from a listener mishearing something in a song, poem, or phrase. Since the listener can’t determine the correct words, the brain substitutes something else that sorta makes sense, but leads to a lot of head scratching.
The word mondegreen first appeared in 1954 in an article in Harper’s Magazine. It was invented by American author and editor Sylvia Wright. As a child, she heard the Scottish ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Moray: It had the line, “They have slain the Earl O’Moray and Lady Mondegreen.” It always made her feel sad and puzzled since Lady Mondegreen was never mentioned again. Who was this mysterious woman? The earl’s lover? An innocent bystander? Why was she murdered? It wasn’t until years later when, as an adult, she saw the poem in print and discovered to her surprise the line was actually, “They have slain the Earl O’Moray and laid him on the green.” Ms. Wright coined the term mondegreen and stated they were often better than the original. I tend to agree.
The first mondegreen many children hear is probably from the Pledge of Allegiance as generations have pondered the vow to Richard Stands. The mondegreens I recall fondly are generally associated with music. One of my favorites is Killing Me Softly With his Song, sung by Roberta Flack. She obviously dug the guy in the song, but I never could figure out why since he kept “strumming her face with his fingers.” How annoying to have someone constantly poking you in the eye. I’d have smacked him. Oh, he’s “strumming her pain”, you say. Well, that makes a bit more sense. I probably wouldn’t have hit him for that.
One song that drove me nuts for years was I’d Really Love to See you Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley where the young man, desperate for a date, is whining that “He’s not talking about the linen.” What linen? Did he leave a mess in her bathroom? Steal her good sheets? That would certainly have put him on my ex-boyfriend list. Maybe if he bought her a set of nice percales or Egyptian cotton towels, she’d let him back in…oh, he’s not talking about the linen, but “moving in.” Okay, I can see that, but frankly, the linen has a more interesting backstory.
What is it with Elton John? He speaks like a regular Brit, but when he opens his mouth to sing, all this weird stuff falls out. His Rocket Man has the neighbors up in arms because he’s “burning up the trees off every lawn.” The HOA will hear about this. No wait, he’s actually, “burning out his fuse up here alone.” Then there’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Even if you hear the right words, they don’t make sense. “There’s a dark cloud inside of the house.” (“The dogs of society howl.”) “You can’t land me in the henhouse.” (“You can’t plant me in the penthouse.”) I guess he needs to go there because of the dark clouds in the house, but I wonder if the chickens will ever accept him as an equal. Finally, he just gives up and goes back to Howard and Al in the woods. That’s nice. His two best friends have missed him, until you realize it’s actually “back to the howling owl in the woods.” Okay, but, frankly, I think the owl is of the same mind as the chickens and couldn’t care less. He should look up Howard and Al and join them at the pub for a pint. He’d feel better after a nice chat.
Do you have a favorite mondegreen? Or are the ants your friends, blowing in the wind. (“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”)
Christmas in July Sale
|Amazon Buy Link|
The Naughty List is on Sale for 99 Cents until July 31. Free on Kindle Unlimited.
This isn’t a typical yuletide tale.
Murder, mystical artifacts, an invisible demon with anger management issues, and an overbearing cupid—not what Rosalie Thatcher wished for on her Christmas list
The holidays had always been a magical time for Rosalie, but not this year. Her new manager at Penrose’s Department Store is determined to make this season the most profitable in the store’s history, even if it sucks the life out of every employee. Introducing arbitrary rules and stealing the affections of the cute temp Santa were bad enough, but forcing Rosalie into the stupid elf hat was the worst. The worst, that is, until she meets a real E.L.F. (Elemental Life Form) named David and gets lassoed into a desperate hunt for the stolen Naughty and Nice List. Now all Rosalie and David must do is dodge a murderous invisible demon and recover the missing artifact before hellhounds track them down. The couple race against time for without the magical guidance of the Naughty and Nice List, the world will tumble toward eternal chaos.
She pulled a battered cardboard box from the closet and ran her hand lovingly over the dusty surface. Rosalie’s Christmas Box—her mother’s handwriting clearly visible even after many years. She set up the bedraggled artificial tree and wrapped around the lights. A boxful of handmade ornaments, a few strands of garland and voilâ! Rosalie stood back to admire the results. The top of the tree canted lazily to one side, most of the glitter had fallen off the macaroni wreath, and the craft stick reindeer lacked one googly eye. To her mind, the tree never looked better.
Rosalie placed one final ornament near the top, a bright pink snowflake always hung last. Her father bought the ugly hunk of plastic before he passed away. She loved every garish bit. Austin always ribbed her about the little tradition to jumpstart the holidays. Now he was gone, too. Off to a new job with a new girlfriend in California.
“At least we have each other, Snowflake.”
She slipped into pajamas and made a PB&J. Snuggling under the comforter on the sofa, Rosalie watched TV while she ate. The twinkly glow of the tree lights cast patchy shadows on the wall.
“Life isn’t so bad, Snowflake. The holidays are almost here. Penrose’s always shines during the holidays. Plus, I’ll get my employee bonus soon.”
The thought was enough to perk up Rosalie. Maybe the extra money would keep her a few car payments ahead of the game. She shivered as an errant chill sent a ripple of goosebumps up her arm. Suddenly nervous, she glanced around. The lights didn’t seem so bright anymore, intensifying the drab interior.
Except for one.
The little pink snowflake cast a blood red reflection on the wall as if flashing a warning. She blinked. The image vanished. Rosalie chuckled to herself. Oh brother, I’m really tired. She turned off the TV and staggered into the bedroom. Five minutes after her head hit the pillow, she was asleep.
* * * *
David stood on top of General Robert E. Lee’s head and surveyed the surroundings. The lake at the foot of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was far below surrounded by a mixture of wooded areas and green open fields. As dusk settled, Atlanta’s lights twinkled in the distance. Any other time he would linger over the breathtaking view, but he wasn’t there to sightsee. He closed his eyes and let his senses drift. For a few horrible moments the thread eluded his grasp. Did the connection sever already?
Oh please, not yet.
With undisguised relief, he latched on to the sharp unmistakable pull. The Book was south this time—definitely south. At least, he headed in the right direction. He realized his hands shook and grinned wryly.
You’re not dead yet. Keep ahead of the hellhounds and you’ll be fine.
David’s sharp eyes pinpointed an open spot down on the valley floor over eight hundred feet below. The light was strong enough for him to get a good fix; no cars, no people, nothing to impede a soft landing. He casually stepped off General Lee’s head, and dashed-away in a puff of wind.
AMAZON BUY LINK Free for Kindle Unlimited
L. A. Kelley writes sci-fantasy adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. Her life story only makes sense as a mondegreen.