Book of Marvels
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Out of Nowhere

I was sitting here finishing up the day's work when I realized I was singing a favorite song from my youth-- probably of that particular youthfulness at the right, when I was showing off my skirt to my cousin Steven. It was "Winter Wonderland," done now in my dotage with fancy jazz stylings.

I sang the part where the song goes:

In the meadow we can build a snowman
and pretend that he is Parson Brown...

But when I was a kid, I had no idea what a parson was-- never encountered the word, I think, until I started reading about the adventures of British children. So I always sang it this way:

In the meadow we can build a snowman
and pretend that he is parched and brown...

It didn't make any sense to me then, either-- how could a snowman be parched and brown? He'd melt first. But, still, I have to admire my little-girl brain trying to work some kind of logic into the lyrics, inserting the only words that seemed to fit the sounds. I'm probably--we're all probably--still doing this now, encountering things that we don't understand and finding that our subconscious brains scramble to find a solution, even if it doesn't work.

I don't know if anyone still reads this blog since I've gotten so lazy about posting, but I thought it would be fun to hear other people's examples of this kind of stuff from their childhood.

So spill.
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I thought that "dawnserly" was an adjective that described light, as in "the dawn's early light."
"Here come Santa Clause.
Here come Santa Clause.
Right down Santa Clause leg."

Yep, I sang it that way for years.
Helen Losse
Hey, K, R, and I just recently had a discussion in the car as to what the REAL lyrics to the song playing on the radio said.
When quiche was a big deal, we asked MJ's mom if she had ever made any. Never she said, but she was amazed how close "cweshe" sounded when we told her about the ingredients.
Kids in the Bronx understood this to be the lyric of a Christmas carol:

O Gumby, o Gu-u-umby, to Be-eth-le-hem.

Then, also from Winter Wonderland:

"Later on, we'll expire,
As we dream by the fire"
This is so funny.

When I was little I thought the lyrics to the song "Taking Care of Business" were Taking Care of Sisters."

I imagined the singer was the eldest is a large family of children, and the only boy in the bunch.
I remember when Howell Perkins sobbed in first grade because he thought Howell was the Lord's name, Howell be thy name.
Hi everyone--enjoyed all your comments.

Nin's reminded me of a story that my sister-in-law Betty tells. She has a twin sister named Barbara, nicknamed Bobby when they were kids. I guess Betty burst into tears one day when their mother was fixing their hair--she felt woefully excluded from the naming process that had produced Bobby pins but not Betty pins.
I do that with song lyrics all the time. When I come to know of the actual words, which I had been replacing with my illogical assumptions, I get those "Aha" moments that are so enlightening.

Please don't be lazy; I enjoy reading your blog. :)
I used to think "Hot Blooded" was "Hot Blood Ants." It didn't even occur to be that hot blood ants might be strange topic for a song. Oh, those crazy rock'n'roll musicians!
WEll, My grandmother asked why I never wanted to get married and laughed because I was so serious about it and I was only five. But even then I had sense to know that anything that started with "And do you take this man to be your awfully wedded husband?" just wasn't going to turn out well in the end.

I'm happy to say that in spite of all things I've been happily married for eleven years.

River Jordan
Love the awfully wedded husband!

Okay, I was just talking to my son in the car and told him that I had completely forgotten about some incident from last year. He said, "That might be a blessing in the sky."

You might have to read this post from last year to really enjoy this:

Surely, there must be a name for this particular brand of verbal confusion.
It took until my twenties before I ever got the joke "what's black and white and read all over," because all I could think of was the color red.
Two examples:

My oldest sister used to sing "Rock-a my soul in the boots of Abraham" (instead of "bosom")...

Her daughter thought the "Alleluia" greeting at the beginning of mass was "Howdy to ya."

There is a name for these confusions. They're "mondegreens," which is itself a mondegreen. Google the word or check out collections of them at the library. They're hilarious.
Here's a book title...

"'Scuse me-- while I kiss this guy" and other misheard lyrics by Gavin Edwards
Actually, I STILL do that--particularly with the lyrics from my kid's music.

In childhood, I used to sing a verse from Silent Night as Drown yon virgin, mother and child...
There's actually a term for this phenomenon. It's called a "mondegreen." The word itself is a mondegreen. You can look it up. (My favorite example comes from an old Dave Barry column on the topic. Think of the first lines of the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda." Here's how Barry heard it:

"Well since you put me down
there's been owls pukin' in my bed."
"Owls puking in my bed..."

Surely the original lyrics can't be as good as that!
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