FUN WITH MISHEARD SONG LYRICS
At the Accept show I went to last week, I had a pretty funny moment with the boy when I said that it sounded like they were singing “We are nice” instead of “Neon nights.” Which got me thinking: I mishear lyrics a lot. It could be because I’m deaf, or people just don’t enunciate, or that most of the bands I listen to don’t really know English that well so they probably are singing stupid shit. Or it could be that I’d rather hear something than what I actually do — I mean, Bob Ezrin wanted a new, edgy song to appeal to those hip youngsters and thought Alice Cooper was singing “I’m edgy,” instead of “I’m eighteen.” Personally, I’m way more entertained with what my brain, or other people’s brains (as I got some volunteers for this task), comes up with. So here are a few songs that made it to my Misheard Lyrics Hall of Fame.
There are some lyrics that the brain will just completely rework like The Haunted’s “Hollow Ground.”
Actual lyrics: “As the scars on my skin will show.”
Misheard as: “I just came from a Skid Row show.”
As well as The Poodles’ “Band of Brothers.”
Actual Lyrics: “Quick is the word and action’s sharp.”
Misheard as: “We give this worm an axe and chip.”
Then there are the songs where the difference is in one, pivotal word, like In Flames’ “Crawl Through the Knives.”
Actual Lyrics: “It’s in my hands.”
Misheard as: “It’s in my ass.”
Or The Scorpions’ “Alien Nation,” which I heard as “Aryan nation,” and kind of had to stop and blink. Herr Meine, you want to rephrase that? Oh, my mistake sorry, sorry. This is how international incidents start.
Not to mention “Toast of the Town.” I always thought Motley Crue were talking up a certain establishment with this ditty, “Hey, hey, hey, hey kid the whorehouse is shaking.” Nope. Apparently the whole house was shaking, but doesn’t my version just make more sense? I would hope a whorehouse would be shaking, or else it’s not a very good whorehouse.
Mott the Hoople aren’t technically metal, but the more pretentious bands will always cite them as an influence, and “All The Young Dudes,” is just a muddle of one-off words because Ian Hunter… though I love your curly mop, you sir, are a mumbler. “Oh man, I need T.B.,” indeed (it was T.V.).
Brian Johnson is another indecipherable gentleman, but rather than go learn a whole new language to understand him and his various compositions, I give you this gem from, “Shot Down in Flames.”
There are a couple that just make giggle every time, like Gun N’ Roses’ “Paradise City.”
Actual lyrics as everyone knows them: “Take me down to the paradise city.”
Infinitely better lyrics: “Take me down to the very nice city.”
And let’s segue into hair/glam land right here with Dokken’s “Turn on the Action.”
Actual lyrics: “I’m like a wild cat at midnight.”
Mine: “I’m like wild pants midnight.”
Bon Jovi’s “Keep the Faith,” always sounded like “I’m broken like Malraux” instead of an arrow. (Like that ‘90s John Travolta/Christian Slater movie. God, I used to love that film. I want ‘90s action movies to come back so badly.) But I admit, I may have been studying French existentialists in school when I first pieced that together. (Ugh, if there was every a group of people I would have loved to smack, it was the French existentialists. I hate you, Sartre, and your little Simone de Beauvoir tart, too.)
The best misheard lyric from an ‘80s band, though, is Warrant with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Actual lyrics: “Over in the bushes…”
Mine: “Oven in the bosoms.”
Non-English speaking bands always have a trove of treasures, but “mangled English lyrics” is another article for another day. Still, I can’t not mention these winners.
Eluveite, “Bloodstained Ground.”
Actual lyrics: “Do you breathe in dreams?”
Misheard as: “Do you breathe in grapes?”
Sabbat, “Black Magic Circle of Witches.”
Actual lyrics: “Candles dark shine on a mass of witches.”
Misheard as: “Cowboys rap, surround myself with cheese.”
The boy and I as we fell over laughing at our own interpretations of Metalucifer’s “Heavy Metal Ironfist,” which features the lyric “Raise your fists up high.” I went for “Raping you on piece of pie,” while the boy went with the more eloquent “Racing you on pizza pie.”
There’s brilliance in simplicity as well, like with Unearth’s “Zombie Autopilot.”
Actual lyrics: “Our busy minds asleep.”
Misheard as: “I’m pissing myself.”
Or Kataklysm’s “Shadows and Dust.”
Actual Lyrics: “In shadows and dust.”
Misheard : “Eat shadows and die.”
Credit for that last one actually goes to a friend, but this one is all me — Hellacopters’ “In the Sign of the Octopus.”
Actual Lyrics: “And all the playful gentlemen.”
Mine: “And ho! The playful gym man.”
But if you have to cut those who don’t speak for those who don’t speak English as their first language some slack (and I don’t speak English as a first language, so that’s another excuse for me), but what do you say about those who were raised speaking English? Not only does Metallica’s James Hetfield add seven more syllables to every other word (worst/best idea ever for a drinking game…we were done by the second song on S&M), but what’s with the “Anal sex!” exclamation on “Dyer’s Eve?”
Oh. It was “Innocence.”
Honorable mention goes to Edguy’s “Pride of Creation,” because I thought there was no way Tobias Sammet was singing about an aardvark. Yes. He was. The song is about God talking to an aardvark (among other things). Also to David Bowie, another non-metal artist just because, well, I can. From, “Modern Love.”
Actual lyrics: “Don’t believe in God and man.”
Misheard as: “Don’t believe in gardening.”
And the one everyone misheard, from “China Girl.”
Actual lyrics: “I feel a wreck without my, little China Girl.”
The civilized world’s version: “I feel erect without my, little China Girl.”
A bonus for you because you read all the way to the end! “I,” from Devin Townsend’s Devlab. What, pray tell, is he saying?
Any other good ones out there? I challenge you.