Say What!? A Tribute To Famous Misheard Song Lyrics


We’ve all had that moment of lyric-related shock. You’re singing along to your favorite tune in the car with a friend when he or she turns down the radio and turns to look at you.

“What did you just say?” you are asked.

You repeat the lyric you just belted out, only to be met with laughter as your friend explains that the lyric you’ve been singing for the past decade is hilariously incorrect.

Though songwriters may pride themselves on their poignant and thought-provoking words, it’s common for fans to jumble these sentiments and create an entirely new meaning for the tune.

By now, you’ve probably met someone who thought Jimi Hendrix was singing, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” during “Purple Haze” when he was actually singing about kissing the sky.

Those who enjoyed the pop smash “Oops! I Did It Again” by Britney Spears are often surprised to find out that the lyrics actually state, “That I’m sent from above” and that Britney was not, in fact, singing about “medicine from a dove.”

Other common misheard lyrics include:

“Don’t go around tonight, well it’s bound to take your life, there’s a bathroom on the right” from CCR’s song “Bad Mood Rising.” In reality, the lyrics go, “there’s a bad moon on the rise.” This one small tweak changes the meaning of the song quite a bit.

Some people thought Elton John was singing, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” when he was actually saying, “Hold me closer, tiny dancer.”  Needless to say, that was not correct.

Rolling Stones fans may have wondered why the group got involved with a pizza shop as they sang, “I’ll never leave your pizza burning.” In reality, the song says, “I’ll never be your beast of burden.” Given the title of the tune, it makes a lot more sense.

If you were a fan of the ‘90s classic “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba, you may have felt unsure about why the song explained, “I got no thumb, but it grew back again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” In reality, the group was singing, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” It’s okay; the British accents must have thrown you off.

Take a second listen to Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and you’ll realize that Kurt Cobain is actually not saying, “Here we are now, in containers” but rather, “Here we are now, entertain us.”

Interestingly enough, as I was creating this post I realized that for roughly two decades I’ve been butchering the lyrics to Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know.” I always wondered why she was singing, “It’s not fair to deny me of the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me.” In reality, no teddy bears were harmed in the making of this song. She’s actually saying, “It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me.”

Now that I’ve admitted my lyrical faux pas, it’s your turn. Tell me about a famous song lyric that you’ve taken some “creative license” with in the past.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.


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