Mishearing lyrics

As far as I can tell, most people find it easier to understand what other people say than to express themselves, but I’m among the other group. Of course, things get worse in a foreign language and likewise when there’s some background noise. Telephoning too is usually a nightmare for me, even in my native tongue.

Probably the extreme example of my unability to understand what somebody sang was Future World by Helloween back in the 80s. At one moment there was something which I heard as “The feeling of /kɔˈhjahanɪʃʌn/ always at your side”. This troubled me a lot as except for the American suffix the word sounded so un-English. Later I came across the written lyrics and discovered that what they actually sang was “The feeling of togetherness is always at your side”. I suppose you may ask how can anybody hear /kɔˈhjahanɪʃʌn/ instead of /təˈgɛðənɪsɪz/. Don’t ask me, but that’s the way it was. A less extreme example might be ABBA’s King Kong Song, where I still hear “a big bad wonderella”, even though by now I know it’s actually “a big black wild gorilla”. Likewise, I’m virtually never sure whether what I’ve just heard was can or can’t. (Long live Scots cannae…)

Things seem to be slowly getting better. Looking up the lyrics of Cheeky for a Reason I found out that my “Milton Sound” was actually “milk turned sour”: /’mɪltən ‘saʊnd/ and /ˌmɪlk tɜ:nd ‘saʊə/ are certainly closer than the above examples. Even so… Tacky Tattoo has a part in which they repeat more than once “I’m not waiting around for the lost or the found to come back around”. What did I hear before finding out in writing? Actually, I wasn’t even certain what language they sang in at the moment, and rather suspected it was Spanish…



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