Sunday, 30 May 2010

I'm a prima donna

dying in the mmmmm
waiting for the mamma
coming with her vest

I am hopeless at remembering song lyrics. The above is my version of Food For Thought by UB40. It was the first single I ever bought and I played it until the grooves on the vinyl were rubbed smooth.

It doesn't help that every singer since Vera Lynn has mumbled into their microphones. I used to put subtitles on when watching Top of the Pops, but the banal lyrical content was ever so depressing. Anyway, I was never sure if UB40's song began with a marina donna, I'm a prima donna, or I'm a green banana. Or - most likely - none of the above.

This mishearing of a phrase is called a mondegreen. Banshee told me this only an hour ago after a vociferous misunderstanding about the whereabouts of an absent bicycle. It was a mystery worthy of the attentions of Poirot and involved a tennis coach, broken brakes, a twisted ankle and TWOCKING (taking without consent). It wasn't my bicycle so I didn't care. I slid beneath the bath water so that all the vociferation was dulled into quite pleasant gobbets of sound. I couldn't tell what anyone was saying - it was like Top of the Pops all over again.

I missed my vocation in life ...


  1. You know, for ages, I thought they were singing, I've a need of mamma. Then UB40 came to play where I was working in 1981. Even though I sneaked in on their sound-check, and saw the whole gig from the edge of the stage, I was none the wiser. It is actually Ivory madonna.....isn't it?

  2. Yes, Martin, it is Ivory Madonna.

    Would you care to share any other mondegreens? I have far too many to mention!

    I saw The Beat play last week. Wonderful. Didn't know any of the words to their songs either ...

  3. Missed vocation? Would that be dancing, or writing indecipherable song lyrics, I wonder? :)

  4. That's funny. I always thought the mishearing of a phrase was called a Monday grin. But maybe I heard wrong.

  5. Haha Fran!!!

    Anyway, Moptop, you HAVE to go to

    You sound too young to be familiar with this song by Desmond Dekker and the Isrealites, but it doesn't matter. The real lyrics are:

    Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir,
    So that every mouth can be fed.
    Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

    My wife and my kids, they are packed up and leave me.
    Darling, she said, I was yours to be seen.
    Poor me, the Israelite. Aah.

  6. Er...Desmond Dekker and The Aces. The song is called The Isrealites.

  7. and this...

    or just go to Youtube and search '30 mondegreens in four minutes.'

  8. Brilliant, Deborah!

    Desmond Dekker played at a friend's Graduation Ball. I crashed the ball, had my drink spiked and behaved very badly once I got home - the less said about that the better. But Desmond was excellent.

    @ Fran - next up spoonerisms. Funny how we have so many words for metting guddled in our words...

  9. Joe Cocker at Woodstock translated.

  10. Thankyou so-o-o much for introducing me to the word mondegreen - I've needed it for so long.

    The only example I can think of is: I used to enjoy singing 'We built this chippy on sausage rolls' (We built this city on rock & roll) ;-)