garbled song words

I got no town, but I can open one,

you’re never gonna get my town.

-Ashlea Nissen

Image courtesy of suphakit73 at

Something we are all guilty of, I’m sure, is misunderstanding the words to a favourite song – and then singing those words, perhaps forever or at least until somebody laughs at you until tears roll from their eyes and they can no longer breathe. If you’re lucky, this person will tell you the correct lyrics – but, sadly, the incorrect ones are probably burned forever into your vocal cords.

Poor Ashlea. All she did a couple of years ago was sing along to a song on my iPod within my earshot … and in true style (inherited from my father), I have yet to let her live it down.

The song was Tubthumping, by Chumbawamba. The actual lines were:

I get knocked down, but I get up again,

you’re never gonna keep me down.

Ashlea’s words, although weird, were catchy and, even several years after the event, every time this song comes on, we all sing Ashlea’s version, except for Ashlea who is too busy telling us to get over it – and rightly so.

But we can’t.

I am quite sure mishearing the lyrics of a song is not at all uncommon. It could all be solved by singers enunciating properly as they sing … “… like they used to in my time …” according to my grandparents.

That is probably never going to happen though, so we might as well have a bit of fun with it.

Three more examples from my children recently:

  1. It’s summertime for the world  = I’m on top of the world   This one courtesy of Geordie when he was listening to Imagine Dragons sing ‘On top of the world’.
  2. Porky wading … oh you’re porky wading for = What you waiting … no, what you waiting for?    Another Geordie favourite from George Ezra’s Blame it on me.
  3. Nice, sweet, fine diced meat = Nice, sweet, fantastic    I don’t remember who this came from, but it was born one day when we were watching Madagascar (the song is I like to move it) and now they both sing it.

I know I’ve certainly sung along to many a song using totally the wrong words … or the mumble singing we all do when we get a part of a song we don’t know. This brings to mind the Mr Bean episode when he is in church and the only part of the hymn he knows is ‘Hallelujah’ … the rest is mumble. (The point of this episode, I think, is the lolly going into his snot-filled pocket … but the singing is funny too.)

Mumble singing and totally wrong lyrics are both causes for embarrassment – but, come on, we all do it.

We might as well laugh about it – beats feeling mortified.


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