On You Hear What?

Louie Louie is a classic song. Although written in 1955, it’s The Kingsmen version (1963) that became a hit. Its legendary status includes many awards and even an FBI investigation into its famous hard-to-decipher lyrics … especially at 0:56 mark in the music.

This post is about lyrics, but not those in Louie Louie. Depending on the recording artist, some lyrics are more distinguishable than others. However, there is another factor – what one’s mind hears or even wants to hear.

Let’s take Sway. No matter if its Dean Martin, Michael Bublé, or the Pussycat Dolls, Sway is a wonderful dance song. On to the lyrics …

OldieLyrics.com says, “Other dancers may be on the floor”

I hear, “Other dances may pee on the floor.”

Check for yourself (the first time at 0:47) .. .and do you recall this video?

We were dancing one evening to a very good song for East Coast Swing. Because neither of us knew the song, we listened to the chorus for hints to the song’s title. Because we were close to the computer monitor, we checked it – only to find “EC #28” on the screen, which told us nothing. We kept listening, then finally asked the owner about the song, including my thought about the lyrics – which got a good laugh.

azlyrics.com says, “It’s better to have and don’t need, Than need and don’t have.”

I hear, “You’re havin’ no meat, and meat you don’t have.”

Judge for yourself. (Chorus the first time is at 0:47, then repeated later)

Do you hear what I hear in these songs? Do you have any songs when the words you hear don’t match the lyrics?

95 thoughts on “On You Hear What?

  1. Hey, the bathroom line should have been mine!

    Lyrics have always stumped me, from the time i mistook “Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow” for “Cute baby, draw back your bow and let your arrow fly straight to my mother’s arm for meeeeeee nobody but me.”

    My hearing hasn’t improved. We were walking Duncan on Sunday, when a line of people with “Special Olympics” tee-shirts passed us going the other way. John said something. I asked him to repeat it, but still didn’t hear what he said (in my defense, he mumbles and was facing the opposite direction).

    “OK, when we get back from vacation, I’m getting my hearing tested.”

    John laughed. “Did you hear what I said?”

    “You said ‘I think the first and the last person …. and then I couldn’t hear.”

    “I said ‘I think the first and the last person are deaf.”

    He chuckled for the rest of the day.


  2. This is an epidemic. There isn’t just one song where I’ve sung the lyrics incorrectly, there are many.. The problem is, I’ve sung them a certain way for so long, even after I learn the correct lyrics I stilll sing it the wrong way. 😊


    • George,
      Oh no … Epidemic status makes it out of control. Wow … Therefore, I send you to other comments here because I’m providing the songs when applicable. Maybe some of these will add to your long list.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have never understood a single word in Louie Louie – including the way he pronounces the name! Like George I have so many I no longer know what is right and what is wrong . but I did laugh at your ‘pee on the floor’ at least I heard that line right from dear old Dean 😀


    • Pauline,
      You are proof why the FBI had to investigate the lyrics. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me with your support for my version of Dean’s lyrics. Because you admitted (like George) suffer from Wrong Lyrics Syndrome, there’s good ones in the comments …. especially when you add the song to it (which I’ve done in my reply).


  4. Thank you for completely marring Dino’s version of “Sway” for me, Frank.

    One song with lyrics that were always indecipherable to me for at least 35 years, until in a moment of utter boredom, I Googled them, was the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket”. I’ve always liked that song but I had no idea what the hell she was singing. I don’t know if this stanza is even right, but I found it online:


    How much of that is even English?


  5. I had never heard that Louie Louie had been under FBI investigation. That’s really funny–if not for the poor use of federal funds. But as for lyrics, I wouldn’t be able to think of one just now, but there are many, many where I am just lost! I love to sing along to the BeeGees, and I know I don’t hear the words correctly. I can sing the entire soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever…I’m sure I butcher it. LOL!


  6. How funny that in two of the songs the “problem occurs at 0:47!

    There are so many misunderstood out there…of course now when I want to think of one, I can’t!!


  7. This is a very funny and entertaining post, Frank. I had no trouble hearing the correct words of Sway, but “Better to Have and Not Need” was more typical of today’s decline of language in favor of noise: mumble jumble…


    • Cynthia,
      This post has provided more laughs for me than I expected. The lyrics that you mention, even after knowing the lyrics, it’s difficult for me to to hear that line … especially the “Better to have” portion. Meanwhile, glad that you don’t have the problems that I do .. well, at least when the lyrics are understandable.


  8. When my husband and I were first married, a radio station we listened to used to sometimes do a “Misconstrued Lyrics” segment. I agree Craig’s “There’s a bathroom on the right” is a classic. My husband just said in the Steve Miller band song, “Jet Airliner,” the lyric people heard was “Big old Jed in a line-up” and Jimi Hendrix, “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”


  9. lol, Frank! I’ve gotten so many lyrics wrong, and they were so far off that I wonder what my mind was thinking when it came up with them. Fun post! 🙂


  10. I love this post, Frank! What a lot of fun it is to listen to lyrics and try to string together a line with often undecipherable words. In the 1980’s, the New Zealand band, Split Enz, (later reforming as Crowded House,) brought out a song which my husband swore black and blue was called “Six Elephants in a Leaky Boat”….the actual title was “Six Months in a Leaky Boat”! 🙂


      • I could never hear any mention in the song of elephants, not back then, and not even today! But he was convinced, and he has never lived it down either!

        I’m Australian, Frank. Split Enz/Crowded House became extremely famous as an “Australian” band, as have many great NZ artists over the years. You may have heard of Neil Finn, now a well known song writer, who was a founder of the band.

        More recently, New Zealander Lorde became famous the world over with her song “Royals”, and she made a point of letting everyone know that she was definitely not an Australian! Which reminds me, at the beginning of the chorus of Royals, I often wondered what she was saying there, something about “goaties”, referring to a goatie beard perhaps, I thought….? but no, the actual lyric is “gold teeth”…. lol.


        • Especially because hubby continues to be haunted by elephants, I hope you direct him to this post.

          Thanks for the scoop on NZ artists. I have heard of Neil Finn and know the song Royals … but I connected neither to NZ (until now).

          Duh … I knew you are an Aussie, but it slipped my mind. Sorry about that … and it’s always good to have an Aussie in the house.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Frank, did you just say the PussyCat Dolls? I had to laugh when I saw that. You got style my friend. And I absolutely love Dean Martin and Michael Buble’. I also love Nina Simone and Nora Jones (and so many others). But I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Louie Louie. I am loving this song. Thanks Frank.


  12. And all this time I thought I was the only one who had this trouble with lyrics! I had resigned myself to the fact, in effect saying that it’s “gladly the cross-eyed bear.” 😃


  13. Frank, this is so hilarious! I just butcher songs all the time when I try to sing along to them, which is only in the car when I’m by myself (thank god) The one that really stands out to me as far as not understanding the lyrics is, “My Sharona” for some reason. Will have to look it up once and for all now! Great post as usual.


  14. I remember watching the Dean Martin show with my mother years ago, and I immediately fell in love with his voice. As for remembering lyrics or even song titles, I draw a complete and utter blank, unless of course it is Leonard Cohen.

    ps I’ve been away on an epic east coast vacation, 5500km, I’m back now and full of comments. 🙂


  15. I love the Sway video! Watched it 2ce. Never saw i before. Heard the “p” word 2nd viewing after noting the timing in your post.
    In “Dirty Deeds” by AC/DC, I always heard “dunder jeep”. For 15 years I never questioned it. One day I realized they were “done dirt cheap”
    Resa – commenting from Art Gowns


  16. Interesting topic… honestly I just hear whatever I want to hear in lyrics, unless it’s a Leonard Cohen song or something, and you just have to listen to the words. Mostly I just float with the music… floating floating. Recent song that confused me was Sol Seppy’s Enter One – pretty much a perfect song, but there’s that line that starts the chorus. I won’t spoil what it actually is, but took me several listenings to figure it out.


  17. Incidentally, and I’m giving away all my secrets now, that one odd word stuck with me and turned into a full story… to be featured soon! Maybe anyway. Funny how the smallest moment, the most peculiar wrinkle in a smooth day, can lead to a procession of words and thoughts, but sometimes I guess larger things (not big ones, just larger) start from small ones (not really small, just seem that way). Here’s a video for the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgeJNfCXV_Q

    Song is featured at the end of the Ewan McGregor movie Son of a Gun. The song and the ending makes that movie something special, to me anyway. If you get the chance to listen, let me know if you figure out that word… it’s said twice at the beginning of the chorus.


  18. Frank, I think it must have something to do with the 0:47 mark. The sound on your first video seems to go a little wonky there, and then the other two you have mentioned for yourself. I don’t know whether it’s because you’ve mentioned it, but I heard “other dances may pee on the floor” as well. Classic!


  19. Frank now this is too funny, it takes hearing lyrics to a whole new meaning. Your mind works in mysterious ways – a great afternoon of hear, but not understanding HA, I’ll just listen to the beat and sway away!!


  20. I had to come back to this post as I’m watching The Tonight Show with Christopher Cross signing “Sailing”… who hears “the Candace can do anything”? (Plus a few more spors where I cannot be hearing the right thing!!)
    Bloody hell you get a lot of responses. ..took me forever to get to the bottom!!


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