Do You Hear What I Hear?

Misunderstood and misinterpreted lyrics have been the subject of  laughter, conversation, many books, films  and T.V!

Take a look at a few hugely popular songs from the 60’s that YOU THINK YOU KNOW! However, after reading today’s post, you may question you’re own ears!

Here are three number one songs. Each one has enjoyed multiple recordings and each one suffered multiple interpretations…

number 1) “Baby I Need Your Lovin

At the bridge does the singer sing a)  ” Every night I call your name”……Or do you hear b)  “Empty nights echo your name”?

Only one is the correct copyrighted lyric! Which one did you hear?

number 2) “She’s Not There”

At the chorus does the singer sing a) “Well let me tell you ’bout the way she looks, the way she acts and the color of her hair”…..Or b) “Well let me tell you ’bout the way she looks, the way she accents the color of her hair”

Only one is the correct copyrighted lyric! Which one did you hear?

Number 3) “House Of The Rising Sun”

At the second verse does the singer sing a) “My mother was a “trade girl,” sold my new blue jeans”….. Or b) “My mother was a tailor, sewed my new blue jeans”

only one is the correct copyrighted lyric! Which one did you hear?

There are plenty more, but were eager to know which of the above lyrics did you hear and do you have any more misunderstood lyrics from the greatest decade of  music for all time…The 1960’s!

Lets hear from YOU!…


  1. Mick seems to have forgotten his uncomfortable tour of the day deer highways of left coast in 1976, when he spent 6 months sleeping in a steamy, claustrophobic VW microbus near the Paramount Studios on Melrose and “Hotel California” ruled the airwaves . The musky scent of mellow music and teen malnutrition inspired all manner of hallucinated lyrics. avorites at the time were unsurprisingly Eagle-related. I can never drive PCH without hearing “Amanada’s definitely twisted”, “She’s got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, she calls “Franz” and the classic opening couplet, “On a dark desert highway/Cool Whip in my hair”…

    • Hey Mick, thanx for more great stories and laughs! Just the imagery of “She’s got a lot pretty pretty boys, she calls FRANZ”
      Whoa, all I can see is a bunch of old naked German guys dancing around
      Yikes…..And I can’t un-see it!
      Thanx Mick for bringing your usual quotient of levity and intelligence to the site…
      Please don’t be a stranger!

  2. Good Morning, Professor Shoemaker. A splendid tune is guaranteed for all who visit your secretive site. Misheard lyrics (a/k/a ‘mondegreens’, a 1950s term that sadly I was hatched knowing, ever since my days as a distracted Katholic Kid in an empty, echoey Brooklyn church. Amazing what a little reverb can do to the sweet sound of a classic like “A Maze Of Grapes”. Still refuse to sing anything other than “Round John Virgin” when the holidays call for “Silent Night”. Don’t even ask me how many years I solemnly intone the opening line to “The Act Of Contrition” as “Oh My God, I am partly sorry…”. Years ago, while driving my 4 year old daughter to day care and listening to K-Earth on an appalling car radio (both vehicle & radio were actually far beyond ‘appalling’), she started laughing to a Beatle track. I thought I’d heard all the faulty Fab Four lyrics, Harrison’s “a taxi like no other lover’, the lysergic “you paid the tax/ he’s the queer on the shore’ etc.) But thanks to her, I’ll never hear “Chicken To Ride” the same way again. And what listener could fail to be touched/confused by Johnny Nash’s upbeat tale of loss (“I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone”, Herman’s Hermit’s pre-“Lola” ode to androgyny “She’s a muscular boy” Springsteen’s wordy torrent of being “blinded by delight, wrapped up like a douche’ or Dylan’s timeless children’s song “The ants are my friends…”. And speaking of friends, you can never go wrong spending four minutes watching the close-captioned version of Joe Cocker’s definitive performance of “With A Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock. Lennon would surely have approved…

    • Hey Mick,
      First we’d like to welcome you to SMS as a contributor! Secondly, congratulations for successfully tainting the way we hear “Hotel California and so many more…. “Cool Whip In My Hair” are you kidding? That’s just brilliant…
      BUT, the clip you posted of Joe Cocker with Sub- Titles killed me, I found myself sitting alone in my office laughing out loud like a mad man…
      If you’re enjoying this blog, click on the link Mick Travis posted….It’s a MUST SEE!
      Thanx Mick…

  3. I would say “There’s a BATHROOM ON THE RIGHT”!!!! HA HA JUST KIDDIN’
    a] “Every night I call your name.”
    b] “Well let me tell you ’bout the way she looks, the way she acts and the color of her hair.”
    c] “My mother was a tailor, she sewed my old blue jeans.”

    Our minds are sooo good at “matrixing”….we WILL put words or even random sounds together to make some semblance of sense. We are constantly “Creating” things that may NOT be there!

    this was fun….we’ll see if I got close!!
    the wood

    • Hey Wood,
      You are correct with b. And c. But a) is “Empty nights, echo your name” as written by Holland Dozier Holland and originally recorded by The Four Tops in 1964. Johhny Rivers covered the song in 1967 and casually improvised “Every night I call your name” Both records were huge hits! Sooo we have both versions in our collective memory….But The Four Tops record is the original, correct and copyrighted lyric. Have we thoroughly confused you? No matter what, as you so eloquently put it “Our minds are so good at Matrixing”
      Thank you, Mr. Wood…

  4. When my son was really small I overheard him singing a Beach Boy’s song:
    “Help me Rhonda, yeah, get her outta my car”

  5. Well, the only one I had doubts about was #1 (went with A)….and now I know why! Thanks for that clarification. Never caught that Johnny changed the line…even though I heard his version first. Strange that once we get locked into a line, it’s hard to hear it any other way, no matter how “correct” it may be.

    Now here’s a question.

    The “official” lyrics to We Gotta Get Out of This Place are always listed “in this dirty old part of the city” but on the US version of the Animals 45 I ALWAYS hear “in the still eye of the city” no matter how hard I try to hear those other lyrics. Got any info on this? It’s only been bugging me for 30 years.

    • Hey John,
      Yeah, misunderstood lyrics is quire a phenomenon! No matter what we may have been told or read can’t change WHAT WE HEAR…. It becomes Gospel for our entire lives!
      Now, about “we gotta get outta this place, all I can tell you is my first hand experience from being in at least 3 cover bands back then and each singer sang “In this dirty old part of the city” and it’s definitely the way I heard it! But….We both know you hear what you hear and nothing can ever change it! Not even the great and powerful “sixties music secrets!
      Lastly, here’s one of my faves. A friend of mine thought she heard Herman’s Hermits sing…. “he’s a Muscular Boy”….for “She’s a must to avoid”……Precious!
      Thanx John…

  6. A little “Nastier” But hey, for a 10 year kid back in ’63 it made for a lot of fun conversations! Thanks for setting me straight on the lyrics, gonna have to have another listen. As for The Beatles, we’re all the better for having experienced them on that glorious night, Feb. 9, 1964. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

  7. Yo! Rick! I’m going with (a) on all three of these guys. And what about, The Kingsmen, “Louie, Louie”? What do *you* think happened, “every night at ten”?

    On another note, 54 years ago today. Feb. 9, 1964:

    The world will never be the same!

    • Hey Jimmy, first of all, we’d like to thank you for posting “The Fab Four and recognizing what we believe should be a national holiday!….Feb. 9th, That night in 1964 when The Beatles made their American Television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show!
      GREAT CLIP my old friend. NOW, about those lyrics….Number 1) The original lyric is actually b) “Empty nights echo your name” That’s how the writers, Holland Dozier Holland wrote it and that’s how The Four Tops recorded it in 1964…….However Johnny Rivers covered the song in 1967 and casually improvised his own lyric with “Every night I call your name”! Sooo, we have both in our collective memory, but the Tops sang it as it was written!
      Number 2) you’re right it’s “A”…..But Number 3….It’s “B”
      Sooo, now that we’ve thoroughly confused you, we want to say thanks again and your right “The World Would never be the same!
      Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…
      Furthermore, Louie, Louie may be the most misunderstood song in history. We don’t have enough space to go deep but, are you referring to the line that actually reads “I smelled a rose in her hair”?….. Or maybe something a little “Nastier”?

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