6 Misheard Song Lyrics Explained

by Mark MacDonald, Staff Writer

Sometimes you’re listening to a song you love, singing along, when all of a sudden you have no idea what on earth they are saying. Usually we make up our own words to fill in the blanks, anything from “Hold me closer Tony Danza” to “Do it like a lady” but to clarify some of the more misunderstood lyrics here’s a quick guide.

1.Blinded by the Light

Blinded by the Light Single Cover

“Blinded by the Light” Single Cover

Written by Bruce Springsteen and featured on his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, “Blinded by the Light” was made famous by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in their 1976 cover of the song. Most of the lyrics are easy to understand, but it is the signature line of the song that many people misunderstand. Funny enough, this specific line was changed by Manfred from the original Bruce Springsteen lyric. Bruce’s version was written:

“Blinded by the light, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night”

Keyword there: deuce. Manfred changed the lyric slightly to:

“Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night”

But you get the idea; it’s deuce, not douche.

2.Across the Universe

Across the Universe is featured on the album Let it Be

“Across the Universe” is featured on the album Let it Be

The Beatles’ classic song was written in 1967, when the band was in their psychedelic rock phase and influenced by their interest in transcendental meditation. Although the verses were  inspired by John Lennon’s wife, in his words, “going on and on about something,”  the refrain is a Sanskrit phrase that means “glory to the shining remover of darkness.”

The refrain is:

“Jai guru deva om”

3.Street Spirit

"Street Spirit" is featured on the album The Bends

“Street Spirit” is featured on the album The Bends

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has a distinctive voice and melodic style that often leaves people humming or taking their best guess when trying to sing along. One such instance is their 1995 hit “Street Spirit” (which also had an amazing music video). Listen to it enough times and you will understand most of the verses clearly (though some words surprised me) but the refrain sounds like it could be any number of things. I knew I had it wrong. The full lyrics are as follows:

Rows of houses, all bearing down on me/I can feel their blue hands touching me
All these things into position/All these things we’ll one day swallow whole
And fade out again and fade out

This machine will, will not communicate/These thoughts and the strain I am under
Be a world child, form a circle/Before we all go under
And fade out again and fade out again

Cracked eggs, dead birds, scream as they fight for life/I can feel death, can see its beady eyes

All these things into position/All these things we’ll one day swallow whole

And fade out again and fade out again

Immerse your soul in love/Immerse your soul in love

4.Yellow Ledbetter

is the B-Side of the single Jeremy

“Yellow Ledbetter” is the B-Side of the single Jeremy

Though one of the first songs Pearl Jam wrote as a group, “Yellow Ledbetter” was not released as part of the band’s debut album Ten but was instead featured as the second B-side to the 1992 single Jeremy. The song, included in Pearl Jam’s greatest hits album, is consistently misheard. Eddie Vedder has stated the lyrics are derived from a life experience when a friend of his received a yellow letter in the mail informing him his brother had died in the first Gulf War. Here are the lyrics:

Unsealed on a porch a letter sat/Then you said I want to leave it again
Once I saw him/On a beach of weathered sand
And on the sand I want to leave it again
On a weekend want to wish it all way/And they called and I said I want what I said

And then I call out again
And the reason ought to leave her calm I know/I said I know what I wear that a boxer or the bag

Oh yeah can you see them?/Out on the porch
Ah, but they don’t wave/I see them
Round the front way, yeah/And I know and I know
I don’t want to stay
Make me cry

I see I don’t know there’s something else/I wanna drum it all away
Oh, I said,  I don’t, I don’t know whether I was the boxer or the bag

Oh yeah can you see them?/Out on the porch
Ah, but they don’t wave/I see them round the front way, yeah
And I know and I know/I don’t want to stay, I don’t want to stay
I don’t want to stay

5.Panama 

Panama is featured on Van Halen's album 1984

“Panama” is featured on Van Halen’s album 1984

Featured on Van Halen’s hit album 1984, the song “Panama” is one of the band’s most recognized songs, though many confuse the signature line in the song with something else. The hit single, David Lee Roth has admitted, has nothing to do with the Central American country, and is rather inspired by a car and an exotic dancer. Regardless, the refrain is not “Animal!” as many have interpreted it but, indeed, “Panama.”

6.What Wouldn’t Meatloaf Do For Love?

"I Would do Anything for Love" is featured on Meatloaf's album Bat Outta Hell II

“I Would do Anything for Love” is featured on Meatloaf’s album Bat Out of Hell II

Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell II was a wildly successful album upon its release in 1993. One of the hit singles, “I Would Do Anything For Love” reached certified platinum in the US and the song was the best-selling single in the UK that year. The famous line, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that,” to some, was ambiguous and even up for personal interpretation. Not according to Meatloaf. In a 1998 VH1 special, the artist even explained it on a blackboard. Just to be clear, there are six things Meatloaf won’t do for love:

  1. Forget the way you feel right now
  2. Forgive [himself] if we don’t go all the way tonight
  3. Stop dreaming of you every night
  4. Do it better than [he does] it with you
  5. See that it’s time to move on
  6. Screw around