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A Distant Chipmunk on the Horizon

Those of you familiar with Pink Floyd's song, Comfortably Numb, may not recognize the following line from that song:

"A distant chipmunk on the horizon."

And rightly so. It isn't in there. However, to some, that is the line that immediately follows, "There is no pain, you are receding."

This sort of thing comes from people listening to, but not understanding, the lyrics of a song, poem, or other. It is human nature to try to make sense of what is heard, and it is a well-known scientific fact that, if a person doesn't understand what is said (for example, if their vocabulary doesn't include the word or phrase), they will translate the words into the nearest set of sounds that make sense to them.

Sometimes, the problem is pronounciation, always a problematic thing with rock musicians. For example, for years I thought Creedence Clearwater Revival was singing, "There's a bathroom on the right." (I am not making this up.) I am embarrassed to admit how long it took for me to finally figure out that what they were really singing was "There's a bad moon on the rise." My only excuse is that this is how my mother sang the song, and I didn't think she could be wrong.

At the time, I also didn't know that the name of the song was "Bad Moon." In fact, it was when I first learned that the name of the song was "Bad Moon" that the penny dropped and I realized what they had been singing all along. Until then, I thought "There's a bathroom on the right" was one of those strange, surrealistically random phrases that rock musicians were fond of putting into their songs in that era.

Mishearing song lyrics (and other such things) isn't new, though it has become more popular to codify and collect the mishearings. There is even a term for misheard lyrics: mondegreens. If you Google for the word "mondegreen," you'll find any number of Web sites devoted to the topic (and explaining the origin of the term), though my favorite misheard lyrics site, which you won't find by searching for mondegreen, is http://www.amiright.com/.

While checking out that site, I was relieved to find that I was not the only one who thought that Creedence was singing about a bathroom on the right. Though chipmunk lovers everywhere may be disappointed to learn that that Pink Floyd lyric should be "a distant ship's smoke on the horizon."


"You are only coming through in waves"..... "This is not how I am". :-)

Much could be said about the visions of the music contained within the words.....or is it the words within the music. Music (vibrations) I think is also a doorway somehow. I don't know how...I *just* know. :-) Some reason I made it here.

Songs you hear with different words than those intended have a peculiar name - they're called mondegreens. Being that my name is Monde and I'm a Green, I always was amused by this.

I wonder if some bands do this on purpose.
I'm an avid TOOL fan, and in one song in particular I run into something like this.

NOTE: The following may be offensive to some people.

On the cd: Undertow, track 2 entitled: Prison Sex
There is a line: "..release in sodomy." Is how it's sung.
Futher in the song the line is sung again and although it may be the same line, it sounds an awful lot like: "..release inside of me."

I looked in two different sources for the actual lyrics. www.toolband.com and www.toolshed.down.net
That line of lyric was different on both sites, not at all what is actually sung in the song.
Though Toolshed does say that "Some Tool songs undergo slight lyrical variations in each performance..."

A mondogreen, or done purposely? I guess that's up to the listener.

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