Kids Sing The Darndest Things

Remember when you finally learned that the Red Hot Chili Peppers weren't singing “with a butter shed this lonely view” but “with the bird I’ll share this lonely view”? Right?! We do, too.

Misheard utterances (usually in the form of song lyrics) are called mondegreens and we’ve got a whole article explaining how they work. Hearing things incorrectly starts pretty much the moment you have ears. Children’s misheard lyrics are especially cute because kids are so ridiculously innocent—even if what they mishear sometimes isn’t! Take a look.

Oh, bring back my body to me!

The traditional Scottish folk song “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” gains a macabre twist when youngsters mishear the lyrics. Children probably picture a headless singer on the ocean cliffs beseeching someone to return the rest of him—which is magically reclining over a huge expanse of water.

Well, when “Home on the Range” was written, you had to “hold on the reins” of your horse to get “home on the range.” Maybe, this little kid had that astute thought in mind. Of course, “hold on the rains” is another interpretation, which is a lot harder to do.

Little ears in church often mishear Christian hymns. And, these mondegreens form the basis of funny jokes, like the kid who comes home from Sunday school and asks Mom how to help Gladly the Bear find glasses. The original lyric, “Gladly the cross I’ll bear” comes from the hymn “Keep Thou My Way.”

With a Starbucks on virtually ever corner, Taylor Swift really could be praising an avid fan of the coffee chain.

But instead, Swift’s line in “Blank Space” is, “Got a long list of ex-lovers.” We’re with the kid, though: We’d rather see pics of beautiful people holding Starbucks cups in awesome mid-stride shots than have a long list of bad relationships.

“Don’t cry, Susanna! It was just a scrape, I didn’t need stitches. And, my bandage has Elsa’s face from Frozen!”

The traditional folk song “Oh, Susanna” is about a traveler on his way to Louisiana, coming “from Alabama with a banjo on my knee” to be with his true love. The song is reassuring the lover of his arrival—unless of course, a little kid hears “Band-Aid” and thinks Susanna’s sad because she doesn’t want to see anyone hurt themselves.

Tiny tots love to play games, but their dreams are probably filled with winning games, not with the pair of dice they use to win them.

Then again, winning a dice game with a “pair of dice” could be “paradise,” which is the lyric the band Coldplay is actually singing. Of course, Coldplay’s paradise is the happy place the girl in the song dreams of when life gets “stormy.”

Rudolph’s red snoot makes him the headliner of Santa’s reindeer. However, many children have been concerned about why Olive, the other reindeer, gets left out! There’s Smasher and Pantser and Jetson and Fix’em—but what about Olive? (Remember her? "All of the other reindeer" don't either.)

Well, while all of the other reindeer are mentioned in the Christmas song, children’s book author Vivian Walsh wrote Olive, the Other Reindeer to make sure Olive (a dog who wants to be a reindeer) isn't forgotten ever again.

Bless this child for not knowing what she’s singing—and for making everyone’s day so much brighter (funny how, here, picturing an odd German man on the toity is a good thing)!

In this case, the youngster probably hears “Schmidt” correctly, but it’s just too hard to say. No kidding! Schm is not the usual way English words begin. And, just wait until she learns to spell it—that silent d is a doozy.

According to this little kid, the hymn “Amazing Grace” is about God’s grace shed on a metal tool that helps secure nuts and bolts in a treehouse. “Save the wrench! We need our fort!” (Actual lyrics: "that saved a wretch like me.")

This sweet babe believes the wrench’s journey (like that of the “wretch” in the original song) is full of peril, “through many dangerous toys and snails.” This original lyric is “through many dangers, toils, and snares,” although “dangerous toys and snails” also presents a terrifying set of enemies to defeat.

“… he spends his very last dime” trying to find more for his granola cereal. In the ears of a child, the classic love song “When a Man Loves a Woman” becomes a lyrical ode to a mighty nut rich with omega-3s. (The actual lyrics: "When a man loves a woman, spend his very last dime.")

The crazy thing is, men really should be in love with walnuts (even though the kid doesn’t know this); two handfuls a day boost reproductive firepower and ensure that men make healthy babies who, too, will believe Michael Bolton’s singing about walnuts.

Speak of the devil—sometimes it’s not the song lyrics that are hard for kids, but the name of the bands who sing them. Case in point: One Direction, a band who, for this child, has been rechristened as having a single excited reproductive organ between them.

One Direction is definitely a tweenie-bopper sensation, but they don’t have that kind of power. Nor—just guessing—would they want to.

To this child, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is about a woman named Glory who the singer didn’t get a chance to know. Not only that, the “coming of the Lord” isn’t triumphant at all, because in this child’s ears, “He has trampled on the village where the great giraffe is stored.” Fear not, though. Glory may be aloof, the Lord may have killed the great giraffe, but “his tooth is marching on.”

Original lyrics: "Glory Glory Hallelujah / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored / His truth is marching on."

Unless we have our religious history wrong, we don’t think the giant purple dinosaur is who Christians pray to as the Son of God.

In the Christmas song “The First Noel,” the lyric “Born is the king of Israel” describes the birth of Jesus. For what it’s worth, though, kids growing up in the 1990s and 2000s absolutely considered Barney a king.

The titular chorus to Imagine Dragons’ song and lyric “Radioactive” is reinterpreted here as a response to the question “Whatcha doin’?” “Riding a rock, dude!” Maybe, when all is said and done, the apocalypse that Imagine Dragons sings about will actually comes to pass, and this kid’s mondegreen will prove true.

Everyone will fill the hours trying to get rocks to move because there’s nothing better to do. Until then, we’ll keep listening to the song and thank those little soothsaying ears.

“Please, whatever you do, Dad, do not bring me to that huge underground scary place with a bazillion people that sometimes smells like pee.” A wise kid who knows what prayers are for. Of course, in the “Lord’s Prayer,” it’s not Penn Station that supplicants are wary of, but temptation: “And lead us not into temptation.”

The “Lord’s Prayer” is particularly challenging for kids to understand. Here are some other funny reinterpretations:

  • “Our Father, makes art in Heaven. How do you know my name?” (Our Father, Who art in Heaven / Hallowed be Thy Name)
  • “Forgive us our trash passes / As we forgive those who pass trash against us” (Forgive us our trespasses / As we forgive those who trespass against us)
  • “Deliver us some e-mail” (Deliver us from evil)

When singing “Silent Night,” if little birdies want to chirp “hold me tight” instead of “holy night,” that’s fine by us. The adorable mondegreens in this show remind us how precious and creative young people are, and how much they deserve to be squeezed!

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