A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony, in a way that yields a new meaning to the phrase.
“He played rubbery with his lips…”
When all is said and done, that phrase may not quite meet the definition of a mondegreen, but it is certainly a profoundly, incredibly incorrect interpretation of a song lyric. Just how profoundly, incredibly incorrect is the interpretation? Well, for starters, I didn’t even get the first word right. Here is the correct lyric:
“You played robbery with insolence…”
…and I played the blues in twelve bars down on Lover’s Lane. The song in question is “Your Latest Trick” by Dire Straits (as heard on the Brothers in Arms album) and, in my defense, it features plenty of lyrics that a ten-year-old boy would find unusual if not downright impenetrable. That it took me more than twenty years to correct my ten-year-old interpretation is merely a testament to the power of procrastination.
“You must have had a pasty made out of wax.”
I have eaten countless Cornish meat pies—pasties—in the past thirty-odd years; they were a staple of my diet growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the tale of how my Finnish immigrant ancestors came to adopt them is one I won’t go into here. When I was ten I knew that Dire Straits was a British rock band and that the pasty had its roots in the United Kingdom, so it didn’t seem at all unusual to me that Mark Knopfler would sing about wax pasties. Not unusual at all.
“You must’ve had a passkey made out of wax.”
There was a grand total of five entries in the contest, though I was sure that once the Fabulous Prize was revealed I’d see a flood of new e-mail. Every entry was correct, so everyone who entered had a 20% chance of winning the Fabulous Prize. Having cast the die ((I realize that I’m using this idiom incorrectly, but the winner was chosen by die roll and “[h]aving rolled the die” doesn’t sound as cool. Plus, misusing the idiom fits with the theme of the contest.)) I am pleased to announce that the winner of the contest is Natalie Metzger. Natalie will soon be receiving a copy of Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert.
Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. If you didn’t enter the contest for some reason, leave a comment or e-mail me at email@example.com to let me know how I could make future contests (if there are any) more enticing.