Jack Ely of Kingsmen enters Hall of Fame (?)

I love my spies. Today, my pal Pamela Meyer, who runs Alchemy Jewelry of Brooklyn, sent me an article from the Chicago Tribune about the topic of mangled lyrics. Here’s a few excerpts that seemed LOUIE-worthy:

On the few occasions when I’ve checked, a song’s actual lyrics turn out to be less interesting that my mistaken understanding of them. Bob Seger is actually singing, “Call me a relic, call me what you will” on “Old Time Rock & Roll.” But I prefer my misinterpretation: “Call me a rabbit, call me what you will … ”

The apparent name for this phenomenon is mondegreens, a word coined by writer Sylvia Wright in the 1950s to describe her childhood misreading of an old Scottish folk song that referred, or so she thought, to “Lady Mondegreen.”

Instead, the song described the slaying of a noble and the townspeople who “laid him on the green.”

The all-time greatest mondegreen may be “Louie, Louie.” The song has been recorded by hundreds of artists, but I refer here to the 1963 hit by the Kingsmen. When the song came out, some parents thought lead singer Jack Ely‘s slurring of the lyrics masked indecent or obscene statements.

This is the first time, I’ve heard of the term “mondegreen,’ so I’m glad to see that someone’s come up with name for this kind of thing.

As it turns out, I recently stumbled upon a book that covers some of the same material. When a Man Loves a Walnut by Gavin Edwards, is a fun little book about mangled lyrics that I recently picked up at a local bookstore.

When A Man Loves a Walnut- the book

As I read this book, I discovered that Jack Ely has been honored with entry into the Misheard Lyrics Hall of Fame:

When A Man Loves a Walnut- it's a LOUIE thing

This is good. I’m glad to see Jack receive more credit for what he’s done.

Incidentally, this book has some wonderful illustrations by Shary Flenniken, a cartoonist that created Trots & Bonnie for the National Lampoon magazine. Check out this funny illustration she did for an misinterpretation of a Buffalo Springfield song:

Cows and People in the Street!

This is a fun little book, and I’d recommend it to anybody that wants a good laugh. If you’d like to buy this book, and support this webpage, I’ll share an Amazon link that will give me a little kickback. If enough people use LouieLouie.net as a referral to Amazon, I might even be able to buy a cup of coffee! Woo hoo!

UPDATE: Gavin Edwards, author of “When a Man Loves a Walnut,” and various other books about mondegreens, has a website / blog – RuleFortyTwo.com.

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