[Ed. note: This is the 27th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]
Have you been to the @U2 forum lately? For the last two-and-a-half years, in one specific thread, members have been discussing misheard lyrics of U2 songs. The @U2 staff thought that some of these were brilliant, insightful, and if nothing else, hilarious!
These little misinterpretations, technically known as mondegreens, often give a song a new or unintended meaning and are more abundant and common than people might think. Again and again, forum members have commented, "I thought I was the only one who heard that!" Not true. If you have heard a lyric wrong in a U2 song there's a good chance someone else has too.
Even our crack @U2 staff has heard things that aren't there. In "Kite," Aaron remembers singing about a "cat blowing out of control on a breeze" instead of a "kite blowing out of control on a breeze." Arlan heard, "The city walls are all Gauguin" in place of "The city walls are all come down" in "A Sort Of Homecoming." Rashas thought "Not on a ramp or on chalk" in "Grace" was "Or a rapper on the chart." And I sang, "Won't you light my way" instead of Edge's ethereal "Ultraviolet love" for more years than I want to admit.
But this "U2 List" is not about us. This one is about you and written by you, the readers of @U2. Below are 15 of the best misheard lyrics I found in the forum. So, sit back and enjoy the wisdom (and humor) of your fellow forum members, and when you're through, pop over to the forum thread and add your own misheard lyrics!
DISCLAIMER: This article could end up being the most dangerous thing you have ever read about U2. Once these little lyrical tidbits have lodged in your brain it might be hard to forget them; some of the lyrics you have so dearly cherished may never sound the same.
15. "Please." It is possible that those high-tops you wear playing basketball might be some of the cause for the Troubles in Ireland, especially if you're religious. What's making the news? "Your Catholic blues, your Converse shoes."
Correct lyric: "Your Catholic blues, your convent shoes."
14. "Stand Up Comedy." It appears that Bono is hiding his age fairly well. Some fans hear him say, "I can stand up for hope, faith, love / But while I'm getting over seventy / Stop helping God across the road / Like a little old lady."
Correct lyric: "I can stand up for hope, faith, love / But while I'm getting over certainty."
13. "The Fly" and "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)." It's been said that these insects could survive a nuclear holocaust and The Fly knows it: "It's no secret that a cockroach can sometimes be a pest." Or, staying with an insect theme, you might just be "Dressed up like a cockroach / The wheels are turning but you're upside down." Am I buggin' you? Don't mean to bug you …
Correct lyric from "The Fly": "It's no secret that a conscience can sometimes be a pest." Correct lyric from "Stay": "Dressed up like a car crash."
12. "Until The End Of The World." There probably wouldn't be anything quite as shocking as one of the planet's largest animals bounding into the room. At least that's what this mondegreen suggests. "You lead me on with those innocent eyes / You know I love the elephant of surprise." And another one from this song seems to favor a more romantic environment: "In the garden I was playing guitar …" Serenade, anyone?
Correct lyrics: "You know I love the element of surprise" and "In the garden I was playing the tart."
11. "Bullet The Blue Sky." A widely reported misheard lyric involves a hammer and a Kmart Blue Light Special. Reflected in a barbaric and criminal act, it appears that someone is "driving nails into the souls of the chia pets."
Correct lyric: "See it driving nails / Into souls on the tree of pain."
10. "Breathe." We're a bit confused about where the narrator of this song acquired his illness. A number of fans think he's "coming down with some Malaysian virus." That would probably place him somewhere in Borneo.
Correct lyric: "I'm coming down with some new Asian virus."
9. "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." We're aware that Bono is friends with many influential people, but do you know why he has a special fondness for a certain actress/philanthropist/postmodern priestess? "When I was all messed up, I had Oprah in my head."
Correct lyric: "When I was all messed up and I heard opera in my head."
8. "Kite." As of the year 2000 it seems that Bono wasn't happy with just four children. At least that's what some fans are hearing: "I demaaaaaa-aand another child!"
Correct lyric: "I'm a man, I'm not a child."
7. "Desire." Do you like horses? If so, this one is sure to delight you, though it looks like Bono favors the delinquent kind: "Sister, I can't let you go / Like pizza-stealing horse in a traveling show." Now that's a line you should not try on your significant other.
Correct lyric: "Like a preacher stealing hearts in a traveling show."
6. "Get On Your Boots." This is another animal-themed misheard lyric especially for those free spirits from Canada: "Get on your moose, Yeah!" And still another about one of God's ornery little creatures: "All the kids are screamin' but the goats aren't real." No wonder this song secured a place on our list for "Uses of Nature in U2 Songs."
Correct lyric: "All our kids are screaming but the ghosts aren't real."
5. "Mofo." Lots to misinterpret here, but one phrase that causes consternation for many usually comes out something like, "Wheee-ooo wham bam, Whee-oo wham bam," or, as equally strange, "Little red dress, little red dress." C'mon now, admit it – can you really hear "Been around back, been around front?"
Correct lyric: "Been around back, been around front."
4. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own." No explanation (or visuals) needed: "Sometimes you get naked on your own."
Correct lyric: "Sometimes you can't make it on your own."
3. "Wild Honey." Our favorite guitar player and mad scientist is the subject of this misheard lyric. Apparently, "you can do just what you please, wild honey," because "Edge's blowing in the breeze, wild honey." Or worse yet, we find "Edge exploding in the breeze, wild honey." Either way, it doesn't seem to be too far out of character for our space hero.
Correct lyric: "Yeah, just blowing in the breeze, wild honey."
2. "Beautiful Day." Here's one for the cat lovers out there. It appears that some fans idolize their furry family pets enough to see them falling from the heavens: "It's a beautiful day, the sky's full of felines / It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away!" I've heard of it raining cats and dogs, but …
Correct lyric: "The sky falls and you feel like it's a beautiful day."
1. "Mysterious Ways." One of the most common misheard lyrics comes from one of U2's all-time greatest hits. It seems that some fans have a subconscious affinity for famous sea mammals because what many have heard Bono celebrating all these years is, "Shamu, the mysterious whale." All together now, everybody sing, "It's alright, it's alright, it's alright …" And, finally, an alternate to this misheard lyric pays homage to the cow – "She moos in mysterious ways!"
Correct lyric: "She moves in mysterious ways."
(c) Neufeld/@U2, 2011.