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Everyone is familiar with mondegreens, even if not with the word.
Mondegreens are quotations in which the hearer misheard what the speaker
said. The best example, I think, is the line that so many people swear they
hear in Credance Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon a'Risin'" (at least I think
CCR is the group and "Bad Moon a'Risin" is the title). The line is not
"there's a bathroom on the right." It's "there's a bad moon on the rise."
The name mondegreen refers to a "quotation" from the lyric of an old English
folk song in which there is a reference to a "Lady Mondegreen". In fact, the
lyric refers to some hero who was shot "and they laid him on the green"
(where his lover threw herself on his body--it was a sad song).
In any event, this one is not a true mondegreen, but as I was listening to
"Easy Ed" Shannon close his show this morning on WADN, he played Kate
Smith's rendition of Irving Berlin's classic "God Bless America." (Ed closes
every show that way. After all, no show is over until the fat lady sings and
Kate Smith sure was a fat lady.) There's a line we all know in that song:
"Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night, with the light from
above." My assumption is that Berlin meant "stand beside her and use the
'light from above' to guide her through the night." Now, that's not poetic,
but it's unambiguous. I assume that Berlin was referring to a conceptual
light--the light of truth, for example, and not some form of visible light.
I really don't think Berlin was referring to a night in which there was
light from above--though such nights are not exactly rare; all it takes is a
clear sky and a full moon. Anyone have any opinions on what that well-known
lyric really means? Has anyone else ever thought about it?
Dan Strassberg (Note: Address is CASE SENSITIVE!)
ALL _LOWER_ CASE!!!--> firstname.lastname@example.org
(617) 558-4205; Fax (617) 928-4205