Lady Mondegreen

A few years ago, I had a hilarious conversation with my mother.

We had both always loved Simon & Garfunkel; she had obviously instilled in me great taste in music.  And we were singing along to The Boxer in the car.  I was probably out in California for a visit.

Woah.  Stop.  Did you just sing “come-ons from the WARS on Seventh Avenue”? I asked her suddenly, turning down the music.

Yes, she said, That’s the line.  The WARS on Seventh Avenue.

It was like she thought Paul Simon was talking about PTSD or something.

It’s “whores,” mother.  The lyric is “whores.”

What?!

Yes.

Oh.  That makes so much more sense. 

A beat.

I’ve been singing “wars” since the late ’60s.

For obvious reasons, I found this uproariously funny.  Because…what did she think was on Seventh Avenue prior to the 1990s?!  I mean, seriously.

The point, though, is sometimes we hear things that speak to us where we are, and we don’t hear the things that are really being said.  And I suppose in the late ’60s, maybe “wars” made more sense than “whores.”

But, for what it’s worth, the line is about the world’s oldest profession.  And the fact that my mother had been singing the wrong lyric for a beloved song — and had been doing so for over 40 years — was awfully funny.

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  1. I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now… And there’s always the old line from Creedence Clearwater about “the bathroom on the right” (Tongue planted firmly in cheek)

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