That’s a mondegreen, a kind of aural malapropism. Where the latter are mistakes of speech, mondegreens are misheard songs. Jem recently posted – with her permission of course: he’s a very caring dude – his partner Lou’s mondegreen on Lennon’s Across the
But back to Dylan, whose own mondegreen of the Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand may have changed – I kid not – the course of music history. One night circa 1964, as the four played cards in a New York hotel, there was a rap at the door: Mr Tambourine Man himself on the threshold unannounced, their very first in the flesh encounter. Within minutes he was rolling a joint, an activity hitherto unseen by the Liverpudlians, whose leisure chemicals ran more in the direction of alcohol and dexedrine. Their mystification mystified Dylan. “But what about that song of yours? You know .. ” He leaped into the air to come down with a crash on “I get high! I get high!”
An embarrased John was obliged to explain that the words were, in fact, ‘I can’t hide. I can’t hide‘. But from that night on the Beatles were daily tokers. Could Revolver and Sgt Pepper be entirely contingent on that meeting? Well, no – they hung out with Keith Richard for god’s sake! – but it’s a great story all the same. And the true bit is that his own mondegreen did have Dylan turning the Beatles on.
Speaking of whom, my daughter Fran once stopped me, mid rendition of the Fab 4’s Baby You Can Drive My Car. A big fan, she wasn’t gonna stand for any more I want any favours; I’ll start to scream. “Those aren’t the words”, she said witheringly. “It’s I wanna be famous, a star of the screen “. Which thrilled me to bits. My teachers had derided our musical heroes. At Spurgeons Homes one carer – not a sexual abuser but a real bully with refined tastes in humiliation – had assured me, on one of his good days, that when I grew up and had children they’d know all about Beethoven and Mozart, but would never have heard of the Beatles. Sometimes, being proved wrong only serves to prove you right on a higher plane …