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SAY, WHAT? ‘Pirates, Peanuts and Cracker Jacks’


By Tara Yilmaz

“Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the crowd. Pirates and peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don’t care if I never get back” Let me root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.”

→ Did you know when lyrics to a song are misinterpreted it’s called mondegreen? Defined as a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives new meaning, this often happens when the listener is unable to hear the lyrics clearly. They will substitute words that sound similar.

For instance, “Got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips, hold me tighter than my very own jeans.”

The 2010 three-time Grammy Award-winning song “Single Ladies” by Beyonce had single, engaged, married and partnered women singing loud and proud whether it be in the privacy of their homes, vehicles, or on the dance floor. Little did so many know the correct phrase is: “Got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips, hold me tighter than my Dereon jeans.” Mondegreen could be eerily compared to the Mandela Effect, which is when a group of people suffer from the same false memories.

→ Did you know Ed McMahon was never the spokesperson for Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes? Frightening! Millions of Americans from sea to shining sea collectively and vividly remember seeing Ed McMahon show up surprisingly on Americans doorstep holding a large cardboard check. However, McMahon was the spokesperson for American Family Publishers, another company that sold magazine subscriptions and went bankrupt in 1998.

“I’m prepared to go down with the ship. I don’t care what anyone says. I remember watching Ed McMahon arriving unexpectedly at a winner’s house with balloons, him holding a microphone and a big paper check.

I didn’t see it just one time, I’ve seen it dozens of times growing up in the 90s,” said Amanda Bundy from the South Side.

Bundy is not alone in her steadfastness. There is a growing movement on social media that is prepared to standby and swear on a stack of Bibles the late Ed McMahon was the spokesperson for Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

→ Did you know mondegreens also appear in television sitcom theme songs? In 1974, “Good Times,” the American sitcom about a poor family making the best out of poverty while living in the projects of Chicago, captivated audiences not only for its ability to bring laughter to poverty but for having a groovy theme song.

“Good Times. Any time you meet a payment. Good times. Any time you need a friend. Good times. Any time you’re out from under. Not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Keepin’ your head above water. Making a wave when you can.”

Simple enough to sing, but here is where it gets tricky.

“Temporary layoffs. Good times. Easy credit rip-offs. Good times. Scratchin’ and survivin’. Good times.”

After this, most television viewers inserted their mondegreens. People would sing “hanging in a chow line” or “hanging in a jury.” For decades before Google, viewers scrambled to get the correct lyrics and failed miserably.

So much so, the first season DVD box set falsely stated the lyrics were, “hangin in a chow line,” when in fact the songwriter’s Alan and Marilyn Bergman confirmed the lyrics are “hangin’ and jivin’.”

There is no one universal reason why people mishear song lyrics. Various factors play a part in people mispronouncing words, from the first step of sound waves traveling through the ear canal and vibrating the eardrum, artists’ lack of clarity when singing, to a stadium full of people singing all at once. It wasn’t until June 24, when I learned the lyrics to “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” were not “Pirates and peanuts and Cracker Jacks,” but “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.”



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