The ants are my friends



One of the big ideas in CopyCopyCopy is that doing copying the right way can create novel and original things, because – if you do it right – copying creates error.

Sometimes of course, those errors make the new thing less than wonderful (like most of the endless Keep Calm Carry On iterations we discuss in the book); sometimes however they create delicious and

The Mondegreen is a great example of this. A mondegreen is a mishearing (deliberate or accidental) of a song lyric. It’s phrase coined by writer Sylvia Wright in an article in Harpers Nov 1954, entitled “The death of Lady Mondegreen”. As she observed, “The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original.”

I remember taking great pride as a 6 year old singing “When Shepherds washed their socks by night”, loudly and clearly in the school Christmas Carol Concert. Even long after

And I – like many others, it seems – thought that Dylan was singing about his insect chums in Blowing in the Wind (“The ants are my friends…”). And who can forget the Madonna mondegreen: “Like a Virgin, touched for the third-first time”?

And just so you know, we have a plaster Bear’s head hanging in our kitchen that we call “Gladly” after that old, old Sunday School mondegreen, “Glady my cross-eyed bear” (after “Gladly, my cross I’d bear” from “Keep Thou My Way”).

What’s your favourite?