Friday, March 9, 2012

Hear Ye

I’ve always had better than average hearing (as demonstrated by childhood testing) that (maybe somewhat) made up for vision that required eye glasses since the third grade. But sometimes I fear that aging may be taking its toll on even my modest auditory advantage.

Last Sunday morning I entered our church’s lobby (“narthex” in church-speak) when the first service crowd as still milling about and gabbing loudly over coffee and tea and the second service crowd was just arriving and making their way into the sanctuary. In our small lobby area even a couple dozen folks talking produces somewhat of a blended din where individual conversations become mashed into a big hum (some might say uncharitably, “racket”).

Through the open sanctuary doors I could see, and somewhat hear, the worship team practicing one of the semi-contemporary pieces for the second service. But filtered through the din of the lobby conversations I couldn’t make out what they were singing, only that they were in fact singing, and playing instruments. There were some bass tones coming through and somehow to me they sounded like the worship band was playing “Louie, Louie.” But when I got into the sanctuary, it was obvious a familiar worship song. No Louie-Louie. Which was OK by me.

But I am developing a post on mis-hearing based on my many years of business travel through airports with their tinny PA systems. I jotted down notes all those years. And while the TSA thought I was observing security systems and plotting to attack the obnoxious attendants at the Starbucks kiosk, I really was just pondering listening vs. hearing. Really.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Misheard lyrics are called "mondegreens" from the misheard line:
They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual line is "And laid him on the green".

It's a fascinating study, actually, as the phenomenon raises interesting questions about neurology and meaning.

See also "The Man in the Rorschach Shirt," by Ray Bradbury

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I have seen several books in the music section of large bookstores on the theme of misheard music lines. Jimi Hendrix: "'Cuze me while I kiss this guy" instead of "kiss the sky" is a classic. Or Johnny Rivers' "Secret Asian Man" insteasd of "Secret Agent Man." It doesn't help that pop and rock singers are prone to mumbling anyway.