"Keereezmy"; "Kill his mind"

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As I explained here in February of this year:

One time on an expedition around the western part of the Taklamakan Desert in the center of Asia more than a decade ago, the Chinese driver played Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" scores of times.  He had other discs, but he only played that song, and he played it over and over and over again.  I liked it the first 10-15 times I heard it, but after that it started to drive me insane, and finally I had to tell him to stop. He was not happy.  Then, a few hours later or the next day, he would launch the Lady Gaga "Poker Face" litany all over again.

(slightly modified)

There was one phrase that Lady Gaga repeated more than a dozen times (actually twenty), and I had no idea what she was saying.  I listened as hard as I could, but the best I could make out was "Keereezmy, keereezmy", though sometimes I thought it was "Kill his mind, kill his mind". 

Since that time, I've probably heard the same song another thirty or forty times, and the line in question still sounds like "Keereezmy, keereezmy" or "Kill his mind, kill his mind".

Now that I know how to find lyrics online, last night I decided to put myself out of my mishearing misery, so I looked up the lyrics to "Poker Face" and was gobsmacked to learn that what Lady Gaga was really saying turned out to be "Can't read my, can't read my".  I have no idea how that morphed into "Keereezmy, keereezmy" or "Kill his mind, kill his mind".  I especially cannot understand where the medial sibilant came from, but it was definitely in my head.  Maybe from the dental "d".


Selected readings


  1. Cervantes said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 9:01 am

    Here's a whole list of mondegreens. Knock yourself out.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 9:13 am


    Love it!

    Now I don't feel that it's just me.

  3. Aardvark Cheeselog said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 9:29 am

    I think the most incomprehensible diction of any song I've heard in the last 20 years was Psy's "Gangnam Style," which at one point I was convinced had a chorus ending with "condom star."

  4. Peter Taylor said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 4:00 pm

    I managed to refind this comedy act (Misheard Lyrics: Peter Kay for the benefit of indexers) by searching for the remembered mondegreen "begging you for birdseed". It might be an interesting experiment to see how effective "gaslighting" people in this way is.

  5. JOHN S ROHSENOW said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 4:45 pm

    and another (non-musical) worthy of a 'pullet-surprise',
    "…and lead us not into Penn Station…"
    (Mostly relevant to New Yorkers over a certain age ;-)

  6. Kenny Easwaran said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 4:48 pm

    I always heard that line as "cherry pie, cherry pie".

  7. martin sc hwartz said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 5:08 pm

    If you do a googlesearch of "Beatles knowing she would", you come up
    with multiple entires on Norwegian Wood.

  8. Fritz Newmeyer said,

    October 6, 2023 @ 7:08 pm

    @ John S. Rohsenow

    Don't forget that 'lead us not into Penn Station' follows 'Our father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name'.

  9. Cervantes said,

    October 7, 2023 @ 7:08 am

    My mother told me she heard a hymn as a child phonetically correctly: Gladly, the cross-eyed bear. I wonder if that's technically a mondegreen?

  10. Mark P said,

    October 7, 2023 @ 9:12 am

    I saw a video some place, probably Facebook, in which one person suggested a series of mondegreens for some lyrics and had a couple of other peoeple listen. Each time the different lyrics sounded almost perfectly clear, regardless of what it sounded like the previous time. The psychophysiologial effect must be similar to how dialogue in a tv show goes from completely unintelligible to perfectly clear when subtitles are turned on.

  11. Vance Koven said,

    October 7, 2023 @ 10:28 am

    Gee, they squeezed two mondegreens out of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, but not the one on the title line, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds. That's how I always heard it back in the day.

  12. Dan T. said,

    October 7, 2023 @ 5:14 pm

    The French bit in the Beatles' "Michelle" always sounded to me like "Sunday monkey won't play piano song."

    But I always knew that one was just a fanciful take I made up; however, there are other songs that I went years truly believing in misheard versions of the lyrics, like how I thought "Bette Davis Eyes" said she had "credit cards of standard size", where the true line (which I looked up well into the Internet era, decades after the song came out) has something to do with Greta Garbo (and I still can't recall what the whole line actually is, even after many times of looking it up again).

    I did, however, always understand the Lady Gaga line correctly.

  13. Karl Weber said,

    October 8, 2023 @ 6:14 am

    Picking up on a different theme, Victor's account of the driver who couldn't stop playing "Poker Face" reminds me of the time when I was staying for a couple of weeks in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. I found a small shop around the corner from my guest house where they sold fried snacks that worked well for my lunch. It became my daily hangout around midday, the only downside being the fact that they had Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" on endless loop. Like Victor, I enjoyed the song the first 10 or 15 times, after which it morphed into a nightmare . . .

  14. Adrian Bailey said,

    October 8, 2023 @ 1:49 pm

    Aardvark: "I think the most incomprehensible diction of any song I've heard in the last 20 years was Psy's Gangnam Style."

    Do you mean his Korean is unclear?

  15. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    October 9, 2023 @ 12:37 am

    @Vance: “Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds”

    There is a song based on that exact specific mis-hearing “Judy in Disguise with Glasses”.


  16. Kate Bunting said,

    October 9, 2023 @ 11:26 am

    As a small child I really did think it was "Harold be thy name". I had a toy rabbit called Harold after the then-current comic character Harold Hare. https://britishcomics.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/harold-hare/

  17. Jim said,

    October 10, 2023 @ 3:50 pm

    Cherry pie, cherry pie
    You can't eat my poker face

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