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Merrimack Valley

December 15, 2013

Six geezers laying? Bring on the holiday song botches

Milk and spiders? Nine lazy Hansons? Sleep in heavenly peas?

It’s that time of year: holiday music time. And with holiday music comes all the strange and twisted things we sometimes think we’re hearing.

Mondegreens, the moniker for misheard words in song, aren’t restricted to holiday standards, of course, but the old-timey language of some seems to serve as a botched-lyric magnet.

Lest you think funny turns on song lyrics are the stuff of childhoods, Missy O’Reilly knows otherwise. She’s an actress, comedian and co-owner of Planet Rose, a karaoke haven on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

“I’m the biggest Christmas nerd, so I’m always encouraging people to sing Christmas music,” she said. “Some people are really surprised when they see what the real words are.”

Look no further than Snopes.com for handy examples submitted by readers of the website that collects and debunks urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors and misinformation. Noting that mondegreens aren’t parody, but words we actually think we’re listening to, Snopes keeps a list of holiday gems.

For “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” there’s “Ten lawyers leaving” and “Nine lazy Hansons.” Later we’ve got “Six geezers laying,” along with “a paltry tin-affair tree.” Those are in lieu of lords a-leaping, ladies dancing, geese a-laying and the obligatory partridge in a pear tree, fyi.

If ever you’ve made it to the fourth verse of “Winter Wonderland,” you’ll be relieved to know it doesn’t include “Later on milk and spiders, as we dream by the fire,” but rather: “Later on we’ll conspire ...” And that snowman you may or may not build in the meadow? You should pretend he’s “Parson Brown,” not “sparse and brown,” or “parched and brown.” Just sayin’.

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