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Mondegreen Lyricsby Dick Bowden

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Mondegreen Lyrics – A Bluegrass Trivia Contest

by Dick Bowden

“Mondegreens” are mis-heard lyrics that often become more widely known than the original song lyrics. For instance “ ’scuse me while I kiss this guy” in the rock song “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. (Correct lyrics “ ’scuse me while I kiss the sky”.)

Sadly, bluegrass music has a several songs where the original recording has very clear, understandable and sensible lyrics – but years of performers and jammers singing mis-heard lyrics have stamped the “wrong” words, or mondegreens, into most folks’ memories.

One that really grates on me is the Flatt & Scruggs absolute CLASSIC “Blue Ridge Cabin Home”. Even Tony Rice with the Bluegrass Album Band sang “When I die won’t you bury me ON the mountain”, although Lester Flatt clearly wrote and sang “When I die won’t you bury me IN the mountains”. I suppose to many this isn’t a big deal, but how much effort does it take to find out the correct lyrics and learn to sing them (and teach them to others)?

Today’s trivia involves another common bluegrass mondegreen. One of Bill Monroe’s most popular uptempo numbers, done by top performers and jammers everywhere is “On My Way Back to the Old Home”. The opening line goes “Back in the days of my childhood, in the evening when everything was still…” In the last line of the chorus, it has become common to sing a mondegreen – incorrect lyrics.

In your answer, feel free to go even further and list another bluegrass mondegreen as an example. As a tie breaker!

The winner will get to stand up in front of the next gathering of the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association and sing all 43 verses of Barbara Allen, correctly.


Which of these two last lines is CORRECT?

A. But there’s no light in the window, that shined on the road where I lived

B. But there’s no light in the window, that shined long ago where I lived


Answers due by noon on Thursday preceding the publication of the HVBA newsletter. The answer and winner(s) will appear here after contest is closed.


  • Trivia Contest ends at noon on the Thursday before publication of newsletter.
  • Answers will appear in the Comment Section when contest is closed on Thursday.
  • A new question will be posted on our website on the Friday morning of the newsletter's publication.
  • Certificates will be awarded to everyone with the correct answer.
  • Participants are allowed to post their own questions to Dick Bowden with the hope of stumping him. Maybe that would deserve another prize.

Ed. Note: Check back to read any added details that have been posted by Dick Bowden. Well worth your time.

The HVBA hosts two monthly jam sessions!

Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park
42 River Road
Highland, NY 12528

Held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

All of our jam sessions feature the Slow Jam, which happens during the first 30 minutes. From 6:30 to 7:00, we invite you to play at a sane pace in a supportive, non-competitive environment. The regular jam begins at 7:00 and all level players are welcome for the entire evening.

For info, call Lynn at 914.456.1981

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