For 46 years now, Bruce Springsteen fans have disagreed over whether the opening lyric to 1975’s “Thunder Road” is “The screen door slams/ Mary’s dress sways” or “The screen door slams/ Mary’s dress waves.”
On Springsteen’s official website and songbook, the word is “waves,” but as many have pointed out over the years, this doesn’t make much sense. (“Sways” rhymes better with “plays” than “waves,” and dresses don’t “wave in the wind,” they “sway in the wind.”) Either way, up until this point, the official record has mostly indicated that the dress waves. It would take nothing short of a thunderstorm to shake up the Springsteen status quo.
Enter the Internet. After the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman tweeted a picture of an empty “Springsteen on Broadway” stage with the caption “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways,” the decades-long debate moved online and erupted into chaos. With renewed passion, Twitter quickly broke into “sways” and “waves” camps, fiercely defending their respective lyric.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Internet has gone to war over a dress. But unlike the infamous black-and-blue, white-and-gold striped dress debate from 2015, this conflict has a definitive resolution. On July 17th, The New Yorker reported that they had reached out by email to The Boss’ longtime collaborator and manager Jon Landau. Landau confirmed that the lyrics are in fact “Mary’s dress sways,” as originally written and performed by Springsteen.
Though the “Thunder Road” mystery has finally been solved, this case of lyrical misapprehension is far from an isolated incident. People mishear lyrics all the time, often to hilarious effect — so we’ve rounded up 18 of the funniest and most commonly misheard song lyrics ever.
Check them out below.