While reading Cook’s second chapter on words and music, I was interrupted by a fellow passenger (which happens a lot) who was interested in what I was reading. As I gave them the short version of the "Words, words, words", they brought up songs they knew, in which they misheard the lyrics and it completely changed the songs meaning. There is so much more that goes into the experience of listening to music, and words are only a part of it. Something as external as “what did I do today” can influence how we respond to what we hear.
Cook says that the moment we try to isolate the purely musical, we are “forced into the realm of metaphor”. I certainly notice that the first connections I make when I hear a new piece is the imagery the music makes me feel. I have to wonder if television is to blame. As a child of educational program, I have always had a visual element in the learning experience, and visuals are a powerful educational tool. Is it so surprising that, when listening to music, the first thing that pops into my brain is an image?
Maybe I just watched too much Loony Tunes.
On the subject of misheard lyrics, this might make you chuckle warmly. It is a comfort to know that many people impose their own meaning on music to the point where it changes what they hear.