A factoid is a questionable or spurious (unverified, false or fabricated) statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context. The word is defined by the compact Oxford English Dictionary as "an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact".
Factoid was coined by Norman mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", and created the word by combining the word “fact” and the ending “-oid” to mean "similar but not the same". The Washington Times described Mailer's new word as referring to "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact."
Or, the simpler version:
factoids = fake facts
factlets = trivial facts
The whistling at the end of Otis Redding’s posthumous hit (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay was used by him as a temporary fill. It may fit the nature of the song quite well – the melancholy man sitting on the dock doing nothing except singing and whistling, with sounds of surf and seagulls – but it was an unfinished song with 10 bars of music that Redding would have used for ad libbing some spoken words, as he often did in his songs. With the pressure of time, having to leave for other commitments, he couldn’t think of anything to add so just inserted a whistler filler until he could come back to it. Unfortunately he never did, he was killed 2 days later in 1967 in a plane crash. Steve Cropper (yep, he of the Blues Brothers Band – he and Donald “Duck” Dunn were founder members of Booker T and the MG’s as well), who played the guitar on the track, produced the final version immediately afterwards and it became the largest success of any of Redding’s works.
The Blues Brothers Band (or, more correctly, The Blues Brothers' Show Band and Revue) - Steve Cropper on guitar at left, Donald "Duck" Dunn on guitar in centre
Mick Jagger, 1973
The 1973 hit by the Stones, Angie, was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. There have been various theories and suggestions as to who Angie was: David Bowie’s first wife Angela, the actress Angie Dickinson, or Keith Richards's newborn daughter, Dandelion Angela. Richards, who wrote almost all the music and lyrics for the song, claimed in his autobiography that the name Angie was a pseudonym for heroin, and that the song was about his attempt to quit using it while detoxing in Switzerland. Bowie’s wife Angela said in her autobiography that she once walked in on Jagger and Bowie in bed together. They weren’t doing anything, just together. With no clothes on. Jagger has denied it. Nonetheless the rumour developed that the song was written to appease her.
David Bowie, 1973 tour program
Angela Bowie, with hubby David
The phenomenon of misheard lyrics actually has its own name: they are called mondegreens. American writer Sylvia Wright originated the term in 1954 when she wrote in an article:
When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy’s Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,Oh, where hae ye been?They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual last line was “And laid him on the green.”
One famous mondegreen is from Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded by the Light:
Probably the most misheard lyric of all-time comes from the chorus of the song “Blinded by the Light,” popularized in 1976 by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. We hear: “Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche into the rotor in the night.” Obviously, it’s the use of the word douche that catches everyone’s attention. How does a douche get wrapped up, you wonder, and what’s it doing inside a rotor?
Ah, but here’s the rub. The lyric is actually written: “Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” Believe it or not, Deuce is actually ‘60s slang for a 1932 Ford, or a “deuce coupe,” which explains why it can be revved up and run. Even more unbelievable, however, is the fact that this infamous lyric was actually penned by none other than Bruce Springsteen and performed on his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park. Of course, the Boss probably had a curious reaction the first time he heard his deuce coupe suddenly transformed into a feminine hygiene product.