Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I write the songs that make grammarians cry

Cover your ears at 18 seconds. 

There are lots of songs with dodgy grammar. 

However, there are some that, in the parlance of Canadian comic Derek Edwards, make you want to pull your car over and smash your head through the windshield. 

For me, these songs fall into two categories:
  • The artist who should know better
  • The artist who doesn't know better.
I enjoy many of these songs immensely - but they all leave me with a nagging feeling that something needs changing. And maybe, just maybe, if we start fixing them now, we can solve the world's grammar problems by the time the Peter O'Toole robot awakes the Prometheus crew.

1. Prepositionally challenged

"But if this ever-changing world in which we live in makes you give it a cry..."
Paul McCartney, Live and Let Die
Prescription: Consider breaking this sentence into two, Sir Paul, and try to keep your prepositions to 15 per sentence.

"I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to."
Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man
Prescription: Don't end a sentence with "to."

"Must of got lost somewhere down the line."
J. Geils Band, Must of Got Lost
Prescription: Replace "of" with "have."

2. Time for a rewrite

"Su-su-ssudio."
Phil Collins, Sussudio
Prescription: When you find me a girl actually named Sussudio, then I won't have a problem with this song.

"And my funky tunk keep on walkin'."
Moby Grape, Funky Tunk
Prescription: Get that funky tunk surgically removed.

"Louie Louie - oh no. Me gotta go. Aye-yi-yi-yi."
The Kingsmen, Louie Louie
Prescription: Don't put marbles in your mouth. And sit up straight.

3. Were vs. was

"Long time ago when we was fab."
George Harrison, When We Was Fab
Prescription: Were, not was. Hey that could be a band name!

"I wish I was special."
Radiohead, Creep
Prescription: There's much disagreement about this one, even among grammarians. I do believe that if you wish or describe something that is contrary to fact, you say "were." Either way, the song is about being a creep, so I have to give this one a pass on a technicality.

4. Double negatives

"We don't need no education."
Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall, Part II

"I never said nothing."
Liz Phair, Never Said

"I can't get no satisfaction."
Rolling Stones, Satisfaction

Prescription: If you're being ironic, this is great. If you're not being ironic, you're saying the opposite of what you mean.

5. Do versus does versus don't versus doesn't.

"Every little thing she do just turn me on."
The Police, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Prescription: "Does."

"She's got a ticket to ride, but she don't care."
The Beatles, Ticket to Ride
Prescription: "Doesn't." 

6. Not-so-fresh rhymes

"Hey mighty brontosaurus/Don't you have a lesson for us?"
The Police, Walking in Your Footsteps

"The words of the prophets were written on the studio wall/Concert hall!"
Rush, Spirit of Radio

"I got this Stella I bombed from that last cafe/This night's not even begun - yes yes oh yay."
The Streets, Fit But You Know it

Prescription: Stop being irritating.

***

What are your favorite least-favorite grammatically questionable lyrics and why?

1 comment:

  1. Famous song by Crystal Gayle

    "And don't it make my brown eyes blue" The song is still beautiful...

    ReplyDelete