Poetic license suspension

It’s tough duty being a fan of good word usage and classic rock. 

I spent my formative years in front of the radio, appreciating the Great Poets of my time—Elton John, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few.  To this day, the lyrics of the 60s and 70s occupy most of my cranial hard drive, leaving room for little else.

While so many of the classic lyrics are nothing short of pure poetry, there are some that still assault my ears like teeth on a fork.  I am betting you have a few examples of your own.

Now I’m not talking about the obvious no-no’s that give rock music its character.  This may come as a surprise, but I’ve got no beef with “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”  “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” happens to be one of my favorite songs ever.  And a phrase from The Vogues’ “Five O’Clock World” — “livin’ on money I ain’t made yet” — has become my personal tagline.

Further, I have less of a problem with liberties taken to force a meter or a rhyme than I do lyrics that their writers assumed correct, or likely deemed smart-sounding.  If only for their place just under the radar, there is a small sampling of well-known lines that mustn’t in good conscience go unchallenged.

So, at the risk of offending fellow fans of some of the greatest artists of my generation, I must take issue with:

“Touch Me” by the Doors – “til the stars fall from the sky for you and I”

“Heard It in a Love Song” by the Marshall Tucker Band – “I was born a wrangler and a rounder and I guess I always will”

“Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney – “But if this ever-changing world in which we live in…”

I plan to someday write in this forum about lyrics I do find poetic and will ask you to share your favorites, irrespective of the genre.

But for now, what’s your lyrical peeve?

Reminder:  Word Nymph rests on Sunday but welcomes (and reads) your comments.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Music

4 responses to “Poetic license suspension

  1. Alyson

    “You beat me to the punch” with those three.
    I cringe.

  2. Rebekah

    Oh…and I always thought that was the response I received from Bob Dylan when I once confided in him that I had laid down for a nap that afternoon…
    Wow. I’m glad you clarified that…

  3. Paul McCartney’s is perhaps the most disappointing. But the No. 1 most offensive pop lyric and — shudder — song title is Jermaine Jackson’s “Don’t take it personal…”.

  4. Pat Abrams

    How about “Bess, You is my Woman Now”?

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