Tag Archives: song lyrics

Isn’t it ironic?

I take this opportunity tonight to express my distaste for Alanis Morissette.

I take this opportunity tonight because my husband isn’t here to argue with me about it. He’s at an Alanis Morissette concert.

I didn’t go because doing so would have hurt my ears.

I’m not calling Alanis Morissette a bad musician. She might very well call me a bad writer. It’s simply a matter of taste.

Or science.

The human ear is sensitive to different kinds of sound. In some ways, my ear is sensitive as a dog’s ear is sensitive. I hear high pitched sounds many humans don’t.

Alanis Morissette’s whiny voice gives me goosebumps – and not the good kind.

Her lyrics are similarly annoying. Take one of her early hits, Ironic. Her examples of irony include “like rain on your wedding day” and “a black fly in your Chardonnay.” Alanis, honey, look it up.

Obviously, my husband and I have different tastes. Whereas I go for the deeper, richer, often whiskey-soaked alto vocals of Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Carole King (as well as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, singers with wide vocal ranges who are lauded for their ability to go low beautifully), he likes the voices that pierce my ears – Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Charlotte Church, Nanci Griffith and, don’t hate me, Joni Mitchell.

In other words, he has a high tolerance for high-pitched whining–which, come to think of it,  might just explain nearly 27 years of marriage.

Ironic? Not really.

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Bieber peever

Dear Justin,

I love ya, kiddo. You have a sweet smile. Your music is catchy enough. You’re tight with your mama.

Since you first made the scene, your mother has been right by your side. I’ve read that she took over your schooling when you were on the road. I admire that. But you’re eighteen now. It’s time you took responsibility for your education.

I was encouraged to hear you tell the ladies on The View that you looked forward to continuing to mature and learn. You seem to be a grounded, smart, reasonably articulate young man and, quite likely, you have plenty of smart, articulate people working for you.

Here’s the thing.

It’s your new hit single, “Boyfriend.” You know, don’t you, dear, that “If I was your boyfriend” is incorrect? Not incorrect in the musically acceptable ain’t-got-no way. Incorrect in the it-sounds-right-to-me-and-anyhow-that’s-what-everybody-says way. I’m disappointed that your mother, your fellow songwriters, producers, agents and marketeers didn’t advise you to change one simple word, just to make you sound like the smart young man you probably are.

Justin, in case your lessons skipped over the subjunctive mood, or you missed my blog post on the topic, it’s not “If I was your boyfriend.” It’s “If I were…” As in “If I Were a Rich Man.” That one ought to be easy for you to remember.

When your ditty, now #11 on the Top 40 charts, comes on the radio, I change the station. When Jazzercise plays it during my leg routine, I burn extra calories by fuming over the horrid grammar.

If I were your mother, I’d take a red pen to your little opus. Okay, I’d be willing to overlook all of your colloquialisms. I’d even let you rhyme “go” with “before.” But I’d ask you set a good example for your young fans and get the big stuff right:

“Boyfriend”
Written by Mike Posner, Matthew Musto, Mason Levy (edited by the Word Nymph)

If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go
I can take you places you ain’t never been before
Baby take a chance or you’ll never ever know
Ive got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow
 Swag swag swag, on you
Chillin’ by the fire why while were eatin’ fondue
I dunno about me but I know about you
So say hello to falsetto in three two

I’d like to be everything you want
Hey girl, let me talk to you

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl, you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, I’d never let you go

Tell me what you like yeah tell me what you don’t
I could be your Buzz Lightyear flying across the globe
I don’t never wanna fight yeah, you already know
I‘ma make you shine brightly like you’re laying lying in the snow
Girlfriend, girlfriend, you could be my girlfriend
You could be my girlfriend until the —- world ends
Make you dance do a spin and a twirl and
Voice goin’ crazy on this hook like a whirlwind

I’d like to be everything you want
Hey girl, let me talk to you

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, I’d never let you go

[Bridge]
So give me a chance, ‘cause you’re all I need girl
 Spend a week wit your boy I’ll be calling you my girlfriend
If I was were your man, I’d never leave you girl
I just want to love you, and treat you right

[Chorus]
If I was were your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was were your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, never let you go

Na na na, na na na, na na na
Ya girl
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey
 Na na na, na na na, na na na ey

If I was were your boyfriend

What?! Your mama didn’t teach you lie versus lay?

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Gavotte words?

Do you ever think about—really think about—where we get our vocabulary words?

They come from an endless variety of places. There are the ones we were forced to learn in school, the ones we read in books and looked up, the ones we heard smart people use and adopted as our own. There are the ones our parents wrote on cards and made us study in the small room of the house.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still collecting vocabulary words. From time to time I spotlight my favorite ones in this space. Right next to the song lyrics.

Only recently have I thought about the words I learned in my adolescent years as a radio junkie. One day last week, while in the car, I remembered the first time I ever heard the word invincible. I wonder if you learned it from the same source.

If you’re about my age, and you grew up listening to Top 40 hits of the 60s and 70s, you too might have learned invincible from Helen Reddy. “I am strong, I am invincible, I am wom-a-a-a-n.”

I’m making an effort now to listen more closely and nostalgically to the oldies so I can build the list.

I had never heard of a funeral pyre until 1967, when The Doors sang, “and our love become a funeral pyre,” which I confess I thought was funeral parlor; it makes about as much sense, not to mention the lack of subject-verb agreement. Leon Russell came along in 1972 with “I’m up on a tight wire, flanked by life and the funeral pyre.”  I still didn’t know what a pyre was but I liked the song and, looking back, it’s pretty darn poetic.

Let’s skip over pompatus, because it’s been overdone and everyone knows pompatus isn’t really a word. Next?

Again in 1972, I learned a word that I couldn’t imagine ever using, but it caught my attention when Carly Simon sang, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.” I think I did try to look up gavotte as a curious 12-year-old, and have been looking for the right opportunity to use it ever since. It was also in  “You’re So Vain” that I first heard of Saratoga.

In 1973, I first heard the word espionage. Anyone remember where? It’s obscure, I know. “He’s a mastermind in the ways of espionage.” All these years later, I still know all the words  to “Uneasy Rider” by Charlie Daniels (from which I also first heard of John Birch and Mario Andretti).

I know there are more. Can we keep this going?

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Year of the Nymph

On March 31, 2010, I wrote my first blog post, questioning the value of blogs. My premise was that no one wants to read anyone else’s innermost thoughts—and blogging seemed to be the place where innermost feelings become outermost feelings. But I went ahead and started Word Nymph anyway.

My one-year anniversary post isn’t going to be anything spectacular, so if you’re reading this blog for the first time today, please dig deeper into the archives before you form a first impression.

If you’re among the small but potent community of regular readers and commenters, thank you. Thank you for your faithfulness, even on days when your basket is brimming with reading matter. Thank you also to the four or five people who advised me in the beginning of this undertaking. And thank you to my husband, who kisses me good night as I sit in the late hours staring at a blank screen and panicking about what I will write about the next day. Three hundred nine times, so far.

Over the course of the year, I’ve heard from people that they want more personal stories of my childhood or of the careless foibles of my adulthood. Others believe I should stick to my knitting; one reader said he was going to unsubscribe because I wasn’t doing enough on language and grammar. At times I’ve wondered how I might satisfy everyone in this regard. But, as Ricky Nelson once sang, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

Some readers tell me they can’t keep up with my six-days-a-week schedule,  that they get behind and struggle to catch up. I don’t want people feeling like they’re drinking from a fire hose, so maybe I should slow down, pace myself so I don’t run out of ideas, or worse, generate forced content for the sake of adhering to a self-imposed schedule. On the other hand, some readers call me when I’ve posted late or missed a day, wondering where their Word Nymph is.

As I struggled with these questions, a friend and supporter sent me a link to another blogger’s ideas. These very usefully address my very conundrums. If you’re contemplating starting a blog yourself, or if you’d like to join me in contemplating Word Nymph’s future, you’ll find these thought-provoking—and a good read all around.

I know one thing for certain. Your comments–good or bad, serious or funny–are what make it worth the effort.

That’s it for today. Still thinking about the future. I welcome your ideas.

Thanks again for reading. Must find cake.

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Slang dunk

Here’s a little quiz. In Paul Simon’s song, is “Me and Julio down by the school yard” grammatically correct? The answer: It depends.

This isn’t a post about song lyrics peppered with poor grammar; we’ve already covered that. But let’s take a lesson from me and Julio.

It’s frustrating for us wordies to stand by and witness blatantly bad grammar sliding by as accepted slang. Where are the authorities?

Many parents have given up on correcting children who say “Me and Brittany are going to the mall.” No one is around to apprehend young adults, having graduated from prestigious universities, who say “Me and Justin went out last night.” It seems a lost cause, gone the way of “where are you at?”

That’s because such horrendous violations have gone colloquial. They’re trendy. They’re socially accepted. Some may think they’re cute, but they’re wrong and no one’s doing anything about it.

Assuming anyone cared enough to take this on as a cause, there’s one caution–let’s be careful not to allow history to repeat itself. Many of us learned long ago that “me and [anyone]” is wrong. The truth is that it’s wrong only half of the time. The problem is that some people who took this lesson literally as children are now committing an equally egregious violation as adults. Just as “Me and Brittany went to the mall” is incorrect, so is “She sent the invitation to John and I.” (“Me” is the object and “I” is the subject; it’s that easy.)

I’d like to issue three simple pleas to parents: One, don’t let your babies of whatever age get away with beginning a sentence with “Me and…” Two, don’t let your babies believe that “me” is inherently bad. Three, take the time to teach your children the difference between subjective (or nominative) and objective pronouns. I’d rather hear a kid say, “My Mom took me and Brittany to the mall” (which is technically correct) than “My Mom took Brittany and I to the mall,” which is not.

Still confused? That’s okay. Here’s a place to start if you need a primer. 

Just between you and me, in the context of the song, I think “me and Julio” is correct. We’ll discuss why in the comments, if need be.

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Three-quarters of a year in review

As another year draws to a close, we see psychology and behavior experts appearing in great numbers on the news and talk shows to advise us on our New Year’s resolutions.

On the last day of 2009, one example seemed a little odd amongst the goals of losing weight, finding a job, getting out of debt and repairing relationships. One particular expert said, “for example, if your New Year’s resolution is starting a blog, . . .” I recall thinking, that’s odd. Who would start a blog as a New Year’s resolution?

I suppose the idea percolated within my mind for a month or two, because around the end of February, I started thinking more about it. I launched this one on March 30th and today marks my 233rd blog post of 2010.

After I first had the idea, it took me a while to settle on subject matter. I envisioned a quirky blend of Erma Bombeck and William Safire, who probably were never in the same room together, nor had much in common while they were alive. I tried to define themes within the About Word Nymph page, which still lacks proper cohesion. When people ask me what my blog is about, I tell them it is about language and life. I should probably squeeze that into a tagline somewhere.

If you are new here and are trying to figure out what this place is about, try going to that sidebar over on the right, and searching Topics. Perhaps you like the posts having to do with language but have no use for stories of the blogger’s life stories, or vice versa. If you’re a wordie, look under “All Things Wordish” and read my spin on pleonasms, mondegreens, portmanteaus, bdelygmias, oronyms, toponyms and absolute adjectives, or my gripes about malapropisms, mispronounced words and misunderstood song lyrics. If you want to read about my clumsiness and stupidity, “Foibles and Faux Pas” is for you.

If you are just now stumbling on to Word Nymph, might I suggest starting with a few of my favorites:

On Language:

Not very nice
Not a mute point
Let’s talk for a moment about momentarily
Did you want to ask me that again?
The ants are my friends
Repeat redundancy

 On Life:

Blink and you’ll miss it
Golden Girls
Woof it down
Joined at the unbelted waist
The other woman
Not the end of the world

Crossovers:

Fashion nonsense
Little old lady who?
Justice I am, without one plea
Character study

My personal jury (composed of 12 of my personalities) is still out as to whether Word Nymph was the wisest project for 2010. I will say, however, that the best part by far has been the interaction I enjoy with readers. So, please, everyone, keep your comments, compliments and criticisms coming.

May you wake up tomorrow feeling well and inspired to take on something worthwhile in the New Year.

Cheers.

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High on music

When I started this blog, I set out to share periodically words of the good writers, including song writers.

Yesterday I heard an old favorite on the radio and, as I was alone in a well sealed car, I sang loudly along.

John Denver wasn’t among my favorite artists growing up–I don’t think he was much of a singer–but I have always admired him as a song writer. There are a few of his songs I’m not particularly fond of, but there are many more that are outstanding and have endured over the decades.

I do miss the guy. I wonder, if he hadn’t died so young, what inspiring works he might have created as he matured.

My favorite John Denver song is “Rocky Mountain High.” I can’t say why exactly, as I’m not as moved by the outdoors as many people are. I’ve seen the Rockies and they’re lovely. But it’s just not my scene. Either way, musically and poetically, it’s a beautiful song.

“Rocky Mountain High” came out about the time my good friend Cathy moved to Boulder. Cathy would be the first of us to see the Rockies, while the rest of us knew about them only from the song.

Each time I hear it, I hear something new in the lyrics. There was some controversy when the song first came out and the FCC tried to have it banned from the air for its possible drug reference. It has been written that Denver explained publicly—including in congressional hearings—that the “high” was simply the sense of peace he found in this mountain setting.

No matter, Denver can paint a picture with simple words and phrases that are easy to sing along to. I am a terrible singer, but don’t hold back in the car. Yesterday I was thrilled, after months of effort to heal my lungs, to be able to hold those long notes as long as John Denver did, even though I know I sounded awful. That’s the beauty of a Bose nine-speaker sound system that can drown out its owner.

Here, you try it. This isn’t the best version vocally, but the only other clip I found omitted my two favorite verses.

Rocky Mountain High
Words by John Denver; Music by John Denver and Mike Taylor

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin’ home to a place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

When he first came to the mountains his life was far away
On the road and hangin’ by a song
But the string’s already broken and he doesn’t really care
It keeps changin’ fast and it don’t last for long

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby
Rocky mountain high

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend but kept his memory

Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high

Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear
Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
More people, more scars upon the land

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high

It’s Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high
Rocky mountain high

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