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Monday, March 16, 2009

Poll Results 27

Here was the question:

Do you think it’s OK for songwriters to sacrifice grammar so they can have a good rhyme?
Yes. They’re songwriters, not grammarians. 34 (58%)
No. Songwriters are a bit like poets and should know good grammar. 24 (41%)

I'm surprised so many of you are so forgiving! I'm not!


John Mayson said...

I can think of so many songs ranging from Kiss to Bryan Adams to Eric Clapton to Bruce Springsteen that have glaring grammatical errors and it's like fingernail raking across a blackboard whenever I hear those songs.

This can't be normal. :-)

The Smarch said...

Actually, the strict-constructionists surprise me! Music, like poetry and painting, is an art. Art doesn't necessarily follow the rules. No one would fault Monet for the lack of hyper-realism in his paintings. So I am disinclined to fault Jimmy Buffet for

I blew out my flip flop,
Stepped on a pop top;
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.

I suspect that not many technical writers are lyricists!


Jennifer said...

While I agree that songwriting is art and should be allowed some freedom, I'm convinced that there is still a lot of freedom and flexibility within our language to find a way to express the thoughts and emotions you want to convey without stepping on grammatical toes.

In the example given by The Smarch in the comment above, I don't see the grammatical error. (Did I just admit that?) What I see is creative use of vocabulary and maybe a misplaced punctuation mark. I'd give those lyrics a pass: they're effective. But songs that use standard english incorrectly drive me absolutely nuts.

(I've never posted about grammar before; you should have seen the number of times I previewed this comment before posting it!)

Anonymous said...

Leiber and Stoller knew more than 50 years ago that good grammar can make for boring songs. Big Mama Thornton’s recording of "Hound Dog" would fizzle without the grammatical errors -- just as Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "We Real Cool" would lose its impact if corrected. There are plenty of instances of bad grammar serving no useful purpose in songs, but there are plenty of songs that would die a slow death if edited by 41% of you!