A Word About Boston Globe’s ‘The Word’ Column

Boston Globe The Word columnist Erin McKean (who also writes for the Wall Street Journal) had a typically smart piece this past Sunday:

The horror of ungrammatical lyrics

Do language errors in popular songs make you shudder? You’re not alone.

Among McKean’s observations:

A stranger misfire is when songwriters put in an extra preposition. That’s the issue in John Mellencamp’s “Small Town,” in which he sang “I cannot forget from where it is that I come from.” Maybe if you’re lucky, you missed hearing what’s commonly considered one of the “worst Christmas songs of all time” these past few weeks, Andy Williams’s “Happy Holidays/It’s the Holiday Season,” which includes the line: “he’ll be comin’ down the chimney down!”

But – all due respect – McKean missed the best example of all: Paul McCartney’s lyrics from “Live and Let Die”:

But if this ever changing world in which we live in/Makes you give in and cry/Say live and let die

Live and let cry, eh?

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5 Responses to A Word About Boston Globe’s ‘The Word’ Column

  1. I can’t listen to Lesley Gore’s “She’s a Fool”: “She’s a fool, she’s a fool, she has his love, but treats him cruel,” without adding the “ly,” but long ago decided that therapy wouldn’t help.

  2. Mr Punch says:

    The really annoying thing about “Live and Let Die” is that “in this ever-changing in which we’re livin'” would scan just as well – might even be easier to sing. It’s been driving me crazy for almost forty years.

  3. Doesn’t the Poet’s License protect struggling lyricists from wanton attacks like this?

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