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Ross Rambles: I can't get any satisfaction

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I've been trying to get through to the Rolling Stones with a suggestion that would do much to reverse the deterioration of the English language.

Unfortunately, my words of wisdom fail to reach those in desperate need of them.

A lamentable disregard of grammar by the people of the English-speaking world can be attributed to the influence of Rock and Roll (or, as the linguistically slothful would say, Rock 'N' Roll).

No song recorded by living artists symbolizes that influence more than the 1965 Rolling Stones hit 'Satisfaction,' which contains the blatant double negative - "I can't get no satisfaction."

I want to convince the lead singer person with the Rolling Stones, a Mick Somebody, to remake this song, using the lyrics - "I can't get any satisfaction."

An older song by Elvis Presley, 'Hound Dog', (actually a remake of an even older blues tune) also had a strong influence on the language, but Elvis is rumored to be dead, so he might not be able to replace the substandard lyrics - "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog" with the much better lyrics - "You aren't anything other than a hound dog."

Modern recording artists, as well as classic rockers, display their share of linguistic errors, such as in the song, 'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol. The song contains the lyrics, "If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me?"

The verb 'lie' is used correctly, but the verb 'lay' is incorrect unless the song is from the perspective of a hen producing eggs. The lyrics should be, "If I lie here, if I just lie here, would you lie with me?"

Some of the errors are subtle such as in the Helen Reddy Rock and Roll song -- 'You and Me Against the World', which should be titled, 'You and I Against the World".

On a side note, the term Rock and Roll is used loosely regarding that song, which is a slow-paced ballad, but Helen Reddy is regarded as a Rock and Roll performer so what she sings is Rock and Roll, much the way anything by Kiss is Rock and Roll, including the slow-paced 'Beth,' containing the lyrics, "Me and the boys will be playing all night." This should, of course, be, "The boys and I will be playing all night."

Now wouldn't Bo Diddley's 'Who Do You Love?' sound much better as, 'Whom do you love?'

A line in Bob Dylan's, 'It Ain't Me, Babe' contains three grammatical errors. The line, "It ain't me you're lookin' for, Babe" has the substandard contraction "ain't" and an improperly declined pronoun. A pronoun following a form of the verb 'to be' (am, are, is etc,) remains in the subject form rather than the object form. Also, a preposition should be followed by an object in most situations.

If Mr. Dylan hopes to have a successful singing career, he should remake his song using the lyrics, "It is not I for whom you are looking, Babe."

However, both Mr. Dylan and Mick Something or Other seem to feel my advice is unneeded.