Posts Tagged ‘lyrics’

On Coping with Lyrical Imprecision in the song ♫Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting♫

A Therapeutic Rant Enabling Me to Exorcise My OCD Demons

Sir Stephen Hawking to Carl Douglas: “Surely not everyone was Kung Fu fighting.”

Everybody was? Really? Didn’t Carl “one-hit-wonder” Douglas realize that perhaps somebody, somewhere was not Kung Fu fighting. How about singing the more accurately descriptive “a few people were Kung Fu fighting,” instead of the lazy, fits-all lyrics “everybody was Kung Fu fighting.” I mean if we allow this level of lyrical imprecision to percolate into society, where does it end?

The Rolling Stones lamentably sang ♫I Can’t Get NO Satisfaction♫ – really Mick, None? In England in the mid-60’s. I think everybody knows that Mick was getting at least some satisfaction. Alright, maybe not everybody knows it, but many people do. I don’t want to be accused of the same imprecision by using the word everybody when I should’ve said “a few people.”

Calling out and correcting these overblown and inaccurate claims is the domain of someone who prefers to make our universe as tidy as possible. Someone like me. No, I mean it. Someone like me. No really, I’m pleading with you: Someone like me damn it! See how dangerous the slippery slope of misinterpretation is when you casually employ inexact expressions?

Don’t STOP

It’s bad enough that STOP signs don’t change to GO after we’ve stopped. Those smug octagonal signposts think they can just command us to act and expect us to sheepishly comply. And when we do comply, then what? In the absence of a subsequent instruction I’d like to know what the expectation is. The peremptory command to STOP means just that. I see no interpretive wiggle room to assume that at some point we may GO. However millions do. I’m proud to say I’ve sat at STOP signs for hours waiting for some indication as to what to do after I’ve stopped. Usually an encouraging honk and a few words of encouragement from the exasperated motorist behind me is enough for me to, “Get movin’ assh*le.” Read the rest of this entry »

On Coping with Temporal and Spatial Imprecision in Early American Folk Songs

 

No issue too trivial, no remedy too irrelevant in structuring my universe.

She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes 
She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes
She’ll be coming round the mountain, she’ll be coming round the mountain,
She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes

She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw) 
She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw)
She’ll be riding six white horses, she’ll be riding six white horses,
She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes (Hee Haw)
 

Most of us feel a mystic kinship to Early American folk songs: case in point, the jaunty call and response song She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain. Traditional ditties like these from the Early American songbook convey a sense of unbridled optimism stretching out over a robust country ripe with opportunity. And yet for all its nationalist fervor and manifest destiny the song fairly bristles with an inexcusable lack of time-space coordinates. More specifically, once the listener realizes an unnamed and otherwise phantom “she” will be coming ‘round the mountain, our first reaction is to wonder when she’ll arrive – when will “she” be coming ‘round the mountain? Our reptilian logic centers are primed for processing the precise locus of this event. And despite our anticipatory curiosity, all we are told is that she’ll be coming ‘round that mountain, “When she comes.” I’m afraid this simply will not do. Although I loathe words that have a “b” followed by an “h”, I nonetheless abhor songs whose feel good, sunny lyrics betray an appalling lack of time and place. Read the rest of this entry »