Date: Fri, 18 Nov 1994 13:42:04 EST
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: song lyrics
In connection with "Someday Soon": I'd always heard Judy Collins as singing
"'cause he rides the rodeo", which of course makes more sense than
"...hides..." Are you sure she doesn't have an r- there? If not, maybe it's
a slip of the tongue, recorded though it may be. Similarly, I always assumed
it was 'he was just as wild in the/his younger days' (you must be right about
the article, although I have no idea why it would appear there given both
semantic and metrical considerations). If it's really more like 'he's just as
wild' (or just a wild? I never heard it that way) I'm sure that one would be
attributed to metrical constraints. Might there not be a mini-schwa in there,
in fact? A closer listen would be needed to confirm it, but my guess is that
she sings something like "heIs just as wild", where I is a schwa--forced
reduction but not a full contraction. As for the locus, I guess all we know is
that it's in rodeo country, it's not California, and it's not southern
Colorado (identfied in the second line of the song as the provenance of the
young man in question). But as indicated I'm not sure that any of the above
are true dialect traits, except POSSIBLY the 'in the younger days', which I
think is more likely an idiosyncrasy on Judy Collins's part, or that of the
song-writer (can't remember who that was).
As far as recorded misparses go, though, I've always liked the Joan Baez
recording of The Band's The Day They Drove Old Dixie Down, where she sings
something like "Till so much cavalry came up the tracks again" (not sure about
the VP), when it's clear from The Band's own recording that the line was "Till
Stonewall's cavalry came up..." I guess Joan Baez didn't have an entry in her
mental lexicon for Stonewall Jackson.
And my favorite meter-induced agrammatism is one from an old Mamas & Papas
I saw him again last night,
You know that I shouldn't
just string him along, it's just not right.
If I couldn't, I wouldn't.
which MUST (but CAN'T, in my idiolect or anyone else's I've checked) mean "If
I could [not string him along]". This is the only place in the entire corpus
of English I know of in which 'couldn't' means could-not (possible not) rather
than not-could (not possible). A moment of silence now for Cass Elliot...