Friday, September 12, 2008


Musicians are not all known to be good speakers of English. But musicians whose language is English, and whose primary audience are English speakers are at least expected to have some mastery of the language. My opinion. And I am fairly sure that everyone would consider Pop icon Michael Jackson a native speaker of the language. How then did the following from his pen get past the scritiny of his many editors and producers into a top hit track?

from I'll Be There

If you should ever find someone new

I know he'd better be good to you

But if he doesn't...

(then) I'll be there


My emphasis is on that third line. Look at it again. If he doesn't do what? Elementary grammar shows that verb inconsistent with the preceding "He'd better be good to you", and the most correct alternative would have been "...but if he isn't...", which means "if he isn't good to you, I'll be there."

But I guess it may not make much musical sense now. After all, we're talking about the King of Pop. Perhaps we could write it off as an innocent dialectal variant of American English, if that would sell.

Never mind that it was he as well who wrote the #1 hit single "We are the World" in which the following was also written:

from stanza 2. Note the emphasis, mine

As God has shown us by turning stone to bread

And so we all must lend a helping hand

God of course never turned stone to bread. At least not in any written scripture I know. The closest was when Jesus was tempted by the devil. He was teased to turn stones to bread so as to ease his hunger from fasting. In another instance, Jesus himself multiplied some loaves of bread to feed a multitude. The only thing he turned, I think, was water - into wine. So where did Michael and Lionel Richie get their "stone to bread" from? We could find more of such examples if we tried to pay more attention to the lyrics of the songs we hear.

But don't mind me, I sometimes let my critical faculty dwarf my appreciation of an otherwise beautiful work of art.


Anonymous said...

It seems Maria speaks the same language.

Nice to see you back! :-)

Mak said...

Finicky you yes. It's true artists most times dont mind the quality of work they put out; I do identify with that. sometimes an art work is perfet with its imperfections. Sometimes as long as the message is sent accross, and message is recieved upcoming artists like me, have no such mistakes to learn from.

Mak said...

And gwatala, do forgive me spelling.