Like the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, I’ve had a little bit of free time recently, so I thought I’d hang around the house and listen to old Led Zeppelin records while drinking scotch. After some deep thinking, it occurs to me that I might pay back my debt to society (don’t ask) by rewriting some of the badly mangled grammar in the western world’s popular songbook. I’m talking about some real hatchet jobs that many of our finest musicians have performed on the English language. For example, this inexplicably uncorrected nugget from Bob Dylan’s recording “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”:
Well, it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road
You'd think the song's publishers might have paid a few extra bucks to hire a copy editor, or at the very least a proofreader, who might have suggested the following improved version:
Well there’s no reason to be turnin' on your light, babe
That light I never knew
An' there’s no reason to be turnin’ on your light, babe
'Cause you haven't got a clue.
Amy Winehouse was another musician who an awful time with grammar. Did you ever hear the lyrics to “Rehab”?: My God!
I can't got the time
And if my Daddy thinks I'm fine
"I can’t got the time" is such a badly constructed phrase that one doesn't even know where to begin correcting it. My team of lyrics improvers has suggested we throw out the lyrics in their entirety so we can start all over again. (And, by the way, this isn't Amy’s second language!)
I plan on turning my rewriting of popular lyrics into a book, and when I do please don’t ask me for my autograph. Because I really can't got the time time. Thanks.