Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lay Down Sally

It is not unusual for the English language to be abused in song lyrics, usually to maintain a rhyme scheme ("you and I" in Bryan Adams' "Run To You") or rhythm ("E-gyp-ti-an" in The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian"). Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally" doesn't seem to have a reason for its linguistic abuse. Try it: sing "lie down" instead of "lay down". Fits just as well.

The two phrases mean different things, though. Not in the cosmic "Dust in the Wind" sense of meaning. Dude. The more mundane sense of how a person who speaks English interprets the particular vocalization "lay down".

"Lay down" is a command to put down something being carried or held. I can't help but having visions of King Kong scaling up the Empire State Building, hapless Sally clutched in his fist. Eric stands on the sidewalk, musically imploring Kong to "lay down Sally" - put her down.

But the intention of the song is to invite Sally to have a lie-down, you might say. I know that. I take that intent into account. I don't really think the song is about King Kong.

What Eric meant to say trumps what he actually says. "Decoding" the lyrics is dependant on intent.

4 comments:

Kenny Scott said...

What's wrong with "you and I"?

Whether you say you and I or you and me in co-ordinate phrases depends on whether they function as subjects or objects in the sentence.

Dave said...

In the song it is in a prepositional clause headed by 'about', and the clause is the direct object of the sentence. So in context it is 'if she ever found out about you and I'. Should be 'you and me', but is 'you and I' so that it rhymes with 'die'.

Jason said...

You two have a lot of time on your hands.....


Hehehehe....

Just kidding...

Kind of....


Jason

Kenny Scott said...

Ah, yes I understand what you're getting at, Dave. To be honest, I don't know the song, I was thinking you were commenting on "you and I" not being correct grammar, which some people believe. But you're not.

Fair play.