Among word pushers, some really need to lighten up and find something better to do with their time. A good example: Those who find grammatical flaws in songs.

I pay the bills as a copy editor, so I daresay I come into contact with this species more regularly than average folk do. I can’t tell you how many colleagues I’ve had over the years who delight in pointing out stuff like this:

The redundancy in Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”: “This ever-changing world in which we live in …” (Now, there are some who claim that Macca really says “in which we’re livin’,” and to those I say this: I’ve heard the song roughly 3,000 times. And I think you’re wrong.)

The failure to deploy the subjunctive in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”: “Homeward bound … I wish I was …”

More redundancy, courtesy of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town”: “No, I cannot forget from where it is that I come from …”

You get the picture. While I certainly have my peeves — oh, lordy, do I have my peeves — this was never really one of them. I’ve never had the expectation that lyrics should be paragons of precise grammar. To me, they serve two functions: to communicate ideas and images and to fit, sonically, with the accompanying music. I’m willing to forgive much under the auspices of sonic Jell-o.

It was strange, then, to find myself distracted a few hours ago by The Doors’ “Touch Me.” I was driving home and heard, not for the first time, “… till the stars fall from the sky for you and I.”

It’s easy enough to see why Jim Morrison chose the words he did. They rhyme. Still, I tried to come up with something just as good that was also grammatical. The closest I got was “the land falls in the sea for you and me,” which isn’t close at all. What Jim Morrison lacked in objective pronouns he more than made up for in lyricism. He gets a pass.

So does Ken Stringfellow, whose loveliest song (in my opinion), “Death of a City,” includes this bit:

“He walks right through you and I now, silently making his usual rounds …” Stringfellow didn’t need the pronoun for his rhyme (now/rounds), and I suspect that he’s smart enough to know the proper grammar. My guess is that he simply liked this choice better in the full context of ideas and music. I’m inclined to agree. Send me to hell if you must.

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