You Are Not Anything But A Hound Dog, And Other Silly Sounding ‘Correct’ Grammar

675 words - 3 pages

When one thinks of rock-n-roll music many images come to mind. In the 50’s, pop culture was inundated with rebellious, teen-aged rockers for the first time. They wiggled and crooned their way through songs like, “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog,” and America, or at least the youth of America, loved them for the effort. The 60’s brought the British invasion and mop-topped foreigners belted out the frustration of the counter culture with songs like, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” The 70’s brought blood spitting freaks who screamed anthems such as, “I Wanna’ Rock-n-Roll All Night,” for crowds of stadium rock devotees. In the 80’s big hair and spandex ruled, and through their make-up glam-metal bands pouted songs like, “Don’t Need Nothin’ but a Good Time,” as an expression of their rebellion against the uptight Reagan era. The 90’s entered with flannel-wearing grunge acts but ended with a unique blend of traditional ...view middle of the document...

Really, it is a rather intelligent way to shake your fist at society. The grammar rules most commonly abused by the rock-n-roll industry are, dropping letters from words, the use of double negatives, and the use of ain’t. I will examine each area, discuss its background information, and detail its use and function within the music. Finally, I will attempt to reveal why rock-n-roll artists choose to butcher the language in the name of art. After all, what makes grammarians cringe makes rock-n-roll fans cheer.
Very few, if any, people pronounce every syllable of every word. People would find it odd to hear perfectly articulated words all of the time. However, there are some words that are massacred in the name of rock-n-roll more often than others. Usually, the physical structure of the word is slightly altered. Most often, the words are shortened. Frequently, the words that are shortened when sung are written correctly in the liner notes. However, often the artist is aware that he/she is changing the sound of the word and writes the word accordingly. . These words are abbreviated in many ways. It is most common to drop letters either at the beginning or the end of words. Apocope is, “The loss of one or more sounds or letters at the end of the a word.” (Webster 54) In the music world, apocope is most often used in words like, nothing (nothin’), feeling (feelin’), making (makin’), crying (cryin’), and rocking (rockin’). Most often, the letter that is eliminated is ‘G’. Elvis is one of the most notable musicians to use apocope. In his song “Hound Dog’, Elvis uses an apocope twice in the first line. “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog cryin’ all the time. As the title of this paper suggests, the song would simply not be the same if the King corrected his grammar. Other great offenders are Buddy Holly with “Cryin’, Waitin’ and Hopin,” Bob Dylan with “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “I Feel Like Makin’ Love,” by Bad Company, “Don’t Need Nothin’ but a Good Time,” by Poison, and “Jeremy,” by Pearl Jam. From this beginning list one can note that poor grammar knows no boundaries when it comes to time period.

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