if you’ve even remotely been following my syntax fascination

then you’ll get why my mind was completely flooded with the power and genius, and yeah, muscle and sinew, of this particular John Prine lyric, heard so often but never before like this, at the BonTaj Roulet Tour concert last night:

“if dreams were thunder, lightning was desire”

jesus. Listen to the difference if he’d used parallel phrasing instead of reversing the subject/predicate in the second phrase:

-if dreams were thunder, [if] desire was lightning
or
-if thunder were dreams, lightning was desire

And speaking of difference, the lyrics John Prine wrote actually went:

“if dreams were lightning, thunder were desire”

but only he seems to sing it that way; everyone else follows Bonnie Raitt. Well, hers did get massive popular coverage. But I also think her version has a better logical flow, it fits the rhythm of our common speech. We say “thunder and lightning” not “lightning and thunder,” even though, in fact, thunder comes from lightning. But folk idiom is powerful, it is ingrained in our brains early on. And our brains remember phrases whose spoken sounds start at the front of our mouths (that “lie” sound) and then move to the back (that “der” sound). So did she intentionally rewrite? I’m betting probably not, but that singing the lyric in way that says “thunder lightning” was how she remembered it. Because it is, in fact, more memorable than how Prine wrote it.

Although I always love that Prine used the grammatically proper “were” in both of his clauses.

______________________

And…

if you think I wasn’t also blown away by how Bonnie Raitt gets more beautiful, more powerful, more rich and more astounding with age, and by where in my body her music gets me, then why do you think you know me well enough to be reading my blog?

BonTaj Roulet

BonTaj Roulet

Listen Here:Angel From Montgomery

Lucinda Lyric Interlude

Because this song has gotten me through some rough spots in the past. Because it just popped up on Ipod shuffle. Because it is a great example of syntax and line being simultaneous. Because, if you are someone who deserves it, this song kicks your ass.

“Changed the Locks”
Lucinda Williams

I changed the lock on my front door so you can’t see me anymore
And you can’t come inside my house, and you can’t lie down on my couch
I changed the lock on my front door

I changed the number on my phone so you can’t call me up at home
And you can’t say those things to me that make me fall down on my knees
I changed the number on my phone

I changed the kind of car I drive so you can’t see me when I go by
And you can’t chase me up the street, and you can’t knock me off of my feet
I changed the kind of car I drive

I changed the kind of clothes I wear so you can’t see me anywhere
And you can’t spot me in a crowd, and you can’t call my name out loud
I changed the kind of clothes I wear

I changed the tracks underneath the train so you can’t find me again
And you can’t trace my path, and you can’t hear my laugh
I changed the tracks underneath the train

I changed the name of this town so you can’t follow me down
And you can’t touch me like before, and you can’t make me want you more
I changed the name of this town

I changed the lock on my front door, I changed the number on my phone
I changed the kind of car I drive, I changed the kind of clothes I wear

I changed the tracks underneath the train, I changed the name of this town
I changed the name of this town
I changed the name of this town

The Night of Her Insistence

The Night of Her Insistence
Nancy Reinhold, 1997

She finally understood it, the sadness of her life
the weight of her emotions, the gravity of light
She looked into the back of her mind
to see where she had been
But all she saw was a secret
and she could not look in

All those years of waiting
all those years of trying too hard
all those years of failing
pushed her down too far
She wearies of the geographies
that tell her who she is
She chokes on her philosophies
and all that she has been

When she finally put her foot down
she put her fears down too
she left them by the back door
and through the night she flew
Away from her emotions
away from tricks of time
away from cruel devotions
she left them all behind

It was the night of her insistence
it was the day she found her will
it was the dream she always harboured
and harbours still
It was the night of her configuration
all the pieces finally there
and in the light of transformation
She……

Finally understood it
the sadness of her life
the weight of her emotion
the gravity of light
She looked into the back of her mind
to see where she had been
and there she saw the secret
and now she looked in