Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's Maddening...

Here's an example of how one measely little word can change everything.

Tears For Fears has a song, "Mad World" which has been covered by more than one person. There is a line,
"Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow."
All right. Now check out what it says on one of the covers. [I won't say who it is by so as not to shame them. :) ]
"Hide my head I want to drown in my sorrow."
!!! in? It's a tiny little word, doesn't do much. Oh wait. Yes, it does. That makes a huge change in the meaning of the whole concept! Be careful, people. One word makes all the difference in what you are saying. ;)

By the way, a fun tidbit: The original song by Tears For Fears is quite speedy and catchy. For the movie Donnie Darko Michael Andrews and Gary Jules covered it. [They are not the ones who added "in."] Their version is very slow and melancholy. It's an entirely different kind of change. I have to tell you, if I had heard the Tears For Fears original I had forgotten it. After hearing Andrews/Jules' I found the original no good at all at first. Quite jarring. I've since come to appreciate both equally. But here's the corker. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears For Fears prefer the Donnie Darko version as well! They said the song had been improved. How about that?


Arlene said...

I manage Curt Smith, and can confirm what you say :). With respect to your comment about now appreciating both versions of "Mad World": Curt's feeling is that if the underlying material is good in the first place, the song will stand up to a variety of arrangements and interpretations.

For example, Curt's new solo album Halfway, pleased includes three different versions of the song "Seven of Sundays": fully orchestrated, acoustic, and as a duet with French singer Sophie Saillet. All are beautiful, but each quite different from the other. You can listen to them on his website if you're so inclined :).

Arlene Wszalek

Danielle Mari said...

Not to mention punctuation mishaps! Consider this, taken from Lynne Truss's "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." She highlights two versions of the same biblical passage, Luke xxiii, 43. Note the implied theological difference between the two (I'm paraphrasing):
Protestant version- "Verily, I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
Catholic version- "Verily I say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
I use this passage (with thanks to Ms. Truss) when teaching my students the importance of commas. I call the unit Comma Drama!
To your note about changing words- so many poetry anthologies seem quite sloppy about their transcription of capitalizations, punctuation, word spelling, etc. It drives me crazy!
(OK- it's admittedly not a long drive!)

Peter Von Brown said...

Arlene - Wow, thanks for the 'inside' comment and post!

Danielle - I had hoped that someone would mention "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." I didn't mention it staightaway because I wanted to keep the focus on the line in the song. So, thanks!

Mel said...

my favorite punctuation example is this one:

A woman -- without her, man is nothing.


A woman without her man is nothing.