There’s a danger that this blog ploughs the troughs of predictability, but bear with me, do.
I made the huge mistake of venturing ‘up the city’ last weekend. It was of course, late November, but no reason not to have every single shop dolled up like a Vegas Elvis, with the shop assistants all wearing those hilarious festive caps. And every shop I went into* was playing a loop of jolly yuletide songs. Cue the grumpy old man blog about Christmas coming far too early, completely missing the point of being festive, and feeling suicidal every time Sir Noddy yells ‘It’s Chriiiiiistmas’.
But no, I am nothing if not unpredictable, as my wife remarked a few years back when her birthday presents were all centred around a golfing theme. For this is a short blog about rhyming couplets.
I don’t really get the whole rhyming thing, to be honest. If you really strip it down, the idea of expressing yourself in the form of rhyme is really weird. It means that every time you say something you immediately limit yourself on the second line. And yet we’ve all had a go in our time, and usually to disastrous and embarrassing effect.
My personal trick with this, incidentally, is to start with a really more obscure word on the second line, so that from a distance, it looks like you have contrived the whole thing out of nowhere. So:
‘For you I would defy temptation, or mastermind matriculation’
has got a lot more hope of getting through the censors than
‘It’s only a matter of time before you, become the doo be doo be doo**’
Anyway, you get the general idea. The point of rhyming to express yourself is just mad. And sometimes, in a bid to just make a song rhythmic in the most contrived way, it all goes horribly wrong. Which brings me back to the shops. A fantastic example of the ouvre*** is my personal favourite at this time of the year:
On a worldwide scale, It’s just another winter’s tale
(Winter’s Tale – David “Bard of” Essex)
And, if you care to look, almost every line in this song is a similar appalling lyrical crime.
And let’s knock up a quick top five while we’re here:
2. I’m serious as cancer, When I say rhythm is a dancer
(Rhythm is a Dancer – Snap!)
And they say there are no taboos left….
3. Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon, I hope my legs don’t break, walking on the moon
(The Police – Walking on The Moon)
From the group that brought you ‘Da Doo Doo Doo’, and other great classics. You could easily have had “You don’t ever want to see me again, And your brother’s going to kill me and he’s six feet ten”, but I prefer the idea of Sting/NASA worrying themselves about breaking their legs. On the moon.
4. And fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door, Don’t say you’re easy on me you’re about as easy as a nuclear war
(Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know)
Err, yes. That lyric is an embarrassment. You’ve let yourself down, you’ve let your school down, etc etc
5. There was a little old lady, who was walkin down the road, She was struggling with bags from Tesco. There were people from the city havin lunch in the park, I believe that it’s called al fresco
(Lily Allen – Ldn)
I would hope that in future songs, ‘Our Lil’ will manage Lidl/Fiddle, Aldi/Mouldy, and very possibly M&S/Hedonist.
So that’s my pre-Festive gift to you. If you want to populate numbers 6-10, please do let me know. Almost any Bob Dylan songbook from the ‘lost years’ would give you a good start.
Until we meet again. (Don’t know where, don’t know when.)
*And reader, sadly there were many. My bid to get ‘something special’ for Mrs Emu at this time of year extends my patronage well beyond my normal haunts of Thorns the Ironmonger and Chadds the Gentlemen’s Outfitter.
**You can insert a number of endings here. Blue, True, New, and even, in the right circumstance, Glue. The only really great example of this rhyme in pop music that I can think of is:
‘Alison, I know this world is killing you, Alison, my aim is true’