Jim Morrison, “Amazing Grace,” and Aerosmith

One was the lead singer of the Doors, one is a revered hymn, and one is a hard rock band. What do these three musical entities have in common?

Grammar errors.

We understand that “Touch Me” was one of the Doors’ defining songs and that it is beloved by many. Nonetheless, we wince whenever we hear Jim singing, “I’m gonna love you… ‘Til the stars fall from the sky… For you and I.” That should be “for you and me,” Jim. (We get it. It wouldn’t rhyme. But it would be grammatically correct.)

Then there’s the last verse of “Amazing Grace”: “We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we first begun.” This is a twofer. First, given that “days” is a plural noun, it should be “no fewer days.” Second, “than when we first begun”—we hope it’s obvious that this should be “than when we first began.” Or, as many newer hymn books now have it, “when we’d first begun.” Either of those works, and of course the latter has the advantage of rhyming with the “sun” mentioned earlier in the verse. But check an old hymnal, and even some modern ones, and you’re likely to find the “we first begun” construction.

Unlike hymn writers, rock bands aren’t usually held to a high grammatical standard (see example 1). And certainly “Sweet Emotion” is a great song, and certainly there’s a catchiness to the Aerosmith lyric: “My get-up-and-go must’ve got up and went.” But since the “must’ve” is the past perfect, the correct verb at the end would be “gone,” not went. Again, we can forgive this error because poetic license is at play. (Besides, we have a late-blooming weakness for Aerosmith.) Nonetheless, we can’t help but notice the mistake.

We know there are many more examples of bad grammar in lyrics. Which ones do you notice?

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