It’s National Poetry Month, so I’d like to talk about “poetic license” in songs.
A writer who takes poetic license deviates from the correct use of language to express himself/herself. Poets do this to achieve the effects of rhyme, meter, or some other desired outcome.
Did Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, two iconic songwriters take poetic license when they misused the words LIE vs LAY in their songs? I’m not sure. These words are often confused with one another.
Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” is grammatically incorrect. You lay down an object, but in the song, he’s talking to Sally and what he really wants is for her to lie down.
It’s the same with Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” The correct title should be “Lie Lady Lie,” though Dylan’s version rolls off the tongue much more easily.
Bad grammar aside, these songs are forever etched in my brain as they were written. I’d feel pretty foolish to sing them any other way.
Please share any songs you know where the writer has taken poetic license with the title or lyrics.
In the meantime, enjoy “Lay Down Sally,” and I hope you have a great week.
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