Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inconsequential post of the day

To be sure, all of my posts are inconsequential. This one is just exceptionally unburdened by importance, seriousness, and urgency.

To bear out my point, here is the observation that inspired this post: Over the last few weeks, in two (1, 2) of his televised performances of "With a Little Help From My Friends," Ringo has sung the opening line of the song as, "What would you do if I sang out of tune." This has irritated me a bit because it sounds like Ringo is forgetting the lyrics (that is, one word) to perhaps his most beloved Beatles song. On the Sgt. Pepper's version, the line goes, "What would you think ...."

From "think" to "do," from passive to active. Maybe Ringo has reimagined the song's addressee as someone forceful and energetic. Maybe this new person is more demanding when it comes to the quality of a vocal, so much so that he or she would leap into action to protest an out-of-tune part, as opposed to letting his or her reproving thoughts just idle on the inside.

These are far-fetched possibilities. They're also undercut by what's said on the second line of the song, which Ringo hasn't altered in any way: "Would you stand up and walk out on me?" This means that Ringo has always pictured the person whom he was addressing as someone willing to act on their potential disdain for his voice. He hasn't re-conceptualized this individual, then. What he has done is tweak the original query ("What would you think?) so that it finds an appropriate follow-up question in the words, "Would you stand up and walk out on me." Put another way, it makes sense to ask someone what they would do in a particular instance and then wonder if their deed might entail walking out on you. It makes less sense to ask someone what they think of a particular situation and then immediately afterwards pose the question, "Would you stand up and walk out on me." The nature of the second question sort of demands that the first one pertain to an action, not a thought process. Hence the replacement of "think" with "do."

I hope you don't feel I misled you about the towering triviality of this post. I think it speaks for itself.

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