Hello again, gentle reader,
Well, I’ve been wracking my brain for something new to show for these efforts, and frankly, nothing has shown up. Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned this post (from back in July!) to pretty much everyone I meet, and very few have ever seen it (including some who claim to read this blog regularly?). I still think it’s one of my best entries among the 40 or so I’ve done so far.
SO-O-O-O …. HERE IT COMES AGAIN:
Now we come to one of my real annoyances: the refusal of most people to use the objective case properly when dealing with pronouns. I refer of course to the infamous use of “I” (instead of “me”) as the object of a preposition, as well as in other non-subjective conditions. To put it bluntly, “between you and I” is not a correct way to use those words.
The reason this is so often done incorrectly, I believe, is twofold:
(1) We grow up being constantly corrected for saying “Me and Tommy wanna go …” or “Me and Daddy gone fishing.” Whichever parent is within earshot (at least, those who care about helping to shape their child’s language skills) will almost instantly jump in with, “No, Honey, that should be “Tommy and I want to go…“ or “Daddy and I went fishing!” Teachers then take over, so the lesson is ingrained; I recall with some humor how one of my early-grade mentors would point out the incorrect usage we heard each week watching “The Adventures of RinTinTin,” wherein Corporal Rusty would tell about “the fun me and Rinny had yesterday.”) After a while, a kid gets scared to ever use “me” anywhere in a sentence, let alone where it should go;
(2) Thanks to a quirk of the English language, “you” can be used pretty much anywhere, since the same word can be either a subject or an object in a sentence: “You and I” can go somewhere or do something; I can also go do something with … you! Anytime “you” shows up in a sentence, the initial impulse is to pair it with “I” (as in “it was really a good time for you and I” or that horrific and aforementioned “between you and I” construct – which for my constant readers, doesn’t work with “among” either!).
The secret to dealing with this one is very simple: anytime you have to end a sentence, or follow a preposition, with a first-person pronoun, split it up first; if you begin with “between” say it like this: “between you … and between me” (doesn’t “between I” just sound wrong to your ear?). Try it again on “with”; see how “… with I” just doesn’t sound right?
If you’d like to see it from a more rule-based stance, think of it this way: if you’ve set up a sentence-ending with “us” rather than “we” (some of my closest friends know exactly where this train’s going) you’re in the middle of objective-pronoun territory; while “we” contains “I” as one of its components, “us” only works with “me.” In summary, when using the English language properly, you may not follow an objective phrase (such as “of us”) with a subjective pronoun … as in, “you and I”!
The fact that a song that’s been part of the liturgy (closes every Sunday service as a singalong) at the church/Center I’ve attended most Sundays for the past 15 or so years (Center for Spiritual Living of Nashville, fka Religious Science of Nashville), with the accepted version of its lyric insisting on using this improper construct at the end of Verse One… well, let’s just say it makes my teeth grate just a little each week around 12:20 p.m. or so!
When the final line of the first stanza (or what has become that; don’t read ahead) of “It’s In Every One of Us” comes around, with its closing of “It’s In Ev-ry One of U-us… you and I,” the hair on the back of my next stands straight up. The only refuge I find is in either quietly singing, “you and me” – or doing it the way the songwriter actually wrote it.
This would be annoying enough to this Word Nazi, had the songwriter who created the song actually gone that route. I could then blame him for the error in usage and agreement. However, the fact this song has been rewritten and adapted (by a broad spectrum of New Thought churches?) since David Pomeranz, the Jewish Scientologist [Hat Tip to Rand Bishop for that odd factoid] wrote it back in the 1970s, and in ways he probably never intended, lets him off the hook, and only makes it worse.
For those of you still reading this (you already got the lesson, now you’re midway through the tacked-on rant), Pomeranz’s actual lyric opens with a chorus (this has become the first “verse” as it is sung at CSLN and apparently elsewhere). When he gets to that last line, however, instead of the tortured construction sung in those Sunday choral-gatherings, the actual writer of the song closes it with “It’s In Every One Of Us … By and By”.
[Maybe this was too reminiscent of “pie in the sky by and by” or “in the sweet by-and-by” for the tastes of Religious Science and other non-traditional doctrines, so someone simply tweaked it to fit the rhyme, without regard for the literacy faux pas being committed; at any rate, it has now become institutionalized that way, not only in Nashville but in similar circles across the country, or so I’m told. ]
Pomeranz’s song, meanwhile, sings that “chorus twice, then follows with a single verse/bridge/middle-section, done in a completely different key and with a much varied “feel”; it’s quite lovely in its own right (NOTE: this section is not sung anywhere among the New Thought churches I know of; perhaps it should be, here’s the lyric for that part):
It’s in everyone of us/I just remembered/It’s like I been sleeping for years,
I’m not awake as I can be/But my seeing is better,
I can see/Through the tears,
I’ve been realising that I bought this ticket/And watching only half of the show,
There is scenery and lights/And a cast of thousands,
Who all know/What I know,
And it’s good/That it’s so
He then repeats the opening “chorus” once more, without a single change, and tags it with a repeat of the last line thus completing the song. (I highly recommend, in case you haven’t seen it, that you check out the gorgeous video of the song—done the way he wrote it, and with his voice—with its series of absolutely brilliant fades from one face to another and beyond!) I have a copy of it on VHS to show you if you’re in the Nashville vicinity; it’s not only a sweet song, sung beautifully by David himself, but a stunning visual treat as well, whose concept has inspired numerous videographers since then.)
Anyway, somewhere along the way over the succeeding nearly four decades, someone fashioned a second “verse,” which got tacked on to create the two-stanza anthem it has now become. (Who did it? I’ve often wondered, since I cannot find that “second verse” anywhere, at very least not by Googling both David Pomeranz and the song-title itself. Up until now, it hadn’t bothered me enough to go find someone closer to the issue … maybe it’s my next quest?)
This turns his repeated “chorus” into two “verses,” the second of which is directly adapted from the existing “chorus” (with an admittedly good spin, I might add; someone should be getting credit for that work, not to mention maybe a royalty-check, for all the times it’s been performed?). However, I have yet to see anyone but D. Pomeranz ever listed as the songsmith, which might make him chuckle a bit (assuming he does get some compensation for the tune outside of his own performances of it).
Whoever did it changed the first line from “It’s In Every One Of Us … To Be Wise” to “It’s In Every One Of Us … To Be Free” …
(oops, and there went the great chance to ‘tweak” the first stanza to allow the ending of “you and me” to work. Ya can’t really end a verse on “eee” (as in “me”), and then start the next verse with a line using the same vowel! I guess, as a songwriter whose lyrics are usually nearly impeccable in their craft—even when there’s not much worth “pecking” about in the content?— I just wish I’d been around when they first started “tweaking”!).
The (re)writer then carried that theme forward, with just a few minor variations: (s)he changed “Find your heart” to “Find yourself”; “open up both your eyes” to “open your eyes and see”; then it was “have” to “know”; and the setup-line’s ending of “why” to “how”. Finally, and in perhaps the most ironic part of the rewrite, the new lyricist used the solidly New Thought concept of “here and now” to close that second stanza (usually followed by the benediction “and so it is!” wherever I’ve heard it). In so doing, not only does the phrase fit seamlessly into the basic message of the teaching, it completely counters the old-school Bible-thumping “by and by” post-mortem picture that had been ousted from the Pomeranz chorus-begets-first-verse construction.
And now you know way more than you wanted to know about this subject, but maybe you’ll at least think twice before uttering “between you and I” again … and maybe even, now and then, sing the correct words to the song at services? (Meanwhile, I must don my “questing togs” … the game is afoot!)