Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Emending Sheryl Crow (Mondegreens, 2)

God I feel like hell tonight,
Tears of rage I cannot ----.
("Strong enough," Sheryl Crow)
What's that last word? My sister though it was "bite," but you don't bite tears. I told her it must be "fight," because that makes perfect sense. And it's what all the lyrics sites have.

Now I think they're wrong, and I want to emend them all. Ok, if the word were something as common and colorless as "fight," why would it cause anyone any trouble? My sister was on to something, and "bite" is clearly the lectio difficilior. Or should that be audio difficilior(*)?

I can get to the answer in one move. The lyric is "bide," as in "to tolerate, endure, put up with," a meaning noted by the OED and not marked there as archaic, though I don't find it in my computer's dictionary. I'm listening to the song right now, and I just don't hear the hiss of air that should accompany an f. It's an initial b, and then the word has to be "bide."

Well, "tears of rage I cannot bide" comes up twice on Google, as opposed to 119,000 hits for the version with "fight." The "fight" version even gets a citation in Google Scholar! But I am completely undeterred, because I am right, and I cannot bide this widely-repeated, scyptic violence to Sheryl Crow's poetic diction. (Actually, I'm not that confident any more: could all 119,000+ people be wrong? But my lyric is more fun.)

By the way, I am not strong enough to be Sheryl Crow's man. I might not even be strong enough to be Tom Lenk's man, though perhaps I could take him in a fight...

* - I know this isn't correct Latin, though I am capable of it. Don't be so captious.

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