Friday, April 27, 2007

Country Grammar

Is Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" the most confusingly punctuated song title of all time? The way it's officially styled seems like an aphorism: if you don't have a woman, you will have no need to cry (which is an attitude that most of us fellas can identify with). But the "woman" here is actually an appositive, the person to whom the imperative statement is being addressed. It needs to be "No, Woman, No Cry."

If you want us to understand your patois, Bob, the least you could do is punctuate it properly. It seems like this, as happens with most things in life, is a lesson that he learned too late.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Right. The lyrics are rendered as an appositive on most web sites. I've often thought, though, that the meaning is: Not a single woman should cry. No woman, no cry. This is how I hear it when played: as a slogan. The song is then addressed to the whole community that sat in the government yard in Trenchtown. It is a rallying cry. No woman, no cry. Get up, stand up. I'd say it works both ways -- as a personal and communal address -- and is meant to. But this reading actually makes some sense out of the way the title is rendered.

Please move on to the Keith Richard/Keith Richards orthographic controversy.