But the grammar? My oh my. The grammar in country music is a little bit of chicken fried*, smothered, covered, and scattered. I want to go up to those singers (or songwriters) and say “Hey, don’t you know that’s wrong?”
My need for good grammar passed down through my father who always corrected my blunders. So when I listen to my favorite country songs, a piece of me is busy cataloguing all the errors. Here are some examples:
Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party: “I fired it up, and let them horses sing.” He means to say those horses.
Miranda Lambert – The House that Built Me: “Won’t take nothing but a memory.” She means to say she won’t take anything.
Blake Shelton – Ol’ Red: “Ain’t nobody got past Red.” He means to say no one got past Red.
Carrie Underwood – Don’t Forget to Remember Me: “But for me they drug on and on.” She means to say they dragged on and on.
And one of my all time un-favorites from the same Carrie Underwood song: “I know there’s more important things.” She means to say there are.
This conundrum isn’t strictly focused in the U.S. Keith Urban from Australia commits the same crime in Without You: “The traveling, the singing, it don’t mean nothing without you.” Of course he means to say it doesn’t mean anything without you. And Shania Twain from fair Canada encourages the problem with her hit That Don’t Impress Me Much, which should be That Doesn’t Impress Me Much.
To be fair, country music can’t shoulder all the blame. Who can forget the Rolling Stones’ famous line “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”?
Know what’s right and what’s wrong, then you can break the rules. If you’re writing a story set in the South, it don’t mean nothin’ is perfectly apropos for your character. Or in a Western, your hero might use the phrase chawing on a piece of hay or the pronouns hisn and ourn.
The times they are a changin’. There’s two cars is now an accepted part of our daily speech. So is the word nother, as in “a whole nother thing.” Nonetheless, I hope you’ll recognize these imperfections and make your writing free of blunders. Because us passionate ones, excuse me, we passionate ones prefer correct grammar if we have a choice.