I just read that novelist Tom Wolfe (who says he doesn’t read blogs) is offering a $5000 reward for any song that makes it to the Top 10, which contains the words “am not, doesn’t, or isn’t.”
As a writer, I love the correct usage of the English language as much as Mr. Wolfe does, and have posted my complaints about the atrocities currently being committed against English grammar either from ignorance or for the sake of convenience.
But as a songwriter, I also realize that lyrics must be euphonious (they have to ‘sing.’) The words used in a song must conform to the rhythm and contribute to the sound of the phrase, as well as the turn of it. I find using “am not” awkward in rhythm, and will use “I’m not” instead, but that is the only alternative that will work if you have room for two syllables in the line. If you only have room for one syllable, “ain’t” is better than “amn’t”, which some have tried to foist on us as the proper contraction.
The same goes for “doesn’t” and “isn’t.” In a country or rock song, if you say, “she doesn’t” or “he isn’t”, instead of “she don’t” or “he ain’t”, then you might have to start putting the g’s back on the ends of words like goin’ or doin’, and then it wouldn’t be country or rock any more, but like that stuff they used to sing on “Your Hit Parade.”
Strange thing is, I can still recall the lyrics to those songs after all these years, but a week after I hear a new country or rock song, I couldn’t tell you one line from it–if I were able to understand it in the first place!
Love ya, Mr. Wolfe! Wish I could write something with proper grammar that would sell, and collect your $5000.