Saturday, July 21, 2012

Punctuation is so important.

I left Sunday School when I was five and refused to go back. As a result, I picked up most of my knowledge of theology from another source: my mother's old cassette of Jesus Christ Superstar. I listened to it until it broke, and Mum fixed it with sticky tape and a pencil. You young people don't have any idea what I'm talking about, do you? We were also lucky enough to have the VHS. Kids, look it up. 

In addition to giving me some interesting ideas about theology, Jesus Christ Superstar also confused me a little bit on some aspects of Ancient History. 



Um. If the Romans had machine guns, why did they never successfully defeat the Parthian Empire? Were they too busy at Studio 54? 

Anyway, the point, and I think I had one, is that punctuation is important, and it relates to Jesus Christ Superstar. And here is how. 

These lyrics are from "I Don't Know How to Love Him", sung by Mary Magdalene about Jesus. 

He's a man
He's just a man 
And I've had so many men before
In very many ways
He's just one more

Do you see it? Do you see the problem? 

What Mary is singing is: "He's a man, he's just a man, and I've had so many men before. In very many ways, he's just one more." 

She is not singing (as I did for years): "...I've had so many men before in very many ways. He's just one more." 

Although, you know, she was a prostitute so the second one is at least technically true. 

Punctuation. So important. 

***
Has punctuation ever tripped you up in the past? 

9 comments:

  1. There's a few songs that I misunderstood, perhaps because of punctuation. (I tend to be too generous with my commas, so CP tells me.)

    I had visions of menage a trois in one song, when the word wasn't 'you and me and Leslie', instead of 'you and me endlessly'. (Young Rascals, Groovin', a summer song)

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. I had the same trouble with understanding some of the lyrics to "Constant Dreaming." ^_^

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    2. Oh, I like "you and me and Leslie". So much more inclusive!

      I hope you have a great weekend as well :)

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    3. Aldrea, 'm off to google the lyrics now!

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  2. "Has punctuation ever tripped you up in the past?"

    More like some prankster writing god ties my shoelaces together every morning.

    And it's just not fair that so much power should reside in one meek comma.

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    1. This is why I love commas so much, and use them whenever I can. They are the workhorse of the punctuation world, without ever losing their whimsy!

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  3. I used to listen to that song on cassette, too, and from the phrasing, always heard it the way you did.

    Couldn't find the sheet music, but one book says it was written that way purposely, to sort of trick you before the next line. Those crazy writers...

    By the way, here's an interesting bit from Wiki: "When first presented with 'I Don't Know How to Love Him,' Elliman had been puzzled by the romantic nature of the lyrics, as she was under the misapprehension that the Mary she'd been recruited to portray was Jesus' mother."

    And though portrayed that way in that film and others, Mary Magdalene wasn't a prostitute, but one of Jesus's most important disciples.

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    1. Those crazy writers needs a good editor to point out that clarification is sometimes more important than a play on words!

      And I agree with you about Mary M as well, I ended up studying the History of the Early Christian Church at uni, and loved it. So much that was swept under the carpet. When I was in high school that's the course I used to wag school for and go to uni to sit in on lectures with Kath. 2 years later I did it for myself, and always felt I had a slight unfair advantage over the others...

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  4. Too bad schools barely teach the proper use of commas anymore.

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