The One Word Lyricists Resent Most

Pore over the last century of American pop music lyrics and you can't dodge one persistently dominant theme,  i.e Love. Mostly romantic love. Certainly, it is the most intensely commanding motif of early-20th-century Tin Pan Alley poets. whose principal assignment was to  forage for new ways of saying "I love you."  So why has the Love trope  frustrated, rankled and stymied  so many of the  noted wordsmiths who lay their words over musical notes? The answer can be found in scanning the pages of a time-yellowed  Clement Wood Rhyming Dictionary , dogeared from ceaseless reference by masters like Sondhiem and sometime scribblers like me.*

Grope for words that rhyme with Love and you'll uncover a measly quintet : above, dove, glove, of, and shove. That's it, a mere five rhymes to escort the romanticist into  the emotional landscape of euphoria , devotion, disappointment, loss, kindness, ambivalence, admiration, ecstasy, passion,  rapture, bliss,, yearning, and that reliable old favorite, heartbreak. (I probably just overlooked a dozen or so others.)  Though I know neither French or Italian (and am too lazy to do the research), I have faith that the French Rhyming Dictionary will yield  far more rhymes for "amour" and the Italian counterpart for "amore"  far more than ours can cough up.

Now think about how  the  muse of  the English-language lyricist could throw off the creative shackles of "Love"--liberated  to  choose from the  untold tessera of Love's colossal mosaic -- if the word for Love rhymed with, let's say, "ay" (over 100 Rhyming Dictionary entries) or "oo" (over 300) or "ee"(even more)   or any number of  the other  copious, hospitably simple rhymes that would have ignited a  jailbreak from the literary cell-blocks that cage the hamstrung  writers of the craft.

Take the aforementioned "ee " for example.  Who's to say that the word for Love couldn't have instead evolved into the word "shmee"?  Think of the jubilation that would have erupted among the word-merchant tribes---  a glee rivaling the euphoria that accompanied  the storming of the Bastille,  or the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

And think about a sample revision such as:

Picture you

Upon my knee

Just tea for two

And two for tea

Me and you

And you and me

IN SHMEE

Ah, yes, just consider the  vistas of imagination that might have been.

 

*Though I have been the lyricist for about a dozen published songs, I can't say that any of them could be classified as a Billboard hit.  Indeed, it's been about 20 years since I received a United Artists royalty check for my most successful song.  It represented the sheet-music sales for that year. Three to be exact.  For a total yield of 37 cents.

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