Saturday, March 04, 2006

Me and Bobby McGee

K. Kristofferson, F. Foster (BMI) Janis Joplin Columbia 1971
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows, for one single yesterday
Could there be a better example of lamentation?

I like this line for its use of a subtle figure of speech to good effect. The figure is catachresis, which is incorrect or paradoxical word usage. At any given point in time, there can only be one day called "tomorrow" and one called "yesterday", yet a multiplicity of them is inferred.

One can almost find another figure, synechdoche (use of a part for the whole), in the use of "tomorrow" to stand for the whole future -- except for the plural form.

This is a fine example of the way song lyrics, and poetry in general, often make use of rhetorical devices to heighten the effect of the language -- to pack more meat in it.

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose
I'm not sure what that means, but I do like the way it sounds!

I've just had it explained to me by someone who I think has been there. Loosely paraphrased:

Posit, if you will, someone who has lost parents, spouse, child, home -- everything. There remains only the ultimate freedom -- to slip the earthly bonds of this mortal coil -- because all of importance is already lost. This wretched individual, wrenched by the despair of those losses, drenched by the loss of hope, might even believe that the ultimate freedom would be a preferable alternative to her current miserable condition.


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