"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart..." Linda McCartney

Words

In Books, Feelings, Reading on March 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm

“It’s only words, and words are all I have…”

I have always had a great love of, interest in and affinity for words. I love language. I love the music of language. I love the individual words of the English language. Even profane language has a certain musicality about it when the vituperation is strung together with the requisite amount of heat when used to punctuate anger or the right amount of wit to invoke humor.  Richard Pryor, we sorely miss you.

People are always either amused or angered by my vocabulary. It’s never made me popular at work.

My own mother hated me all her life because I was a reader and I had an affinity with words. She always told me I was acting white or that I was not smart, and when she thought she wasn’t beating me down enough with her constant assaults to my self esteem, she talked about me abusively to anyone and everyone who would listen. My mother was my most vociferous hater. After her, all others paled. And there were others. Many others.

People have said things to me, to my face, that it would never, ever even  occur to me to say out loud or maybe perhaps think to contemplate or even utter to myself, alone in the dark, under my breath about anyone I have ever met. I must be the biggest asshole I have ever known in my life or I really am Job, only without the three false friends. Even three false friends I would welcome at this point.

I love the English language. It is about big words because our small ones don’t always covey emotion. They just make you seem like you’re going with the flow. Like Elizabeth Hasselback.

The English language is not romantic like Spanish or Italian or French. It’s not necessarily meant to convey feelings or nuance. We have film for that.  It’s utilitarian. It’s cerebral. It’s meant to convey ones thought processes. Its sole purpose is to establish meaning.  In America, it’s all about making meaning, making sense, making the point, being UNDERSTOOD.

Maybe in France and Italy it’s more about expressing feelings, emotions, evoking the past; it’s playful. Here in America, it’s all business all the time.  It’s about not being misunderstood.

Language is serious, especially now in our “it’s my way or the highway” group-think, be different just like everybody else society. You will never see a fiction writer or non-fiction writer appear as a guest on Jay Leno, or sit with Matt and Meredith, or Regis and Kelly and the ladies of The View.

Nobody’s talking about books, or ballet, or opera. Nobody plays the accordion or the harp, or sings songs with intelligent, meaningful lyrics without vocal gymnastics. If they talk about a book, it’s probably written by some celebrity who thinks we “need to understand” their mental health issue, or their divorce, or their list of lovers, or their addictions. Boor..ring!

Seems the only place you can hear about books and words is on NPR or The Daily Show or The Colbert Report or the NYTimes Book Review.

Do we really need another self-help book, or celebrity “cathartic,” tell-all expose, or someone’s false-seeming memoir, or yet another book book about how to get, attract, keep, meet or marry a man? Or get a job, write a resume or network?

Do we?

smile an ever lasting smile

a smile can bring you near to me

don’t ever let me find you gone

’cause that would bring a tear to me

this world has lost its glory

let’s start a brand new story

now my love

you think that I don’t even mean

a single word I say

 

it’s only words

and words are all I have

to take your heart away

 

talk in ever lasting words

and dedicate them all to me

and I will give you all my life

i’m here if you should call to me

you think that I don’t even mean

a single word I say

 

it’s only words

and words are all I have

to take your heart away

 

it’s only words

and words are all I have

to take your heart away

 

da da da da da da da

da da da da da da da da da da

da da da da da da da

da da da da da da da da da da

 

this world has lost its glory

let’s start a brand new story

now my love

you think that I don’t even mean

a single word I say

 

it’s only words

and words are all I have

to take your heart away

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