Beatles and Bad Grammar

I recently saw Across the Universe. As most people know, the movie updates a bunch of Beatles songs, and uses them to tell a story.

It’s pretty good, and part of the fun is seeing how the movie-makers adapt the lyrics to their purpose.

The one I bring you today is especially interesting to me, because they exploit poor grammar to make the song work in a way that it wasn’t originally intended to.

The song: If I Fell.

The words:

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

It’s all about the last line.

The Beatles wanted to say that they hope this new woman will love them more than the last woman did. More than SHE did. SHE is the correct pronoun.

But most people don’t say, “I want you to love me more than she.” They’ll either say, “her,” or if they’re like me and want to get it right, “she did.” The Beatles weren’t about to screw up the rhythm of the song by saying “she did,” so they left it at “her.” Or they didn’t know any better. Either way, it is what it is.

The point is, as I said, the song was intended to be a man singing to a woman about loving him more than the last woman did.

But the movie has a woman singing to a man. What to do? Change the lyrics?

Luckily, due to the grammatical error (or conscious decision), the movie didn’t have to change a thing.

We see the woman singing, while watching a man. She’s clearly singing about him. Then comes the line. I’ll give it to you again, because I’m feeling generous:

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

At that point, we see the guy with another woman. And it’s obvious that our singer wants him to love her (the singer) more than he loves this other woman (HER). It works perfectly; it’s grammatically, artistically, musically, and visually unmistakable. Plus, I got to use another semicolon.

2 Responses to “Beatles and Bad Grammar”