jfk, stalin, and stripers oxford comma
(Photo credit: DougStephensAwesome)

(Please be aware, this article was posted on April 1st)

I’m pleased to announce that at this year’s annual meeting of the American Library Association in Las Vegas, there will be a special performance by the Oxford Commas, a band composed of librarians and university press editors who are dedicated to raising the grammatical standard in popular music. To that end, they will perform a set of classic rock and pop songs, all of them featuring lyrics edited to reflect proper grammar. The setlist will include such favorites as:

“Whom Do You Love?”
“Julio and Me Down by the Schoolyard”
“You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet”
“I Would Like to Be Sedated”
“Are You or Are You Not My Baby?”
“Two Out of Three Is Not Bad”
“You and Me and a Dog Named Boo”
“No Longer Wasting Time”
“I Can’t Get Any Satisfaction”
“You Really Have Me”
“Freebird”

Please join us for a rocking good time.

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Rick Anderson

Rick Anderson

Rick Anderson is Associate Dean for Collections and Scholarly Communication in the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. He speaks and writes regularly on issues related to libraries, scholarly communication, and higher education, and has served as president of NASIG and of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.

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Discussion

22 Thoughts on "Oxford Commas to Perform at ALA Meeting"

Oh, how I wish this was real.

(Apart from the re-ordering-you-and-me ones: that’s not a grammar issue, it’s just politeness.)

I don’t get Freebird, though: what am I missing?

Still being dense, I don’t see how it’s a punchline to that list of corrected songs. Is the joke that it’s not corrected?

The joke is multifaceted. “Freebird” is a requisite song, hence added almost grudgingly to all sets. It’s not a set list if “Freebird” isn’t on it. That’s one joke. The next joke is that there is no grammar involved in a one-word title, so it’s a funny way to end a list like this. Then, finally, to me, it’s just funny.

Ah, there we go — cultural context that we don’t have over here in the UK.

That should be…”I wish this WERE real.” The subjunctive, man, the subjunctive!

If you take requests:

“Lie Down, Sally”
“There Isn’t Any Sunshine (When She’s Gone)”

Actually, for an encore we were going to do a medley of “Lie Down, Sally” and “Lie, Lady, Lie.”

I am crossing fingers they do “Bobby McGee and I” for an encore. (Freebird made me laugh, though.)

Let’s give Metallic a little credit on “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

I’d also recommend The Magnetic Fields’ classic, “With Whom To Dance”

The rest of life pales in significance,
I’m looking for somebody with whom to dance

Should it not be “Julio and I” and “You and I and a dog”? Can’t help it, I was trained as a classical philologist. How do I audition for the Commas?

“I” is not always correct! It depends on whether the context is that of a subject or an object. So “Julio and I went shopping”, but “it was a bad day for Julio and me” — just as “I went shopping”, but “it was a bad day for me”.

In the context of Paul Simon’s song, the title phrase only crops up in the short imperative sentence “See you, me and Julio down by the schoolyard”. Here, the subject is implicit (the person being instructed to see), and “you, me and Julio” is the object. So “me” is correct.

Why, yes, I did used to run the Self-Appointed Grammar Police, thanks for asking! 🙂

I am aware of nominative and accusative cases, thanks, although I don’t claim to know much about popular music. Typically titles in English are in the nominative (unlike papal encyclicals in Latin which can begin with almost any case and then be titled thus). Sic transit gloria grammaticae.

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