Moot Point

The word “moot” is doesn’t come up much in song lyrics*. My cursory search turned up 30 unique songs that use the word. Almost half use “moot” in a way that may not be consistent with normal usage of the word – at least to my reading.

Inarguably, the most famous use of “moot” in a song is in Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”.

I’ll play along with this charade
That doesn’t seem to be a reason to change
You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute
I wanna tell her that I love but the point is probably moot

It is pretty hard to miss. They lyric sticks out like a sore thumb, in part because “cute” and “moot” almost rhyme but don’t. Like an uncanny valley, if such a thing actually exists, of rhyme.

Having come of age in the 80s & 90s and having a desire to inflict my formative experiences on my own children, we were listening to Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Dulcinea in the car. For my money, their use of “moot” in their song “Nanci” is superior to that of Mr. Springfield

A legal precedent could set us straight
But no one’s brought up suit
And I’m assumin’ that if they did
The point would still be moot

In an earlier verse, they also have the audacity to rhyme “spoons” with “doom” in the middle of a Uri Geller reference. That is my kind of song writing. “Nanci” leaves us with the message that everything is fine no matter what:

You take Nancy
For me Loretta’s fine
No I’ve changed my mind
I’ll take Nancy
For you Loretta’s fine

“Jessie’s Girl” is actually kind of a bummer:

And I’m lookin’ in the mirror all the time
Wonderin’ what she don’t see in me
I’ve been funny; I’ve been cool with the lines
Ain’t that the way love’s supposed to be?
Tell me why can’t I find a woman like that?

You know, Rick, I think it is becoming obvious why Jessie got the girl and you did not.

Or maybe it’s just that I don’t prefer intermittent rhymes to rhyming* couplets that much? Oh, wait, I do.

Incidently, Toad the Wet Sprocket is on tour this summer with Counting Crows, which is like mashing up my formative years into one concert. What’s next? A Voltron v He-Man movie?

Screenshot 2014-06-27 22.18.09

*The WordPress proofreader doesn’t even recognize “moot” as a properly spelled word under certain conditions.

**I am very fond of the spelling of the word “rhyme” too. Just look at that beauty. Who puts an “h” in between an “r” and a “y”? Poets. That’s who. Poets.



Author: Josh Witten

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