Monday Night Special #13: Delving in With Diagrams (to Merry Christmas, Darling)

17 Dec

The Christmas radio station in Wichita starts playing holiday music in mid-November, so I’ve been pretty inundated for over a month.  It’s time to let that seep through in the Monday Night Special.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters

Quick Synopsis:

A gal looks around at her decked-out-for-Christmas house, and, while she finds it acceptable, she wishes she were with her love.

Important Quotation:

Holidays are joyful;
There’s always something new,
But every day’s a holiday
When I’m near to you.

This quotation expresses our narrator’s basic sentiment that while holidays are enjoyable to a certain extent without her dearest love, when she is with her dearest love, every moment seems extra special.


Merry Christmas Darling diagram

Thoughts on Structure:

We’ve got three independent clauses, and all are pretty simple.  The second has an expletive there.  Our last clause is our kind of interesting one.  It’s an adverb clause telling us when every day’s a holiday, and it has near as a predicate adjective.  Usually near is an adverb or a preposition.  But like like, near can flip flop according to usage.  Now, when we’ve discussed this sort of thing before, with the like example from a million ago, you’ll notice this sort of thing usually has an adverbial objective with it:  Your boyfriend looked like my girlfriend; I like to be near you, etc.  Here, we do not have an adverbial objective but a prepositional phrase: When I’m near to you.  It’s a very old-fashioned phrasing.

Which brings me to my point.  This song takes some pains to sound kind of *old-timey, to give it that classic Christmas chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire-dreaming-of-a-white-Christmas-it’s-Christmas-time-in-the-city glossy big-bandy feel to it.  The poetry of the lyrics, the orchestration, Karen’s smooth vocal stylings, and even the grammar reflect this.  We see this most evidently in the “logs on the fire fill me with desire” line and the playful, Bing Crosby-ish “Christmas-ing with you” line, but we also see it grammatically again in “I wish I were with you.”  Correct usage of subjunctive mood!!!  Very old-fashioned, indeed.

Final Thoughts:

Grace and I always sing this song as a medley with “Rainy Days and Mondays” because the choruses have similar chord progressions.

*If the notes on the Youtube video I linked to can be believed, the lyrics to this song were actually written in the 1940s.  Regardless, my point–that it sounds like a ’40s song–is valid.

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