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#1
Old 12-20-2012, 09:28 AM
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Grammar Nazis - Is Lola a man?

We all know The Kinks song Lola, right? Well, the rest of the song makes it obvious that Lola is packing some serious swinging heat, but at the end of the song there's the line:
"But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola"

From strictly grammatical perspective does that line mean that Lola is also glad that the speaker is a man, or that Lola is also man?
#2
Old 12-20-2012, 09:34 AM
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It means that the reference is ambiguous and so may mean either, exactly as Ray Davies intended.
#3
Old 12-20-2012, 09:36 AM
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The sense of it, outside the context of a song that just spent 3 minutes packing every ambiguous reference to Lola's gender that it was possible to pack in, is that Lola is glad that Mr. Davies is a man.
#4
Old 12-20-2012, 09:56 AM
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In Bangkok, Lola is anyone you want him/her to be.
#5
Old 12-20-2012, 10:25 AM
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OP needs a harry rag, and he'll be fine.
#6
Old 12-20-2012, 10:38 AM
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It's a syntactic ambiguity, like "tall men and women" or "police help dog bite victim."
#7
Old 12-20-2012, 10:56 AM
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I always liked "small business owners."
#8
Old 12-20-2012, 11:14 AM
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IMHO It's "The Crying Game" carefully constructed to survive the American radio censors of the time.

Last edited by TruCelt; 12-20-2012 at 11:14 AM.
#9
Old 12-20-2012, 11:24 AM
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"Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
She would meringue and do the cha-cha..."

Whoops, wrong song, different gender - maybe?

Get that song out of your head!
#10
Old 12-20-2012, 12:32 PM
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My favorite is the one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater - where is it finding these freakish, horned, flying purple cyclopes to eat?
#11
Old 12-20-2012, 02:22 PM
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"Whatever Lola wants . . ."
#12
Old 12-20-2012, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithsb View Post
Whoops, wrong song, different gender - maybe?
"Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
And she drank champagne that tasted just like Coca-Cola
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Old Soho (here)

Better?
#13
Old 12-20-2012, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithsb View Post
"She would meringue and do the cha-cha..."
Actually, she would merengue.
#14
Old 12-20-2012, 03:13 PM
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The Kinks? Huh, learn something new every day.

Why would the Beatles cover a song from the Kinks?
#15
Old 12-20-2012, 03:29 PM
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The story I heard, in a CBC show about "stories behind the songs"... The Kinks boys had gone partying in London. By about 6AM they were leaving a bar and one of the guys noticed that one of the "chicks" they had been partying at the bar with, had a visible five-oclock (or 6AM) shadow that was obvious in the early morning sun while they were waiting for a cab.

So they wrote a song about a poor naive kid ("just left town a week ago") who ends up with a deceptively confusing sort of assertive bar friend. ("couldn't understand, how she walked like a woman but talked like a man...")

Also mentioned was that Billy Idol's "Mony, mony" was based on the massive neon MONY billboard Billy could see from his apartment window in New York. And "White Wedding" was about Billy chiding his kid sister how she could get knocked up by her boyffriend. (Sister and hubby are still together, and Idol's been divorced how many times?)

Last edited by md2000; 12-20-2012 at 03:32 PM.
#16
Old 12-20-2012, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kobayashi View Post
"But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola"
Add this to the "'Excuse me while I kiss this guy..." list for me. I always thought he was singing:

"...but I know what I am and what I am is a man and so was Lola!"

Guess I confused it with what Popeye sings! I never pay close attention to lyrics (I never even realized the whole gender-bending point of the song until my brother pointed it out to me!)
#17
Old 12-20-2012, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sternvogel View Post
Actually, she would merengue.
Albumenist!
#18
Old 12-20-2012, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Also mentioned was that Billy Idol's "Mony, mony" was based on the massive neon MONY billboard Billy could see from his apartment window in New York.
s/Billy Idol/Tommy James/

Last edited by Manduck; 12-20-2012 at 03:45 PM.
#19
Old 12-20-2012, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Manduck View Post
s/Billy Idol/Tommy James/
Doh!
#20
Old 12-20-2012, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sternvogel View Post
Actually, she would merengue.
That's on the single. It was meringue on the albumen version.
#21
Old 12-20-2012, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manduck View Post
That's on the single. It was meringue on the albumen version.
Good one!
#22
Old 12-20-2012, 05:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
The Kinks? Huh, learn something new every day.

Why would the Beatles cover a song from the Kinks?
The Beatles did "Lola?"
#23
Old 12-20-2012, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Add this to the "'Excuse me while I kiss this guy..." list for me. I always thought he was singing:

"...but I know what I am and what I am is a man and so was Lola!"

Guess I confused it with what Popeye sings! I never pay close attention to lyrics (I never even realized the whole gender-bending point of the song until my brother pointed it out to me!)
I got "I know what I am, I'm a man, I'm a man, and so was Lola", so no ambiguity here.
#24
Old 12-20-2012, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi View Post
I got "I know what I am, I'm a man, I'm a man, and so was Lola", so no ambiguity here.
No, but those aren't the lyrics so it don't matter much.
#25
Old 12-20-2012, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by purplehorseshoe View Post
The Beatles did "Lola?"
Never mind. I'm retarded. After a little google research I see I'm not the only one who thought the beatles sang lola.
#26
Old 12-20-2012, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
Never mind. I'm retarded. After a little google research I see I'm not the only one who thought the beatles sang lola.
Heh...the thing that amazes me about even the possibility of thinking that is that the song doesn't sound ANYTHING like the Beatles, in any of their musical periods.
#27
Old 12-20-2012, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Shakes View Post
Never mind. I'm retarded. After a little google research I see I'm not the only one who thought the beatles sang lola.
It is, it is from the period when Eric Clapton joined them for vocals and competitive dominoes tournaments.
#28
Old 12-20-2012, 07:43 PM
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Songs do better in Cafe Society rather than GQ. MOved.

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#29
Old 12-20-2012, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
No, but those aren't the lyrics so it don't matter much.
Thanks. But seriously, I didn't think any ambiguity was intended. A naive guy meets a person who walks like a woman but talks like a man, and by the end reveals it was a man.
#30
Old 12-20-2012, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kobayashi View Post
We all know The Kinks song Lola, right? Well, the rest of the song makes it obvious that Lola is packing some serious swinging heat, but at the end of the song there's the line:
"But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola"

From strictly grammatical perspective does that line mean that Lola is also glad that the speaker is a man, or that Lola is also man?
It could mean either, or even that the speaker is glad that he and Lola are both men. The line was intended to be somewhat ambiguous, although the rest of the lyrics make it pretty clear that Lola is a man. (IMHO the more interesting ambiguity is whether the narrator is pleased about this or not. He does tell us that he'd "never ever kissed a woman before".)

In everyday speech I think the construction "I'm glad I'm X, and so's Lola" would more commonly be used to mean "Lola and I are both glad that I'm X", but the narrator of this song is telling a story and not just making a casual remark. It makes sense that the narrator would save the revelation of Lola's sex for the end. Phrasing it in an ambiguous way also helps put the listener in the same frame of mind as the narrator was -- "Wait, so Lola's a man?"
#31
Old 12-20-2012, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi View Post
Thanks. But seriously, I didn't think any ambiguity was intended. A naive guy meets a person who walks like a woman but talks like a man, and by the end reveals it was a man.
This essentially says that Ray Davies, instead of being the cleverest and wittiest songwriter of his peers - an exceptionally clever and witty lot - was an idiot. He wasn't.

But it really doesn't matter, because you got the lyrics wrong. We know what the correct lyrics are: they're in the OP. Everybody's known them for a full 40 years except for you. Everybody else understands that the real lyrics were intended to have exactly the ambiguity that we're talking about and it's that extra bit of wit that makes the song so great.

Me, I like wit.
#32
Old 12-20-2012, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
It could mean either, or even that the speaker is glad that he and Lola are both men. The line was intended to be somewhat ambiguous, although the rest of the lyrics make it pretty clear that Lola is a man. (IMHO the more interesting ambiguity is whether the narrator is pleased about this or not. He does tell us that he'd "never ever kissed a woman before".)
He does go on to say "that's the way I want it to stay, and I always want it to be that way". I think there that he's referring to the moment just before the big reveal, but it's not clear.
#33
Old 12-20-2012, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi View Post
I got "I know what I am, I'm a man, I'm a man, and so was Lola", so no ambiguity here.
That's a mondogreen for me too, because I always thought that was the lyric. A look at some lyrics sites and closer listen to the song, and I'm wrong.
#34
Old 12-20-2012, 09:22 PM
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This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems. It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
#35
Old 12-20-2012, 09:29 PM
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Back in the day, Ray was kinda kryptic when asked about the song. He said it was inspired by two separate incidents. "Probably I wanted the incident to happen and kind of stage-managed it. I put two people through that incident, and I was one of them."

ps: Part One: Lola vs Powerman and the Moneygoround is a great, great album.
#36
Old 12-20-2012, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems. It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
Nah, it's both a time and a place. People use places to refer to times they are there, all the time, particularly for places that were regularly returned to. "At work." "In New York." "At the beach."
#37
Old 12-20-2012, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems. It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
He only feels all right during those times when he is by your side. It's both a time and a place.
#38
Old 12-20-2012, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems. It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
Rock and Roll developed in part as a reaction against elitist attitudes such as yours.

Keep up the good work.
#39
Old 12-20-2012, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post

Also mentioned was that Billy Idol's "Mony, mony" was based on the massive neon MONY billboard Billy could see from his apartment window in New York.
As mentioned earlier, Tommy James was the correct writer of the song. James said in an interview that if he had looked out the other window, the song might have been called "Hotel Taft."
#40
Old 12-20-2012, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
As mentioned earlier, Tommy James was the correct writer of the song. James said in an interview that if he had looked out the other window, the song might have been called "Hotel Taft."
And if he had written it on a real computer rather than a sham Dell...
#41
Old 12-21-2012, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems. It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
Nope. It is a standard grammatical usage called the ellipses.

Quote:
1.
Grammar .
a.
the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words that would complete or clarify the construction, as the omission of who are, while I am, or while we are from I like to interview people sitting down.

b.
the omission of one or more items from a construction in order to avoid repeating the identical or equivalent items that are in a preceding or following construction, as the omission of been to Paris from the second clause of I've been to Paris, but they haven't.
In this case, the full sentence would be something like, "The only time I feel alright is the time during which I'm by your side."

You flunked pedanticism.
#42
Old 12-21-2012, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
This essentially says that Ray Davies, instead of being the cleverest and wittiest songwriter of his peers - an exceptionally clever and witty lot - was an idiot. He wasn't.

But it really doesn't matter, because you got the lyrics wrong. We know what the correct lyrics are: they're in the OP. Everybody's known them for a full 40 years except for you. Everybody else understands that the real lyrics were intended to have exactly the ambiguity that we're talking about and it's that extra bit of wit that makes the song so great.

Me, I like wit.
Jeez. When did I say the song was idiotic?
#43
Old 12-21-2012, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
You flunked pedanticism.
Pedantry.
#44
Old 12-21-2012, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Malacandra View Post
Pedantry.
Pedanticism is the name of the course.
#45
Old 12-21-2012, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
Heh...the thing that amazes me about even the possibility of thinking that is that the song doesn't sound ANYTHING like the Beatles, in any of their musical periods.
Well it does sound a bit like their "For Your Love" or "Happy Together" periods.
#46
Old 12-21-2012, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
This is not the worst of the Kink's grammar problems.
The quoted lyric in the OP is not a "grammar problem." It is intentionally ambiguous. That's the whole point.

Quote:
It always burns me up when I hear:

"The only time I feel alright is by your siiiiiide."

That's not a time. That's a place. Either make it "the only place I feel alright is by your side" or "the only time I feel alright is when I'm by your side."
Other than the fact that there is nothing wrong with a more expansive understanding of the word "time" (as others have mentioned), both your versions also ruin the poetry of the line. "Time" sounds much better with the continuing assonance in that line (time/I//by/side) and "place" sounds, to me, out of place as a substitution. Your second version throws the meter off. It's just right as is.

Last edited by pulykamell; 12-21-2012 at 01:30 PM.
#47
Old 12-21-2012, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Back in the day, Ray was kinda kryptic when asked about the song. He said it was inspired by two separate incidents. "Probably I wanted the incident to happen and kind of stage-managed it. I put two people through that incident, and I was one of them."

ps: Part One: Lola vs Powerman and the Moneygoround is a great, great album.
On the Sleepwalker Albumn, I believe in the song Life on the Road, which sure sounds autobiographical and non ambiguous Contains these lines:

I was standing with the punks in Praed StreetWhen a muscle man came my wayHe said, "Hey, are you gay? Can you come out and play?"And like a fool, I went and said, "Okay"

It's a great song. Sleepwalker was the album I discovered the Kinks, and I would rank it up there in the running with Lola vs Powerman.
#48
Old 12-21-2012, 09:16 PM
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Impossible to tell without knowing the punctuation, so unless Victor Borge covered it, we'll never know.
#49
Old 12-21-2012, 09:48 PM
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English dopers or maybe just a muswell hillbilly, what does "standing with the punk in Praed Street" mean?
#50
Old 12-21-2012, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
English dopers or maybe just a muswell hillbilly, what does "standing with the punk in Praed Street" mean?
I'm not English, but Praed Street is a street in London and "standing with the punks" presumably means he was standing near some punks. I don't know if Praed Street was particularly known as a punk hangout or anything.
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