Crosby,Stills,N&Y:"Teach your children"--why does it say "they pickS"?

it’s a classic anthem of a generation–“Teach your children well” by Crosby Stills Nash and Young. A song that mixes some hippie angst with some hope for the future.

So it’s a pretty good song… But ruined by TERRIBLE grammar!

“Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by”

Huh? why did they stick that S on the verb? An intelligent person (like all of us Dopers :slight_smile: ) would say “they pick”, right?

I mean,like, ya know, the English language got rules and stuff.People speaks normal. They says so all the time. They eats lunch. They sings songs, they writes music, they reads books, they picks their dreams.

Why did good songwriters decide to act like illiterate hillbillies for one word?
It just don’t make no sense, no way.

Is there any rational explanation for that “S”?

I believe it’s either “pick’s” or very well could be “picked”. Would that make things better?

I thought it was
*“the one they pick, (i)s the one you’ll know by” *
with the ‘i’ muffled to keep the meter of the song going (and of course with ‘them’ omitted after ‘know’)

Wow, Quercus! I believe you nailed it! I’ve always wondered about that, too. To the point that I made myself say “fix” - as in “fix on”, just so my brain could deal with the grammar. It still sounds wrong, though. :wink:

“The one they pick the one you’ll know by”? Huh? That missing a verb!

Thanks! This is the only idea that might explain my question.
The only problem with it is that it’s not true, methinks. :frowning:

I no longer have my vinyl disc of “Deja Vu”, but I’m pretty sure the lyrics were printed inside like this:

“…
That you can live by
And so
Become yourself
Because the past
Is just a good-bye
Teach you children well
Your father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you’ll know by
Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you”
So it’s not only awkward grammar, it looks awkward, too. !

No, not really. It’s good grammar to say for example :“this is the gift I pick for you, the one you’ll remember me by”. No verb needed. But a comma sure helps.

Perhaps what they wanted everyone to teach well to their children is math.

[QUOTE=chappachula]
Thanks! This is the only idea that might explain my question.
The only problem with it is that it’s not true, methinks. :frowning:

I no longer have my vinyl disc of “Deja Vu”, but I’m pretty sure the lyrics were printed inside like this:

"…

Teach you children well
Your father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you’ll know by
No, I think Quercus is right…mainly because that’s how I’ve always thought about it!.. and when the lyrics are written down, that’s how it gets written because that’s how it sounds. A bit of poetic/literary license.

“Feed them on your dreams”?

I thought it was “Beat them on their knees” The whole song makes a lot more sense, now.

Lyrics printed in liner notes should always be taken with a grain of salt.
A missing apostrophe is far from the worst discrepancy I’ve seen.

Because of the importance of this thread, I was forced to renew my membership to the SDMB just so I could report to you the findings of my research.

Googling on:

“teach your children” lyrics “the one they” = 1,180 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they pick” = 119 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they picks” = 606 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they pick’s” = 57 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they picked” = 223 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they fixed” = 1 hits
“teach your children” lyrics “the one they fix” = 126 hits

So there you have it. No one seems to know for sure.

If anyone really cares, I thought I’d post the answer to the issue this thread is about. I, too, wondered about “picks” so I went back and listened to an old acoustic concert on you tube to see if I could hear the lyrics any better. I could. He clearly sings this:

…they one they pick,
Is the one you’ll know by.

Here is the link to the concert:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kivcI6OFLP8

I learned this recently in another thread here and once it was explained it was a giant :smack: . I cannot believe I didn’t figure out the contraction of “pick is”. Of course, lots of other people didn’t either so I don’t feel too bad.

Now if I could only get the definitive answer on the *Live and Let Die * lyrics. I’d always heard / assumed the line was "but if this ever changing world in which we’re livin’ ", but then several people have pointed out how clunky “in which we live in” is and I thought they must be wrong until I looked up the lyrics. Of course it was just one of those on-line sites that I assume any numpty can submit lyrics to so they might be incorrect also.

While we’re on the topic of this song, I always thought the lines

You
Out on the road
Must have a code

were them saying “You must have a cold”, you know, because you’re out on the road and probably got sick, but they were saying it like a person with a cold would, code.

Not true, come to find out.

I never heard an s. I hear it as “The one they pick; the one you’ll know by.”

A little awkward, but I think the second half means “the one you’ll know them by” with “them” cut to fit the rhythm.

Wiki, FWIW -

Next up - why is it necessary to inform us (in Horse With No Name) that

“…the one they pick,
Is the one you’ll know by.”

I have trouble, not with picks/pick’s, but with the next line. “You will be able to tell which dream they pick, because it’s the one they pick.” Also not terribly insightful or informative.

Oh well. It rhymes and scans and sounds sort of profound. Heck, it was 1970. Everything sounds profound if you have been smoking a little something.

Regards,
Shodan

I think it’s more the idea that parents and children need to understand the dreams that each chooses in their lives and accept it.

It’s unmistakable on the live version on 4-Way Street.

Their father’s hell?? I always thought it was health. Why would it be hell?

Despite any potential substances, I think if anything was wrong with the lyrics in this song it would be that they’re too carefully literary - when punctuation matters this much in song lyrics, people are going to misunderstand.

My problem came with

Don’t you ever ask them why -
If they told you, you would cry.
When I heard this, I didn’t hear the comma. Because it’s hard to sing a comma. :slight_smile:

And so I thought, paraphrasing: “If they have told you that you would cry, then you must never ask them why. Otherwise, feel free to ask.”