Learned Vol. 2, Issue 5
I sit here by myself, and you know I love it
You know I don't want someone, to come pay a visit
I wanna be by myself, I came in this world alone
Me myself I
That's the opening verse to Joan Armatrading's 1980 song, Me, Myself, I. And, aside from just being a great song, it's notable to me because of how it uses that particular idiom. See, as a kid, I had a different conception of me, myself, and I, and it came from an altogether different song: De La Soul's 1989 hit...Me, Myself And I.
Mirror mirror on the wall, tell me mirror, what is wrong?
Can it be my De La Clothes or is it just my De La Soul?
What I do ain't make-believe, people say I sit and try
But when it comes to being De La, it's just me myself and I
In De La's song, two of the three members of the group take turns expounding on what it means to be "De La Soul," all of them coming to the conclusion that it is presenting themselves as themselves without artifice or hype. In other words, they are just being who they are and they don't need anyone else's opinion or words to define who they are.
But contrast that with the first set of lyrics and you get a different definition of me, myself, and I - someone who wants to be alone, someone who likes spending time by themselves.
I didn't know Joan Armatrading's song during the years it was on MTV and VH1. In fact, I only found it earlier this year, on YouTube. Even then, I didn't find the original. Instead, I saw a clip of Ms. Armatrading performing live on Later...with Jools Holland. It's a great performance and I immediately searched out every version of the song I could find, but that's not actually my point.
My point is that when I was a kid, I really identified with De La's definition - I wanted to be an individual who didn't need either permission or affirmation to like what I liked, to dress how I dressed, or to talk how I talked. Of course, life being what it is, things were never quite that easy, and like everyone, I made compromises and questionable choices and occasionally managed to be myself in spite of them.
It's somewhat ironic then, that I found this new (to me) definition while watching YouTube, something I usually do by myself, when I want to retreat from the world a bit. As adults, we're all bombarded by the demands of work and family and society from the minute we wake up until the minute we manage to push the black mirrors away from our faces and sleep. And finding just a few minutes to be quiet, to be alone, can be difficult.
(There is, of course, the opposite problem - finding people when you no longer want to be alone, but that's a topic for a different day.)
I'm part of the MTV Generation. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, downtime was filled with the ever-present, always changing yet somehow always the same, rotation of music videos. Coming home from school and turning on MTV or, later, VH1, while waiting for dinner, or putting off doing homework became the default setting for my high school years.
And, now, well, the pattern repeats. Coming home, turning on a playlist and leaving it running while I straighten up the house or fold laundry or put off doing my homework is no different now than it was then. It's only the delivery method that has changed.
Well, the delivery method and the company. That coming home and turning on MTV routine, that was done in company. My friends would come to my house, or I'd go to theirs. Girlfriends and casual friends would appear and disappear from the group. Siblings would intrude, parents would disrupt, but it was always a group thing.
YouTube? Not so much. Not for me anyway. Although I'll admit that I'm curious if younger people, the people in the YouTube generation, watch these videos with their friends I prefer to hang out by myself, drinking and watching in the dark, just me, myself, and I.
“Me, Myself, and I”
Only me; myself alone.
The only origin I can find for the phrase is through Wikipedia’s Disambiguation page which leads to this: Me, Myself, and I (Are All In Love with You), written by Irving Gordon, Allan Roberts, and Alvin S. Kaufman and performed by Billie Holiday (among others,) which suggests that it was a popular phrase before that, but one whose definitive origin has been lost to time.
Notable Events of the Year 1980
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The Oxford Comma
Me, myself, and I, or, me, myself and I? That comma after myself in the first iteration of the phrase is called the Oxford Comma:
We sell books, videos, and magazines.
There is some…debate…over whether it should be used:
It ought to come as no surprise to anyone who reads anything I write - I’m all in on the Oxford Comma. A list is defined by its cohesiveness and adding in the final comma before and delineates that the item after and is, in fact, the final item and not an addition to the previous item. It can best be summed up by in the joke from which a famous (and one of my favorite) style guide takes its name:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"Well, I'm a panda," he says. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."
Next Time: To Reign in Hell. That’s it. Stay strong, stay curious. Learn something.