Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lyrical Lapse - A Grammar Lesson in Song Lyrics

I'm a fan of the Silversun Pickups.  Because I bought their albums Carnavas and Pikul through iTunes, I had no liner notes and therefore was not privy to the lyrics of their songs.  Just moments ago, I was listening to their song "Common Reactor" and wondered what kind of girl Brian Aubert was singing about in the second verse.  A quick Google search led me to the website, where I found the lyrics to the song in question.  So, here's the second verse:

"it's the colorless picture
in a heart shaped frame
the silhouette of a dough eyed girl
who at one point had a name"

Forget, for a moment, that there should be hyphens between heart and shaped and dough and eyed because that's not the real issue here.  I laughed out loud when I saw the phrase dough eyed girl because I pictured a girl with pizza dough dripping from beneath her eyebrows.  No, I thought the lyrics should have read doe-eyed girl, meaning this girl was naive or had the large eyes of a baby deer.  

I assumed that made this mistake between the two homophones.  (Homophones, as we all know, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and usually different spellings.)  Then I decided to browse through the official website of the Silversun Pickups, and a brief glance at their lyrics tab revealed the same thing as the lyrics website:  dough eyed girl.  

I was going to use this blog entry as a way to lambaste both the band and lyricsmania, but something told me to investigate further.  Imagine my embarrassment when I discovered that dough-eyed is an actual term, albeit a slang one.  According to, dough-eyed refers to women who "hang around [a wealthy man], be he attractive or not, looking to marry him for his money."  So, it's another term for golddigger.  Incidentally, the term dough-eyed does not appear in my standard dictionaries, real or virtual.

Before I apologize to the Silversun Pickups and to, I wonder which interpretation the band intended when describing the girl in "Common Reactor."  If the band was singing about a girl who was after a man for his money, then yes, she was indeed dough-eyed.  But if she was an all-too-trusting girl with an innocent, wide-eyed look on her face, then the term doe-eyed should have been used.  With a hyphen.

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