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I'm asking this question because of a song lyric that I'm trying to make sense of:

Lean my direction and mercy your ears

Obviously, lyrics often do not follow the rules of grammar, and are open to interpretation. I'm not looking for literary analysis or attempts to parse the metaphorical meaning of the song, I'm just trying to decide how the word 'mercy' should be interpreted in that sentence.

I did a little research by looking at definition of the word mercy, and seeing if any included a verb version, but was unable to find such a thing. I did however find a blog post about a bible translation saying that 'mercy' was used to translate a greek phrase that contained a verb for mercy, rather than a noun.

Question

So, can 'mercy' be used as a verb? Looks like not, so how would you interpret it being used as such? Perhaps insights from other languages might be useful?

In other words, what does the imperative "mercy your ears" mean?


Full lyrics of The Ayes Have It by Big Business, without repeats:

while you were sleeping
been doing some thinking
everyone's taken a side
the ayes all and any
the nays half as many
there's plans to put a break in your stride

became crystal clear
when we cracked the veneer
that nobody wanted us here
we're out of the habit
instead chasing rabbits
goddamn it it's not how we planned it
sound the alarm

we don't want to find out

lean my direction and mercy your ears
not sure I could make it more perfectly clear

  • 1
    If I had to guess, it sounds like it's probably a riff on lend me your ears. – Ian MacDonald Mar 4 '15 at 21:00
  • OED lists the verb mercy = to thank (cf French merci = thank you), so perhaps it's supposed to mean Lean in and listen to me - it'll be so good you'll thank your ears. But I've never come across the usage, and OED says it's obsolete anyway, so I doubt that. – FumbleFingers Mar 4 '15 at 21:13
  • @IanMacDonald That's what I thought he was saying when I first heard it, but then I looked up the official lyrics and listened more closely, and he's definitely saying 'mercy'. Since "mercy" has the same number of syllables as "lend me" and "lend me" would sound just fine there, I'm figuring that he must intend a different meaning. Otherwise, why not just use "lend me"? – DCShannon Mar 4 '15 at 21:17
  • @FumbleFingers That's plausible. I was thinking maybe it was something like that, like maybe mercying your ears is giving them mercy, in which case what you're hearing would need to be rather beneficial. – DCShannon Mar 4 '15 at 21:18
  • @DCShannon: Or it could be used in the sense of thank you for [lending me your ears]. But I've upvoted Ian's comment myself, 'cos I think it's unlikely the lyricist for a Heavy/Sludge Metal band would be doing anything particularly complicated or meaningful at the level of language. – FumbleFingers Mar 4 '15 at 21:28
1

After reading everyone's thoughts in comments and looking the whole thing over again, I think that

mercy your ears

is intended to mean

have mercy on your ears

or

give mercy to your ears

I think this makes sense in context, as the song has multiple references to arguing parties: the 'ayes' and the 'nays'. So I think the phrase is intended to indicate that listening to the speaker will be merciful for your ears when compared to listening to the arguing.

I feel like the song is probably a commentary on political posturing and arguing.

-1

I have listened to the song a number of times here:

http://www.last.fm/music/Big+Business/_/Ayes+Have+It

and I'm absolutely certain he's not singing "mercy your ears". It sounds like an F sound in there, or a "V". "Move to your ears" or "Murphy your ears" is closer than "mercy your ears". Possibly "prove to your ears"?

Where have you got the lyrics from? You should know that lyrics websites are notoriously inaccurate. I've even found a band's own official website to have inaccurate lyrics.

  • The lyrics are from the packaging that came with the CD. I've gone over the lyrics, and they're almost 100% correct. I double-checked after you posted this, and he's saying 'mercy'. I then went and listened to the recording on last.fm, and it actually does kind of sound like 'murphy' there. I think it's a poor copy. I definitely appreciate the effort, though. – DCShannon Mar 6 '15 at 5:57
  • Like I said, I can show you examples of the official lyrics of a song from the band's official website being completely wrong. Unless you get a chance to speak to the guy who wrote/sings the song yourself, you can't be sure what the words are. Do the band have an email address? A Facebook page or something like that? I would suggest all our efforts to make "mercy your ears" make sense are being wasted at this point. – AmbroseChapel Mar 13 '15 at 1:14
  • You don't need to show me examples, I'm aware that such things happen. I used to have a website that hosted lyrics transcriptions, and I have plenty of experience correcting official lyrics. There's no reason to think that he's not saying 'mercy', except for the version you listened to on last.fm. On the actual album it's pretty clear that he's saying mercy, corroborating the official lyrics. – DCShannon Mar 13 '15 at 1:40
  • Keep in mind that "mercy your ears" is an old idiom, at least in parts of the southeast US. I've not heard it enough to discern it's meaning, though. – Hot Licks Dec 1 '15 at 14:16
  • '"mercy your ears" is an old idiom, at least in parts of the southeast US' -- have you got a source for this? – AmbroseChapel Dec 2 '15 at 3:48

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