According to several websites, the lyrics of the song "Papa was a Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations (and, later, George Michael and Phil Collins) include the following line:
"And when he died, all he left us was alone"
To a non-native English speaker like me, both the following sentences would sound perfectly all right:
- "all he left us was one dollar"
- "he left us alone"
However, "all he left us was alone" looks hard to parse, and I am wondering whether this is simply a word play, a poetic license, or a slangy expression. So, is this expression grammatical at all? It's funny to see that many Google searches include "all he left us was a lone" and "all he left us was a loan" (which, I admit, was my first, meaningless understanding when I heard the song for the first time, many years ago...).