Miley, Sufjan and the Present Perfect Continuous

Jason Micheli —  October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

1280px-Sufjan_Stevens_playing_banjoPraise be to the Lord of Hosts, I’m old enough to have avoided the Miley Cyrus career arc from Disney ingenue to Madonna wannabe. The New Kids on the Block were enough for me- to think, I actually got made fun of in the 7th grade for NOT going to the New Kids’ concert at the Richmond Coliseum. Look who’s the loser now.

If age is not the reason I’ve avoided Miley Cyrus then certainly it’s because I’m a music fan.

Anyways, I’ve passed the last few weeks, like you probably, going from somebody who previously was only semi-conscious that someone named Miley Cyrus existed to somebody feeling as though I’m SUPPOSED to feel righteously indignant over what Miley Cyrus is doing to the morals of America.

Or, it’s never said, what the music industry does to the morals of America by demoralizing people like Miley Cyrus. miley_cyrus_wrecking_ball

A couple of weeks ago Sinead O’Connor wrote a maternal letter to Miley Cyrus that made news for days. Apparently the chanteuse of ‘Nothing Compares to You’ felt empowered to draw plenty of comparisons between Miley and her own young self.

This week Sufjan Stevens, a (sometimes, quasi Christian) musician with more talent in his upper mandible than either Sinead or Miley possess in toto, wrote this hilarious letter of his own to Cyrus:

Dear Miley. I can’t stop listening to #GetItRight (great song, great message, great body), but maybe you need a quick grammar lesson. One particular line causes concern: “I been laying in this bed all night long.” Miley, technically speaking, you’ve been LYING, not LAYING, an irregular verb form that should only be used when there’s an object, i.e. “I been laying my tired booty on this bed all night long.”

Whatever. I’m not the best lyricist, but you know what I mean. #Get It Right The Next Time. But don’t worry, even Faulkner messed it up. We all make mistakes, and surely this isn’t your worst misdemeanor. But also, Miley, did you know the tense here is also totally wrong.

Surely you’ve heard ofPresent Perfect Continuous Tense (I HAVE BEEN LYING in this bed all night long [hopefully getting some beauty sleep?]). It’s a weird, equivocal, almost purgatorial tense, not quite present, not quite past, not quite here, not quite there. Somewhere in between. I feel that way all the time. It kind of sucks.

But I have a feeling your “present perfect continuous” involves a lot more excitement than mine. Anyway, doesn’t that also sum up your career right now? Present. Perfect. Continuous. And Tense. Intense? Girl, you work it like Mike Tyson. Miley, I love you because you’re the Queen, grammatically and anatomically speaking. And you’re the hottest cake in the pan. Don’t ever grow old. Live brightly before your fire fades into total darkness. XXOO Sufjan


Jason Micheli


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