Main Second Person Narration Discussion

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newtonthenewt
Topic
11:40:29 PM Dec 9th 2010
edited by newtonthenewt
Should music even be included on this page? Second person narration is much more common in music...
DevilsAdvocate
03:01:01 PM Jan 27th 2011
Actually, I'd say it's much less common in music, and many if not all of the music examples currently listed don't use this trope. The key word being narration. Sure, second person in and of itself is common in music. But it's only second person narration if "you" refers to the character who is singing. In songs such as "You're So Vain" and "You're So Gay" and probably many if not all of the other examples under music, the "you" is the character being sung to, not the character who is singing, and thus, fails to qualify as second person narration. The trope is not merely any work that uses second person at any point.
DevilsAdvocate
05:14:09 AM Jan 28th 2011
In fact, I'd say that, with very very few exceptions, any song whose lyrics include both first-person and second-person pronouns ("You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you," "You are so beautiful to me," "You say goodbye, and I say hello," etc., ad infinitum) is not second-person narration, as it's generally reasonable to infer that "I" is the character singing and "you" are the character being sung to.

Even in songs that use second-person pronouns and do not use any first-person pronouns, they still have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether "you" are the singer or the "singee." Only the former would be second-person narration.
DevilsAdvocate
10:33:25 PM Feb 8th 2011
Of the songs currently listed in the "music" section, I'd say only "Creepy Doll," "Ballad of a Thin Man," the third part of "Disgustipated," and "Fifteen" qualify as second person narration. The others may use second person pronouns a lot but that doesn't make it second person narration.
SevenSapiens
04:47:17 PM Mar 21st 2015
edited by SevenSapiens
““But it's only second person narration if "you" refers to the character who is singing””

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense. At all. “You” can not, by definition, be referring to the person who is singing. It always refers to the person the song is being sung to. Think of Creepy Doll, by Jonathan Coulton (which is one of my favorite songs by the way). Jonathan Coulton himself is not the main character in the story. It is YOU, the person listening to the song. YOU are the main character. There is no way “you” can refer to the singer, that’s absurd.

That is what I think you mean. It is only second person narrative if “you” refers to the main character in the story the song is telling. But that’s not quite true either. When the song is a message from a person to another, it does not mean it is not second person narrative. It only means that it is both first and second person. It can be primarily first or primarily second person, but it is still both.

Think of a story that starts with “As you enter the cave, I can’t help but feel sorry for you.” Okay, granted, it is a terrible starting line, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is: it clearly qualifies as second person narrative. If you’re still not convinced, I should note that the article about second person narrative in Wikipedia says that second person narrative is very common in musical lyrics. And it is. If you consider only songs that tell a story, it is at least as common as first person narrative, if not more, while third person’s almost inexistent.

What should be said on the main page is that only songs that tell a story where “you” refers to a character in it should count as example. The “character” who is singing is the narrator, not the person “you” refers to.

P.S.: Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m replying to a 4-year-old comment. Well, I only saw it now.
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