Lie Lady Lie and Lie Down Sally

Mike Lynch has a great list going of songs in the subjunctive mood.  And without it, I might never have noticed this one when it turned up on the radio:

Songs that rely on the verb “to lie”, as in become prone, are always a nightmare.  For starters, when you do it, it’s “lie”.  Except, of course, when it’s in the past, in which case you “lay”.  And if it’s done to you, it’s “lay”.  Then there’s the verb to tell an untruth, which is “lie” and – in the past tense – “lied”.

So, this one (Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”) is currently:

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world

As far as I can tell, that should be:

If I lie here
If I just lie here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world

He can’t be thinking about a time in the past, can he?  A time when he lay?  Because that wouldn’t make sense when he asks the other to lie with him –  it’s too late.  Does he mean “If I had lain here?”

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe the singer wants to lay someone else while the person addressed lies with him?  If he were laying the person addressed he wouldn’t need to ask would he?  Or maybe he wants to lay someone else while the person addressed tells an untruth, at the same time as he tells an untruth?

I can only agree with all the comments by those who love this song –  it really is full of, like, so much meaning, you know?  I’m buggered if I can figure out what that meaning is, but maybe I’m all, like, emotionally closed off and stuff.

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