December 1, 2012

"People Get Ready."

A fabulous 1965 recording by The Impressions. Don't confuse it with "Get Ready," by The Temptations, which is a completely different song. Some people even confuse The Impressions and The Temptations. "Get Ready," from 1966, was written by Smokey Robinson. (Here's how Smokey did it in 1979.)

As you may have noticed, I got absorbed with the word "get" earlier today. "Let's get out of here" and "You just don't get it, do you?" are 2 famously recurrent lines in movies. In the comments, I was saying:
"Get" — the word in both cliche lines — is a funny word. I've noticed that professional writers -- e.g. lawyers -- will replace the word "get" whenever they can (with seemingly more proper words like "obtain" and "acquire" and "depart" or "arrive"). It's like it's not a regular word. It's so useful we shouldn't use it.
And:
"You just don't get it" is a fascinating phrase. It was huge during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Do you remember? It's used to exert psychological pressure. You're trying to persuade someone that a particular viewpoint is correct, and you're jumping to this level of disgust and disbelief, essentially telling the person that they are dumb and isolated from all the people who already understand. It's not just that you don't agree with me already, you're some kind of outcast.
St. Croix said avoiding the word "get" is "a class thing," and professionals who avoid it are trying to sound "high class," trying "to impress." That made me do a little search to see whether the Supreme Court suppresses the word "get," and found it in only one third of the cases in the past year. Often it was a quote, like "Have you ever tried to get cow s*** out of a Prada purse?" (which is a cute low/high mix). Justice Scalia began a dissenting opinion with: "Let me get this straight..." (which might be taken as a deliberate working-class affectation). I'm seeing the word used in colloquial phrases like "get around," "get it backwards," and "get it right." Following natural speech patterns, "get" would appear much more frequently, so I say there's active suppression.

I ran across the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. sentence about free speech and the marketplace of ideas:
"But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out."
Imagine what the standard present-day legal editor would do to that sentence: the best test of truth is the power of the thought to gain acceptance in the competition of the market. (The editor would also try to purge the passive voice by fiddling around with the subject — maybe it should be "competition" — toying with the notion of making "test" the verb, and fretting over whether "test" and "market" amount to a mixed metaphor.)

Lawyers and judges just don't get that "get" is a fine word that shouldn't be replaced by boring longer words. When it comes up naturally, as you'd use it in speech, that's where it belongs. It feels natural because it's won in the marketplace of people talking to each other over the centuries, carrying out their affairs in real time. "Got" is true.

As I said, I got — got! — absorbed in the word "get" today, and I got — got! — interested in figuring what's the best song with the word "get." A marketplace of "get" songs. "People Get Ready" won. (Look at how many cover versions there are!) Other contenders — in addition to the above-mentioned "Get Ready" — are: "I'll Get You"/"Get Back"/"Getting Better"/"Got to Get You Into My Life" (The Beatles), "Get It While You Can" (Janis Joplin), "Get Off of My Cloud" (The Rolling Stones), "Get on the Floor" (Michael Jackson), "I Get Around" (The Beach Boys); "Can I Get a Witness" (Marvin Gaye), "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (The Animals).... That's just stuff easily picked from my 1960s-leaning iPod.

My point is: What a hard, sharp word! Use it.

(And: "People Get Ready" = sublime.)

108 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

I love that Impressions song.

"You just don't get it" is a fascinating phrase.

It shows up a lot in lousy movie/TV scripts.

chickelit said...

Memories are fading fast but Gettelman Beer used to advertize using the slogan Get Get Gettelmanin Wisconsin.

Older M'waukeans will back me up on that.

Chip S. said...

Yo la tengo.

rhhardin said...

Get is a dynamic conclusive verb that puts an emphasis on the subject (rather than an agent) and what happens to him.

chickelit said...

Don't forget beget!

LordSomber said...

Curse Sir Walter Raleigh...

gutless said...

Neither forget the snappy and always appropriate, Get Hosed.

TA said...

"Get real." "Get serious." "Get lost." "Get fucked."

What would we do without it?

Baron Zemo said...

Get Shorty.

Bob Ellison said...

I associate the lyrics "can I get a witness" with Grand Funk Railroad's Some Kind of Wonderful". Marvin Gaye's use of the expression is somewhat less interesting, but it's interesting to note that he was (I think) an uncommonly handsome man, in addition to being a great musician.

David said...

"Good get."

In the law world, that meant catching someone's mistake before it became embarrassing or consequential. The phrase "good get" was part compliment and part thanks. I heard it many times from others and said it many times to others.

The beauty of the phrase was its simplicity. We did not feel lower class when we said it.

Baron Zemo said...

Mayim Bialik just told her rabbi to get a Get.

Get it?

EDH said...

Get Down Make Love

Get down make love
Get down make love
Get down make love
Get down make love

You take my body
I give you heat
You say you're hungry
I give you meat
I suck your mind
You blow my head
Make love
Inside your bed - everybody

Get down make love
Get down make love
Get down make love
Get down make love

Ev'rytime I get hot
You wanna cool down
Ev'rytime I get high
You say you wanna come down
You say it's enough
In fact it's too much
Ev'rytime I get a
Get down get down get down
Make love

(Get down) I can squeeze - (make love) you can shake me
(Get down) I can feel - (make love) you can break me
(Get down) Come on so heavy (make love)
(Get down) When you take me (make love)
You make love you make love you make love you make
love
You can make ev'rybody get down make love
Get down make love

Ev'rytime I get high
You wanna come down
Ev'rytime I get hot
You say you wanna cool down
You say it's enough
In fact it's too much
Ev'rytime I wanna get down get down get down

David said...

Get real.

Get bent.

Get my my purse, will you please?

I'm going to get you.

Can I get you anything at the store.

Help me get this thing unfastened.

Get laid.

Get religion.

Get thee to a nunnery.

Bob Ellison said...

Nowadays "feel" may be replacing "get". You get me? Ya feel me? Feelin' me?

I've tried to stop using grok. Almost nobody gets or feels it.

LordSomber said...

We use the Anglo-Saxon form of the word when we are blunt, and the Frenchy/Latinate version when we want to sound hoity-toity.

Ann Althouse said...

"Get" as a noun will be the subject of a later post. I just bought John Lennon's n His Own Write" + "Spaniard in the Works" in preparation for this magnum opus.

LordSomber said...

...but in this case, "get" seems to come from Old Norse or Proto-Germanic.

Saint Croix said...

Got milk?

chickelit said...

I was taught growing up that using "got" for "get" was uncouth. For example, in The Kinks old classic: You Really Got Me

SteveR said...

Get a clue

Bob Ellison said...

LordSomber, that's a good point. See here for a popular exposition on Churchill's preference for Germanic-root words.

Then again, there's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" by Jacques Brel. Powerful stuff. He's got a beer there, and no cheese or wine.

SteveR said...

Beautiful song, whoever did the video completely missed the point

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Let's Get It On

David said...

On the same You Tube page linked is a performance of the song by Curtis Mayfield, who wrote it. I think it's even better than the excellent recording of the Impressions at the link.

The photos on the You Tube video are strangely dissonant. People Get Ready is a beautiful gospel song about faith and the need for God. The photos are all about secular dissent.

Gospel! No music is better than great gospel.

McTriumph said...

If in the 60s you couldn't get lucky with your collect of Smokey and Motown "get it on" albums, while your parents were away, getting some sun in Florida, a guy's only alternative was to get a sports car.

yashu said...

The long OED entry is wonderful, as expected.

Etymology: < Old Norse geta (gat , gátum , getenn ) to get, obtain, to beget, also, to guess (Swedish gitta , Danish gide to be able or willing, Middle Swedish gäta , Danish gjette to guess) = Old English -gietan (only in the compounds a- , be- , for- , ofer- , on- , under-gietan : see beget n., forget n.), Old Frisian (ur-, for-)jeta, Old Saxon (bi-, far-)getan (Middle Dutch ver-gheten, Dutch ver-geten), Old High German gez̧z̧an, kez̧z̧an (once in pple. kez̧z̧endi, ‘adeptus’, otherwise only in bi-, int-, ir-, fer-gez̧z̧an; Middle High German er-, ver-gez̧z̧en, modern German ver-gessen), Gothic (bi-)gitan < Germanic *getan, gat-, gêtum, getono-. The Old Aryan root *ghed, *ghod ‘to seize’, ‘take hold of’, is found also in Latin præda ( < *præ-hĕda) booty, prædium an estate, perhaps also in hedera ivy (literally the ‘clinger’); and with inserted nasal in Latin prehendere to catch, lay hold of, Greek χανδάνειν (aorist ἔχαδον) to hold, contain, to be able.

EDH said...

Liza Minnelli,

(Get) While the Getting is Good

ndspinelli said...

"Get Ur Freak On" is a nice wholesome song.

SteveOrr said...

Yeah we aint got no government loans and no one sends us checks from home but get this...we just do what we wanna.

Get Off This

traditionalguy said...

Imo "Get" is from the same word root is gewinnen which is Germanic for to strenuously endeavor/contend in battle and conquer by toil.

The word is a result of wunschen which means a strong desire/wish , and which is all a German needs to fight whatever is in his way.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wyo sis said...

We say git as often as get here in Wyoming where we speak English with no accent whatsoever.

Bob Ellison said...

Louis Armstrong: "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues".

traditionalguy said...

Oh yes, I remember when GWB spoke to the US Military while standing on the WTC wreckage with that borrowed megaphone. He said, "Get Ready, get ready." He thus sounded the teutonic war trumphet of his ancestors.

Bob Ellison said...

"I gotta get going", too. It means more than "I'm going", and "I'm getting going" is pretty much unused. "I have to get going" just doesn't sound as good.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

From the Online Etymology Dictionary

get (v.) Look up get at Dictionary.com
c.1200, from O.N. geta "to obtain, reach; to beget; to guess right" (p.t. gatum, pp. getenn), from P.Gmc. *getan (cf. O.Swed. gissa "to guess," lit. "to try to get"), from PIE root *ghend- "seize, take" (cf. Gk. khandanein "to hold, contain," Lith. godetis "be eager," second element in L. prehendere "to grasp, seize," Welsh gannu "to hold, contain," O.C.S. gadati "to guess, suppose"). Meaning "to seize mentally, grasp" is from 1892.

Old English, as well as Dutch and Frisian, had the root only in compounds (e.g. begietan "to beget," see beget; forgietan "to forget," see forget). Vestiges of O.E. cognate *gietan remain obliquely in pp. gotten and original p.t. gat. The word and phrases built on it take up 29 columns in the OED 2nd edition. Related: Getting.

Get wind of "become acquainted with" is from 1840, from earlier to get wind "to get out, become known" (1722). Get out, as a command to go away, is from 1711. Get-rich-quick (adj.) attested from 1904, first in O. Henry. To get out of hand originally (1765) meant “to advance beyond the need for guidance;” sense of “to break free, run wild” is from 1892, from horses. To get on (someone's) nerves is attested by 1970.
get (n.) Look up get at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "offspring," from get (v.). Meaning "what is got, booty" is from 14c.

wyo sis said...

The British use git as an insult, but we cowboys know it's the preferred pronunciation of get.

Ann Althouse said...

"I was taught growing up that using "got" for "get" was uncouth. For example, in The Kinks old classic: You Really Got Me"

It's not good English. If we go to got, there's "I Got You Babe" and "I Got Rhythm."

Ann Althouse said...

"On the same You Tube page linked is a performance of the song by Curtis Mayfield, who wrote it. I think it's even better than the excellent recording of the Impressions at the link."

It's also Mayfield singing in The Impressions version, but I agree that later performances solo were also great.

Chip S. said...

But I must be going sounds great.

Morgan said...

Oh yeah, "People Get Ready." Love that song. Bob Marley's recording, Rod Stewart's, Phoebe Snow with Ladysmith Black Mambazo:

http://youtu.be/PqRWxsnTZC8

Saint Croix said...

Holy crap I got a tag! Woo-hoo.

Saint Croix said...

Right there after "excrement". Oh man.

Saint Croix said...

And the excrement tag is way more popular.

EDH said...

Can't Get There from Here

When the world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in
Throw your trolls out the door

If you're needing inspiration
Philomath is where I go, I go
Lawyer Jeff he knows the low-down
He's mighty bad to visit home

(chorus)
(I've been there I know the way)
Can't get there from here
(I've been there I know the way)

When your hands are feeling empty
Stickheads jumping off the ground
Tris is sure to shirr the deers out
Brother Ray can sing my song

(I've been there I know the way)
Can't get there from here

Hands down, Calechee bound
Land locked, kiss the ground
The dirt of seven continents going
Round and round
Go on ahead Mr. Citywide
Hypnotized, suit and tied
Gentlemen testify

If your world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Philomath they know the low-down
Throw your trolls out the door

rcommal said...

I like Eva Cassidy's solo version, too.

Honestly, "People Get Ready" is an outstanding example that you really can't hold down a truly great song. It's very soul is to soar.

rcommal said...

Its not it's. Or It is its soul to soar.You know.

chickelit said...

It's not good English.

That sounds like a value judgement. It's not proper English. Leave morals out of it. :)

chickelit said...

@rcommal: It's All Right or is it "It's Alright"? I get confused.

JohnBoy said...

My favorite is "get up with."

We use it in the South to indicate that we'll meet later. As in I'll "get up with" you on that proposal you sent.

Captain Curt said...

The linguist John McWhorter points out the use of "get" in the passive voice, noting that it provides a different sense from the use of the "to be" passive. The "get" passive is more typically used for bad and/or unexpected events:

I got laid off.
I got hurt.
I got schooled.

Captain Curt said...

The linguist John McWhorter points out the use of "get" in the passive voice, noting that it provides a different sense from the use of the "to be" passive. The "get" passive is more typically used for bad and/or unexpected events:

I got laid off.
I got hurt.
I got schooled.

Shane said...

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"

traditionalguy said...

Depending on what the the desired object is, to get it some means to have sex, to kill opponents , or to eat food.

Germans are basic creatures.

In the teen culture they get the romance and the frauline. In war they get kills of the enemies. In feasting they get the prime rib. In football they beat Alabama. The Dawgs are going to get some this afternoon.

Baron Zemo said...

The Rev. Al Green.

Baron Zemo said...

The Rev. Al Green.

rcommal said...

Love the Al Green version, too (but then, I'm generally a fan).

Speaking of artists I find inspiring, Fred Hammond's "When the Spirit of the Lord"text is tingling. I highly, highly recommend his album, "The Spirit of David" (1996), which you can, of course, purchase from Amazon through Althouse's Amazon portal in her masthead.

I have given this as a gift several times and it has always drawn raves, as well it should.

/slight digression

phx said...

One way or another I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha

madAsHell said...

The word is overloaded. It almost seems like a filler word. There is always a better word to replace "get" in a sentence. I think it indicates a lazy mind.

Valentine Smith said...

Time has come today to announce my favorite cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic: The Chambers Brothers with the little mick drummer Brian Keenan. Brought down the Fillmore East every time. Saw all the greats there but none rocked it like the Bros. One of the all-time great forgotten bands.

Everyone covered it. Even Bobby Z recorded it with The Band on the Basement Tapes.

madAsHell said...

I can't get no satisfaction!

phx said...

A Bob Dylan's version of People Get Ready.

He was doing it on his live tour in 1978.


edutcher said...

An old Negro spiritual, as they used to say.

Inga said...

Gonna get me some....

Baron Zemo said...

Curtis Mayfield sings his own song.

Aridog said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Get" as a noun will be the subject of a later post.

Good. Please don't forget the term "get" as in "get of sire" and other uses to refer to animal progeny...most commonly in the horse world. "Get" classes at horse shows refers to the ability of a given sire to reproduce favorable traits.

Chip S. said...

Inga said...
Gonna get me some....

You can't always get what you want.

rcommal said...

Also a longtime (and I mean since the '70s) fan of Phil Keaggy's. HECKUVA guitar player. Strongly recommend his stuff, too. He does a mean contemporary (relatively speaking) version of "John the Revelator," originally an old-timey Gospel classic from 1930.

Alas, full-length albums of his containing this classic aren't available directly from Amazon (though it recommends sellers), but you CAN download an mp3 of his version of "John the Revelator" (I recommend the album one) from Amazon, and you can also get post-2000 albums of his from Amazon.

I tend to prefer the electric guitar Phil Keaggy to the acoustic one, and that is definitely true when it comes to "John the Revelator." That said, here's a pretty nifty live, acoustic [though amplified] performance by him of this song.

Inga said...

Chipper, I already had it, get it? Got it? Good. I just gotta get some more, it was that good.

Aridog said...

phx said...

One way or another I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha ...

Oh, no...cannot let that pass without a video clip of one of the sexiest songs ever.

EMD said...

I've always loved the a capella Housemartins cover.

Palladian said...

GET

Ann Althouse said...

"Get Up, Stand Up"

"I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good"

***

Lord Somber notes "Curse Sir Walter Raleigh..." Yeah, that's why I got the John Lennon books:

"Why don’t yer shut yer gob yer big fat get or I’ll kick yer face in. Yer all the same you rich fat Bourgies, workin’ uz poor workers to death and getting all the gelt and going to France for yer ‘holidays.’"

EMD said...

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

EMD said...

I Got You (I Feel Good)

EMD said...

Get on the Good Foot (And Do the Bad Thing)

EMD said...

I Got the Feelin'

EMD said...

Get Up Offa That Thing

phx said...

Get yer ya yas out.

Chip S. said...

The only title that I can find that hasn't already been posted here is "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo".

What a difference the " 've " makes.

phx said...

Did anyone mention the big lake they call Gitcheegoomie?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

We gots to get.

Chip Ahoy said...

Be a darling and get your Aunt Louise a package of Benson and Hedges out of the freezer, the mentholated 100's, in the freezer, be a darling. The mentholated !, no the green ones! Oh forget it you stupid sunuvabitch I'll get 'em myself.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I gotta do for me and mine.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I gots to do for me and mine.

Inga said...

Is it I forgot? I forget.

phx said...

Get a little give a little

Inga said...

Channeling an Austrian nun, "getting to know you, getting to know all about you"....

NotquiteunBuckley said...

From my understanding "we gots to get" is Alamamian.

We gots to get the Hell outta this place.

LT;ED

Last thing ever do.

Aridog said...

In the spirit of @EMD's list of great songs with "get"...here's my favorite version of I got the music in me by Thelma Houston covering the Kiki Dee classic...but mo' betta. I have the Direct to Disk album and it is almost worn out....I play when I have a shitty attitude as an upper.

Inga said...

He got the clap.

rcommal said...

When I get it right.

Dang. Joan Armatrading's live-performance videos of this from way back in the day are no longer available on YouTube. So I had no choice but to post this lame-o music-vid version from Vimeo. SO disheartening. Quite jarring, that visual interpretation.

But I STILL love, love, love Armatrading's "Walk Under Ladders" album (1981), the import CD version of which is available from Amazon.

rcommal said...

Get Happy

C'mon Get Happy! text (LOL!)

Get Smart


Chip S. said...

Can't we all just get along?

rcommal said...

And, by golly: Waka Flocka Flame "Get Low"

(Language etc.; also probably not NSFW)

Saint Croix said...

I've Got You Under My Skin

wyo sis said...

Whoopie ti yi yo git along little dogie.

Saint Croix said...

"People Get Ready" = sublime

Yeah, but Sublime = What I Got.

And that might have the record for most gots and gets in a song.

Following natural speech patterns, "get" would appear much more frequently, so I say there's active suppression.

Arguably Sublime's most famous song is flooded with "got" and "get" to announce how working class they are!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

traditionalguy said...

In football they beat Alabama. The Dawgs are going to get some this afternoon.

Yeah, the Dawgs got it good and hard.

Roll Tide!

Ignorance is Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McTriumph said...

Bama won, but the Dogs got nothing to be embarrassed about. It was a great game, they don't get much better.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It was a great game. I would not have been too disappointed if Georgia had won, as long as they went on to beat Notre Dame.

I'm a 'bama fan, but I'm also an SEC fan, and would be happy to see any SEC team win the national championship.

phx said...

Well I dunno but I think the Blondie post by Aridog wins the thread.

EMD said...

I'm a 'bama fan, but I'm also an SEC fan, and would be happy to see any SEC team win the national championship.

You've had a rough few years there, huh?

EMD said...

Nebraska must hate Pasadena.

Kirk Parker said...

Valentine,

"One of the all-time great forgotten bands."

But NOT by you or me! I was going to make the same point you did, so thanks for getting there first. Also, "Midnight Hour".

deborah said...

"Get sick, get well
Hang around an ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write Braille
Get jailed, jump bail Join the army, if you failed
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
***
Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success"