Monday, March 5, 2007

groove vs. rut

Have you ever noticed that it isn't such a bad thing to get in a groove, but you should avoid at all costs being in a rut? These two words are relatively similar, but their differences in connotation are pretty vast. A groove can guide you, while a rut restrains you.

It certainly helps that in music, a groove is definitely a positve thing. LPs have grooves, within which you would defintely want your needle to remain. And that rhythmic interplay between the bass player and the drummer is a groove. (I have no idea if these two musical notions are related.) Years ago, Madonna encouraged the "Boy" to whom she was singing to "get into the groove" so that he might prove his love to her. If he did so properly, he could live out his fantasies with her. The groove could guide you to your reward. Guy Ritchie could probably provide more information on this. I suppose a host of others could as well. At this point I will refrain from any further discussion of Madonna's groove.

John Mellencamp (or was it Cougar?) also had some things to say on the subject of "groovin' "--an activity that I suppose has somethign to do with getting into the groove. In his song "Cherry Bomb", he waxes nostalgic about a time in his youth:

That's when a sport was a sport
And groovin' was groovin'
and dancin meant everything
We were young and we were improvin'

I can't argue with that. I don't really don't think it means anything, though--and maybe that's all the meaning it's supposed to have. What I'm really interested in, though is whether he chose the word "groovin' " to rhyme with "improvin' " or if it was the opposite.

Probably the most ubiquitous form of groove is perhaps epitomized by the Simon and Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)". Or perhaps even better defined by Bruce Campell as Ash in The Evil Dead whereupon strapping a chainsaw to his bloody stump of a wrist, he utters the word "Groovy!". Either way, the word "groovy" seems to imply that the winds of fate have set you upon an irrevocable course, but the expected result is a pleasant one that will lead to peace of mind. (note: If you are wondering how I can relate a trippy-hippy Simon and Garfunkel song to The Evil Dead, just remember: I went to art school. I can relate just about anything to anything.)

Overall, the definitions of groove and the words and phrases to which it has given birth are all pretty positive. And then there's "rut."

I believe rut's problem lies entirely in its sound. Groovy is blessed with "OOH!" in the middle. It just sounds like more fun. Looking at the etymology of each word, rut certainly has the advantage. Groove gets its meaning in Middle English from a Dutch word for furrow or pit, which is related to "Grave". That's hardly pleasant. On the other other hand, rut comes from Old French for "route". What could be more pleasant than a path, except for a path defined by some nice, tasteful shrubbery? It seems that rut has more in common with the benign and gentle guidance of fate implied by groove than groove does.

And let's not forget that other definition of rut. Derived from an Old French word which meant "to roar", the second definition of rut simply implies doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel. And is that so wrong?

So I guess it really all depends on how you look at it. Being in a rut may not be so bad.

Being in a rut may not be so bad.

Being in a rut may not be so bad.

Being in a rut may not be so bad.

Being in a rut may not be so bad.


The Moon Topples said...

You neglected to mention the Rutles, one of the most popular bands from the 60s. They were great.

basest said...

once again, maht, you manage to point out my inadequacies! you are so correct about the Rutles. Imagine if they had been called the "Groovles". Would they have had the same impact on popular music?

Chris said...

On a Sunday afternoon

- The Rascals

basest said...

alright...THAT'S IT!!! I'm going to have to invent a new genre of music and call it rut n' roll! yeah...that's what I'll do...and then i'll show all you groove-happy people what's what!