Sufjan Stevens’ Open Letter To Miley Cyrus

Stevens: "Surely you’ve heard of Present Perfect Continuous Tense"

Following Sinead O’Connor’s missives to Miley Cyrus, Sufjan Stevens has penned his own open letter to the pop singer. It seems that as well as being a geography and history boff, Stevens is a bit of a language ace, so much so that he couldn’t resist making a few observations about Cyrus’ sketchy grammar in her hit ‘Get It Right’ in a post on his blog (via Stereogum).

He’s such a fan, though, that he just can’t keep up his precriptivist linguistic stickler routine, taking issue with Cyrus using the wrong tense (what?! She didn’t! That’s disgusting!), and ends up by stating: "Anyway, doesn’t that also sum up your career right now? Present. Perfect. Continuous. And Tense." In fairness, he does give Cyrus a couple of links to grammar manuals, so we can expect fewer of these kind of embarrassing blunders in the future.

Says Stevens: "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 of Present 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"

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today