Get Into The Groove

A few posts ago, I wrote a post about about the meaning of cool, referring to its definition to mean hip, fashionable, groovy. (As opposed to its other uses, to mean somewhat on the cold side, or unfriendly.)

As a tangent to that post, today, I am going to look at cools first cousin. Let’s just say that today, I’m feeling groovy.*

Groovy. It’s a fun word to say, right?  The team here at It Keeps Me Wondering Laboratories (TM) have spent months researching this topic, and we conclude that it’s because the double “o” in groovy sounds a million times more drawn out and laid back than it does in words that groovy rhymes with. I

f you don’t believe me, try saying them out loud. Go on, no-one’s watching! Have a go at words like foodie, moody, or nudie. I bet you’ll have finished making the “oo” sound before you know it. Now try groovy. You really had to pout your lips for that one, didn’t you?

Our theory is that extra effort is required by the mouth to make a “gr” sound, so that slows the mechanics of pronouncing the whole word right down, causing the remainder of your efforts to play out like a close up shot filmed in slow motion. By the time you’ve mastered the “gr” and got to the “oo” it feels more like “oooooo,” and your blood pressure has dropped slightly. Finish it off with the “vy” sound, which makes any word sound kind of humorous (just ask the navy), except gravy, which I’ve always found to be very sombre stuff.

In short, scientists here at IKMW (TM) Laboratories believe that there is a sort of “placebo” effect to the word groovy. In other words, it’s hard to say groovy without simultaneously feeling more laid back and….well, kinda groovy.

So much for the mechanics of pronunciation. I know what you are really all wondering is, what exactly does the word mean? According to the Miriam Webster online dictionary:

1. Marvellous, wonderful, excellent

or

2. Hip, trendy.

One offering on Urban Dictionary suggests that the word means excellent, tubular, awesome or cool.

Groovy seems to have very similar origins to cool. According to Wikipedia: The word originated in the jazz culture of the 1920s, in which it referred to the “groove” of a piece of music (its rhythm and “feel”), plus the response felt by its listeners. It can also reference the physical groove of a record in which the pick-up needle runs. (Wikipedia)

Many sources reference the word as being very highly used in the 60s, and at the page linked above, Wikipedia provides an impressive list of songs from that decade with groovy in the title to prove that true.

According to Wikipedia, however, common use of the word groovy had died out by the 1980s.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 3.00.36 pm

I beg to differ. I recall being taken by surprise in 1990 when I heard a girl a few years younger than me, use the word groovy. It’s a seemingly trivial moment to remember so clearly, but I know what year it was because I was at art school, and I really did register surprise. I remember thinking that I had never heard that word used by anyone in real life before. In my memory, had only ever been used by characters on shows like The Brady Bunch or Get Smart, to situate characters firmly in the 60s or 70s.

Both cool and groovy can be used to mean that something is excellent. That is one cool jacket!  That is such a groovy idea! However, when used to describe a person, they are, to my mind, quite different from one another. Cool describes someone who is a step ahead of the pack in terms of their willingness to embrace the new and set the trend, or to go against the crowd, and often also implies someone who is slightly aloof, perhaps set apart from, or above, the pack, who aspire to be like them. Groovy is very different. Groovy retains its 60s-70s hippie vibe, so someone who is groovy is generally very laid back and easy-going, likely to be into certain types of music (eg funk, soul, etc), and may even still wear flares.

In my post about cool, I suggested that the people who epitomised cool were The Fonz, and James Dean. In keeping with that line of thought, I’d have to say that my pick for the people who epitomise groovy is these 3 dudes:

Now, when I was born the 60s were fading to an end, and I was only a kid in the 70s. As far as popular culture goes, it was from the 80s onwards that I was really taking any notice.

Therefore, I thought I’d look back at what a few experts have said about being groovy, since the 1980s.

Get into the groove

Boy you’ve got to prove

Your love for me

Madonna, 1984

Here Madonna is clearly telling this “Boy” that if he wants to be considered awesome, excellent or even tubular, he needs to do more than just mooch around looking moody. At the moment his behaviour is just not cutting it: he needs to lift his game.

Your groove, I do deeply dig, No walls, only the bridge, My supperdish, my succotash wish.

Sing it, baby!

Deee-Lite, 1990

Now I can’t be certain, but I think what Deee-Lite was saying was:  “I like you a lot you may be sure. But walls are for squares, let’s go outside and get together on a bridge. BTW, I’ve got a craving for a dish of sweet corn and lima beans* for my supper, and I’ll really like you if you make it for me and serve it up in this dish.”

Groove is quick but thick no trick

words manifest

Lyrics I lick

Snap, 1990

Interpretation: “this beat is very fast, and hard, but it’s real, man. It’s a challenge to create lyrics that make sense, but hell, words are just coming to me as I rap, yeah, I’ve got the lyrics licked.”

So we can clearly see from the above evidence that 1990 was indeed a renaissance for the word “groovy.”  We also conclude our studies by noting that some lyrics are best left uninterpreted.

* Lyric from The 59th Bridge Street Song (Feeling Groovy) – Simon and Garfunkle, 1966

*Madonna, Get Into The Groove, 1984

*Dee-lite, Groove Is In The Heart, 1990

*Snap, The Cult Of Snap, 1990

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5 Comments

  1. This post was totally tubular! I thoroughly enjoyed your linguistic analysis and preferred it to other forms of linguistic analysis I’ve seen! I would like to see what you have to say about “tubular” as well! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thanks Lucky! I was going to finish it off by saying that next time I’d explore the meaning of tubular (what a rad word!!) but as always I was so keen to get it finished & publish that I forgot to say that.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Lol. I love your interpretations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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