Singer and songwriter Adele has a top single called Rolling in the Deep. You’ve probably heard it. It’s awesome on every level, but two lines in particular are so special that the word nerd in me had to call them out:
We could have had it all,
Rolling in the deep
If there were some sort of a contest for the best ten words ever written, I would nominate that part of Adele’s song. What kind of mad genius puts rolling and deep in the same sentence and leaves out the noun?
This is a song about love that went off the tracks. In context, it means they could have had an elusive and special kind of deep love. The genius in the writing is that she leaves out the key word, love. As a general rule of art, the hard part is knowing what to leave out.
It took about five seconds of research to realize that this bit of word magic wasn’t an accident. Another of Adele’s songs has the line set fire to the rain. There’s a whole lot going on with those five words too. And if you think it’s easy to combine words that normally don’t belong together and make them work, try it at home. You end up with stuff like “I am the walrus.” Sure, that worked out for The Beatles, but probably not because the lyrics were magic.