I have a question about a possible poor wording in the following:

Newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump and wife Melania Trump ended a busy Inauguration Day with a visit to three balls in Washington.
The Liberty Ball and Freedom Ball both took place at the Washington Convention Center. The Trumps took the stage first at the Liberty Ball shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Their first dance was to musicians performing the Frank Sinatra song "My Way."

Is the bold part poorly written? Would a rewrite like this:

Their first dance was to the Frank Sinatra song "My Way."

be better, since usually people dance to a song, and people do not dance to musicians performing a song?

  • 4
    I think the author may be trying to distinguish between a Frank Sinatra recording of My Way and a group of musicians playing the song My Way (which was made famous by Frank Sinatra). Sinatra wrote neither the music nor the words.
    – John Feltz
    Jan 21 '17 at 15:31
  • @JohnFeltz So it is not well written?
    – meatie
    Jan 21 '17 at 15:55
  • 1
    The sentence is fine. John is correct that the awkward construction is to note that the song was being played live, and not a recording.
    – MaxW
    Jan 21 '17 at 16:35
  • The construction is not awkward. It says Frank Sinatra song because the song is identified with him. This is often seen in referring to performers.
    – Lambie
    Jan 21 '17 at 17:12
  • I'd agree with meatie that Their first dance was to musicians performing lacks felicity. "Their first dance was to the band's rendition of the song My Way, made famous by Frank Sinatra". Jan 21 '17 at 17:26

As others have pointed out, the sentence as written is a little awkward. However, keep in mind the writer apparently wanted to include these pertinent facts:

  1. Trump and his wife danced together

  2. It was their first dance as "First Couple"

  3. They danced to the song "My Way"

  4. The song was played live

  5. The version they danced to was sung by Frank Sinatra

If you want to include all this information in one compact sentence, it would be hard to do better than

Their first dance was to musicians performing the Frank Sinatra song 'My Way.'

So it's fine.

  • No.5 sounds as if ole Blue Eyes himself had been singing live, I doubt it seeing as Frankie died in 1998. Elvis Presley also sang it, and so too Sid Vicious (pretty good version if you ask me). Are you sure the version played was the same one made famous by Sinatra?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 21 '17 at 19:04
  • Well ... I agree the way I wrote it is ambiguous, but since Frank Sinatra isn't around to sing it you kinda have to assume I meant that the band played "his" version of the song. I don't know which version was actually played at Trump's celebration though -- I'm only restating the information in the reporter's sentence.
    – Andrew
    Jan 21 '17 at 23:25

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