It's a part of the song Take Your Guess by Tom Rosenthal (lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tomrosenthal/takeyourguessalternativeversion.html) I don't understand this part of the lyrics (I'm not a native English speaker): "take your guess, spurious at best, can't you see it's all just chaos." Who is supposed to 'guess', and what to guess? And does it say "it's best if your guess is spurious/fake"? It doesn't make sense!

  • Song lyrics are a really bad way to learn English, because they're usually written to sound catchy, not to be grammatically correct or easy to understand. Many of them are intentionally ambiguous. – stangdon Feb 7 '18 at 16:03
  • Well, i wasn't really trying to learn English through this song. I asked in this community because I thought being a non-native speaker it'd be best if I post here. By the way, I agree songs are not the best to learn the spoken English, but learning English (completely) should also include learning to understand art works (like songs and poems) which are in English language. – Perceptioner Feb 7 '18 at 16:26

A caveat: song lyrics often have many possible interpretations, and this song especially is pretty ambiguously-worded; we don't get any completely unambiguous explanation of who is asking the question or what the guess is about.

(Though, from context, it seems that the guess in some way relates to the person the singer is referring to wanting to know the best way to live or the correct way to go about life: see lines such as I see a million ways and that's fine, which can be taken as meaning that there's no correct way to go about things.)

However, there is one part you're misunderstanding that I think will make the lyrics more clear: the phrase [X] at best when combined with an adjective or phrase that has negative connotations means that, even in the very best possible outcome or viewed from the very best possible light, the thing being discussed has that negative property. One example of this phrasing can be seen in this book excerpt:

Many parents also faced various persecutions from the party, suffering extreme stress at best and violence, imprisonment, or death at worst

So here, the book is saying that even under best circumstances the people suffered extreme stress. (And, under not-the-best circumstances, they suffered even worse.)

Taking this example and applying it to the lyric, we can see that the phrase take your guess, spurious at best means that, even in the very best outcome, the subject of the song's guess will be spurious (and in less-than-perfect situations, the guess could be even worse than spurious). The last part of the lyric, can't you see it's all just chaos is an explanation for the first part: because everything is chaos, any attempt at explanation will be useless and so the guesser's guess can only be invalid (or worse).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.