It's from a song called "Blue Ain't Your Color":

Well, it's probably not my place
But I'm gonna say it anyway
'Cause you look like
You haven't felt the fire
Had a little fun
Hadn't had a smile in a little while

I do not get why it says "(and) Hadn't had a smile in a little while",

considering the preceding phrase, which goes

"You haven't felt the fire (and haven't) Had a little fun".

I understand that maybe the writer wrote the lyrics like this for the sake of the rhythm, rhyme, etc.

Is this (the use of past perfect) grammatically correct though?

And does this use of past perfect tense imply that the "period of no smile" was before the "period of no fire and fun"?

Thanks a lot. I really appreciate your help.

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that the shift from the present perfect to the past perfect is a little odd, but probably has no deep meaning. Lyrics are sometimes written without a lot of thought, and in this context there is little difference between saying:

You hadn't had a smile


You haven't had a smile.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume the shift is intentional. This would imply that the songwriters meant that, up to now, the woman has not "felt the fire" nor "had a little fun". Also, up to now, she has not "had a smile" -- but very shortly, the singer is going to do something to help her have a smile. In other words, she had not had a smile until this moment, but that will change.

It's still a stretch. As a general rule, don't overthink music lyrics. Personally, I would have kept both sentences in the present perfect, but I'm not a Grammy Award-winning singer.

Side note: This song was actually written by three people -- Steven Lee Olsen, Hillary Lindsey, and Clint Lagerberg -- none of whom recorded the popular version. Here is a "cover" version sung by one of the original songwriters.

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