Q: I remember hearing the country song “The Tip of My Fingers” when I was a young’un in Upstate South Carolina 50 years ago. I’m old enough to know by now, but shouldn’t that be “Tips”? Thank y’all very much.
A: As we’ve written before on the blog, song writers are allowed a lot of leeway in the way they use English.
Bill Anderson wrote “The Tip of My Fingers” and released it as a single under that title in 1960. And we won’t fault him for it, even though most people would say “tips of my fingers.”
But the original title has apparently bothered some of the artists who’ve recorded the tune over the years.
It’s been recorded by Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, Jean Shepard, and others—sometimes under the original title and sometimes as “The Tips of My Fingers.”
In fact, singers haven’t always pronounced the title the way it reads on the record label or album cover.
For instance, on the album Roy Clark Sings The Tip of My Fingers (1963), Clark very distinctly says “tips,” and so do his backup singers.
So you’re in good company if the original title bugs you.
Here’s an excerpt from Teresa Brewer’s 1966 recording of the song (she says “tip”):
I reached out my arms and I touched you
With soft words I whispered your name.
I held you right on the tip of my fingers
But that was as close as I came.
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