The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 April 2004

A moment's pleasure

About twice a year, someone has the temerity to ask me why I would think any of the pop songs I grew up with could possibly have any relevance today. And my answer is always the same: I turn to the shelf, pull down Scepter 1211, then start the turntable. An opening perilously close to lounge music, and then Shirley Owens, somewhere between wistful and wanton:

Tonight you're mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?

This was the first composition for Brill Building publisher Don Kirshner by Carole King (music) and Gerry Goffin (lyrics), and as the story goes, it was first offered to Johnny Mathis; Columbia Records boss Mitch Miller is said to have blackballed the song, claiming it was immoral.

Dawn Eden might think ol' Mitch may have been on to something:

Like many songs from that more innocent era, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" expresses feelings that most people would be too embarrassed to verbalize. There's something painful about the way its vulnerable narrator leaves herself wide open. Yet, even though her asking the song's title question implies a certain amount of courage, it's clear that she's ready to accept a positive answer without questioning it — which is not surprising, given the lyrics' description of how the evening has progressed. By the time one is worrying about how the other person will feel tomorrow, it is usually too late.

For most unattached single women in New York City, and I would imagine much of the rest of the country as well, casual sex is the norm. It's encouraged by all the women's magazines and television shows from "Oprah" on down, as well as films, music, and the culture in general. And while "love" is celebrated, women are told that they should not demand to be loved tomorrow — only respected.

If it's encouraged for women, it's almost mandatory for men; a woman who is not sexually active is pitied, while a man who is not sexually active is mocked and ridiculed. (Which may be one reason why very few men — Frankie Valli is one who did — ever recorded this song.) "Tell me now, and I won't ask again" turns out to be a variation on a theme by Scarlett O'Hara: "I'll think about that tomorrow."

And, says Dawn, "if you have to ask someone if they'll still love you tomorrow, they don't love you tonight."

I still love this song, and always will. But if you thought it was just an innocuous pop tune from forty years ago, you might want to think again. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" contains the seeds of the sexual revolution — and, perhaps inevitably, the counterrevolution as well.

Posted at 7:49 AM to Table for One , Tongue and Groove


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-- If it's encouraged for women, it's almost mandatory for men; a woman who is not sexually active is pitied, while a man who is not sexually active is mocked and ridiculed. --

I think you'll find that that varies considerably, according to the locale, and even more according to the person under the microscope.

Here on Long Island, we partake in considerable degree of the New York City culture and ethos. Still, the reaction of one's acquaintances to the discovery that one is celibate can be quite laudatory...if one has the right sort of acquaintances, from the right sort of circle, or if one is forthright and fearless about one's convictions and standards.

At least, I don't think my buds ever laughed at me for the nine arid years when I was "between wives." And the fact that I'm the most heavily armed private citizen in New York had, well, only something to do with it.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 4:15 PM on 13 April 2004

Being afflicted with weaknesses of spirit and flesh, I think I'll just let that go by. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 6:18 PM on 13 April 2004