The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 March 2006

Sucking in the Seventies

"Amoral creeps," says Jamie, "ruled the airwaves in the Seventies," and she offers a couple of examples, starting with Rupert Holmes and "Escape":

[T]he guy is bored with his girlfriend, so he takes out a personal ad looking for a replacement, implicitly without breaking up with the girlfriend first. Someone answers; they plan an assignation, sight unseen; and when they meet — [wahp-wahp-wahhhhh] it's "his own lovely lady." They've deepened their intimacy via the personals, they now know that each likes piña coladas and so on, and happily off they go to make love at midnight, in the dunes on the Cape, all oblivious to the fact that each of them had had full intentions to cheat on the other.

A less-happy ending, at least by a third:

[G]osh, the girl is going to throw poor Meathead — I mean Meat Loaf — out into the snow, because despite the fact that he both wants and needs her, there ain't no way he's ever going to love her. Sadly, his heart is permanently locked on some other chick who both wanted and needed him, but would never love him, though she at least had the decency to get out of bed and get out into the snow without argument.

Jamie says further that though these two tunes "were songs I loved when they first came out (in my childhood!), and songs I still sing along to, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with letting my kids hear them."

Which, I guess, is the one advantage of being old: it's possible to be very fond of a song and yet utterly despise its message. Consider John Lennon's "Imagine." At the very least, it's fuzzy-headed socialist utopian balderdash. But it's downright beautiful fuzzy-headed socialist utopian balderdash: I've never been entirely sure whether John really meant all this stuff or was just yanking our chains — I'm sure Yoko would have meant it, but that's another story — and yet I never really cared, because the record was that good.

In time, Les Kids will figure out that this sort of disconnect is actually rather common.

Posted at 6:20 AM to Tongue and Groove


I have this thing where I tend to listen to how songs *sound* rather than to the lyrics most of the time. As far as I care, the lyrics could entirely be "na na na na na". The voice as an instrument, certainly, but who cares about the words.

In this fashion, I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan. It still startles me whenever I start paying attention to what the words say, and think maybe I shouldn't be singing that at the top of my lungs with the kids in the car...

Posted by: Jennifer at 9:24 AM on 29 March 2006

Too right, Jennifer... I have certain songs that I save for when I'm driving alone!

But my favorite not-paying-attention-to-lyrics story is more of a not-understanding-lyrics story, also about "The Piña Colada Song": a friend thought until she was well into her twenties that the line was, "If you like green enchiladas..."

Posted by: Jamie at 7:49 PM on 4 April 2006