And the skates are new

And you know the song. Melanie Safka described it this way:

“Brand New Key”, I wrote in about fifteen minutes one night. I thought it was cute; a kind of old thirties tune. I guess a key and a lock have always been Freudian symbols, and pretty obvious ones at that. There was no deep serious expression behind the song, but people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio.

My idea about songs is that once you write them, you have very little say in their life afterward. It’s a lot like having a baby. You conceive a song, deliver it, and then give it as good a start as you can. After that, it’s on its own. People will take it any way they want to take it.

Forty-odd years later, it persists. First, Orange County chanteuse Sabrina Lentini, now 19. She was 14 when she did this take:

Sabrina has a single coming out next month called “Dorothy Gale.”

Katharine McPhee actually released her take on the song in 2010, and it’s an intriguing blend of Melanie and the late George Michael.

Finally, a punky rendition by the Dollyrots:

Never could bring myself to hate this song.


  1. McGehee »

    16 November 2017 · 1:22 pm

    I particularly remember the episode of “Chicago Hope” where Adam Arkin’s character has had a head injury and he’s hallucinating while being cared for at the hospital. In once scene his nose-ringed girlfriend roiller-skates next to his gurney lip-synching Melanie’s version of “Brand New Key.”

    Clearly the writers read something Freudian into the song.

  2. fillyjonk »

    16 November 2017 · 2:55 pm

    My main memory of it is from some kid’s show (I don’t remember which one, maybe it had a married couple – or a couple of actors playing a married or dating couple?) in it, and there was a cute little animated sequence with literal roller skating in it. At any rate, I was an innocent kid and was immune to whatever Freudian implications there might have been in it. I always thought it was sort of a cute song. Even if roller skates with adjustment keys had pretty much been replaced by the “disco boot” type skates by the time I made the scene.

  3. fillyjonk »

    16 November 2017 · 2:58 pm

    Nope, not a kids’ show….Sonny and Cher. the internet truly holds all my memories from childhood

    that’s the animation I remembered.

  4. Bill Hunsicker »

    16 November 2017 · 4:03 pm

    Technically the Dollyrots are alt-pop which, as I understand it, is a subgenre of punk. I only discovered alt-pop recently. I like the Dollyrots, Go Betty Go, the Donnas, and a few others.

  5. CGHill »

    16 November 2017 · 6:48 pm

    Been a Donnas fan for a while.

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