Question marked

“Ever since I first heard that song,” says Francis W. Porretto, “I’ve wondered: ‘Why ninety-six tears? What would have happened on Tear #97?’ It appears we’ll never know.”

I’ve always figured that “96” was meant to stand in for some otherwise-indescribable number. It is a finite number, though, so it’s possible to go higher.

A lot higher.

You may remember Dickey Lee for a teenage death song called “Patches,” about a desperate girl who throws herself in the dirty old river that flows by the coalyard in Old Shantytown.

Or, if you should so desire, you can split the difference.


  1. McGehee »

    26 October 2018 · 1:36 pm

    I heard or read somewhere that the original lyric and title of the Mysterians song had the digits reversed, and somebody prevailed upon the group to change it to avoid offending people.

    It’s grain-of-salt-worthy, on the “If you hear the dog whistle, you’re the dog” principle; those who would be offended by a song referencing that many of something, I doubt they would have known back then what the number’s significance was. It would be like Jan & Dean singing about 4:20.

  2. Roger O Green »

    26 October 2018 · 1:37 pm

    I HATE “Patches”

  3. fillyjonk »

    26 October 2018 · 7:30 pm

    McGehee: my inner-12-year-old feels compelled to respond about the allegedly-reversed digits with “Nice.”

  4. November rambling: We Are Not The Enemy | Ramblin' with Roger »

    16 November 2018 · 8:11 am

    […] 9,999,999 Tears – Dickie Lee […]

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