Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sweet as the punch: The Association


"Along Comes Mary"
Every time I think that I'm the only one who's lonely
Someone calls on me
And every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse
And curse those faults in me

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks, and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks
Whose sickness is the games they play
And when the masquerade is played and neighbor folks make jokes
As who is most to blame today

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to set them free, and let them see reality
From where she got her name
And will they struggle much when told that such a tender touch as hers
Will make them not the same

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

And when the morning of the warning's passed, the gassed
And flaccid kids are flung across the stars
The psychodramas and the traumas gone
The songs are left unsung and hung upon the scars

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to see the stains, the dead remains of all the pains
She left the night before
Or will their waking eyes reflect the lies, and make them
Realize their urgent cry for sight no more

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

This isn't where all this started. As usual, I was doing something else: trying to track down something obscure, something that wouldn't leave my head, something decidedly dumb. It was a song along the lines of Cherish, with breathy male voices telling a highly unlikely story, only it turned out NOT to be a song by The Association (who did Cherish, Windy and a few other good ones, though Along Comes Mary is by far their best). There was a certain genre of pop then, with young men singing in that callow way, and vibraphones hitting plangent notes (I must look up plangent, I don't know what it means) while a chorus of guys sang, "BOM. . . bom. . .BOM. . .bom. . ."

I sort of had the feel of the song, like you have the feel of a dream that has almost slipped away, one that you were sure you would remember forever. The main thing I couldn't get rid of was an inane chorus that went "and you knew, that I knew, that you knew, that I knew" (ad nauseam). A line or two jumped out at me: "I regained my self-control and -" (blank). "Suddenly I wished I'd changed my shirt." Going nowhere, I decided to search using fragments of the lyrics.  Don't ask me how I did it, but I tracked it down, and it was just as awful as I remembered, if not worse:

It was written on my mind
Like the back of an envelope
Rehearsed and very carefully in reach
My cool cucumber non-committal speech
That I wrote while hanging out down at the beach
And I shivered from the cold of the ice in my granite heart
Knowing that you didn't have a prayer
And then I rang the bell and you were there and darling
Then your face was full of me
And then your eyes were too
And I knew, that you knew that I knew that
You knew that I knew that you knew that
I knew that you knew that I knew

I regained my self-control and I tried to close my big fat mouth
Before 'I love you' fell out on the floor
I didn't feel like Batman anymore
I hit my bloody elbow on the door
And then your brother asked if I had money for a haircut
And the pimple on my neck began to hurt
Suddenly I wished I'd changed my shirt and darling
Then your face was full of me
And then your eyes were too
And I knew that you knew that I knew that
You knew that I knew that you knew that
I knew that you knew that I knew

Once I pried it all apart, I discovered that the group was called The Love Generation, a great if hackneyed '60s name.  I found the song on YouTube and listened to it (this lyric transcript was full of mondegreens, by the way - misheard words which had to be corrected - Batman was "that man" - bloody elbow was "funny elbow" -  etc.) I think they were a watery copy of The Association, which actually turned out some decent tunes. The Love Generation was worth my while for that line about changing your shirt, however - it stayed in my mind, encrypted, for some 50 years.

As for Along Comes Mary. I always liked how the words tumbled over themselves, all on the same note, which somehow had a jazzy sound to it. But what I REALLY like is the fact that their live performances were better than their studio recordings. This one is slower, more mellow, and as a matter of fact all of them are probably stoned, but it helps the piece, brings out that crazy lyric which for some reason reminds me of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye (my all-time-fave teen novel, right next to Lord of the Flies).

I'm trying to remember how old I was when this thing came out. I used to slavishly watch Leonard Bernstein's Young People's concerts back then - not just because my parents made me - and on one memorable show he demonstrated different musical modes like madrigals and fugues by playing and singing (horribly - he sang like a bull moose) various pop tunes. The kids were delighted, you could see it on their faces. One of those tunes was Along Comes Mary. How do I know this?  I was there, I saw it on TV. It was only on once, but like certain odd inexplicable things it riveted itself into my brain.  But I had never corroborated it until just a few minutes ago, when I found a YouTube snippet with Leonard Bernstein singing. . .

So it really happened, but could it have been in 1962 as the video claimed? I was eight years old then, my grandson Ryan's age. I must have been a sponge then, which makes me I wonder how much he is soaking up right now that he will remember when he's 60. If there's still a world left to live in.

(Oh, sorry! It couldn't have been that long ago, the song came out in 1966 when I was, geez, TWELVE years old, practically an adult! So much for having a preternatural memory. Now I have to look up TWO words.)

POST-SCRIPT. You thought there wouldn't be a post-script? This could go on all night, but it won't. I could keep digging up scholarly analyses of Along Comes Mary, whether it's an anthem to Mary Jane or the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene or the coming apocalypse, etc. etc. And as a matter of fact, when you really look at it, it could be all of the above.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Except that Paul was referring to his dead mother, Mary. Or something else, sitting on his nightstand, always within reach.

Anyway, before I ditch this and get some sleep, here is just one fragment of the lunatic responses I found to the timeworn and useless question, "What does the song mean?"

I can't help but dismiss all this talk about drugs when talking about this song. This writer was classically trained & did rock & roll out of necessity more than anything else. I'm going to give you what he had in mind for the REAL meaning of this song. Hear me out & research the subject matter before you come to a rash determination. Along comes Mary is most definately about the role of Mary the Mother of Jesus The Christ. Not only does it describe the life altering affect she has on mortals by way of numerous earth appearances & various apparition sites over hundreds of years, but you hear proof of this as the last verse refers to The Warning which has been predicted numerous times over the many years ("and when the morning of The Warning's passed the gassed & flacid kids are flung across the stars." and then..."& does she want to see the stains, the dead remains of all the pain she caused the night before." also..."Oh will their waking eyes reflect their lies & make them realize their urgent cry for sight no more?") The Warning comes a year before The Miracle In The Sky & is predicted to come on a Thursday night @ 8:30 on the anniversary of an unnamed martyr. During a 10 minute period everything will stop; literally while God our Father opens our eyes & shows us how we offend Him Who loves us so much. This will change life as we knew it up to that point. It will GRIEVE us inwardly & to some it will be such a shock that it will cause expiration. Then we'll understand life as He wants us to & submit our selfish wills for His Divine Will by surrending ourselves to Him & to the service of others who need our help. Search The Warning on your toolbar. Anyway, this is the meaning of the song. Now, listen to the words now that your lyrical eyes have been opened.

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Spread 'em, boys!

Everybody knows that men often need to air their testicles in public. They do this without regard to the female passengers wedged between their spreadeagled legs.

Most women who have taken public transit have experienced the prison of male knees locked on either side in front of them. They must sit thigh-to-thigh with complete strangers who slowly but surely edge farther and farther into their space. The fact these people take up a seat-and-a-half's worth of public space doesn't concern them. In fact, it does not even occur to them.

Men can hold their legs at right-angles, and in fact, often do, while women cringe into themselves, not wanting to sit squashed against a strange man's bottom.

With no pesky females sitting on either side, they can really go to town and be the guys they were always meant to be. Some of us like to call this the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County look.

This guy happened to escape from a Contortionists Anonymous rehab facility. Either that, or he is warming up to do squats at the gym. Were he sitting on a bench seat, the women on either side of him would have been asphyxiated.

Is there a reason their feet are touching? Is it sort of like a Freemason secret handshake or something?

I think you're starting to get the idea. Women must keep themselves small. This is the whole idea of dieting. It's a childlike thing, and children are relatively powerless. And they don't jut their beefy thighs out into another person's seat space because they KNOW it would be rude, presumptuous, arrogant, and just WRONG.

This is a "hey, take a look at my testicles" pose. As one comedian used to say, his pants are so tight you can tell what religion he is. But if you don't like it, hey, don't look! (This does NOT apply to women's breasts, however. If women insist on parading their tits around, they have to be willing to take the consequences.)

This is a really good look at the family jewels. If women sat that way, they'd be raped within 5 minutes - asking for it, weren't they? Just a "come and get it" thing.

Speaking of free pussy, it looks as if this guy's shorts have virtually emasculated him. They have sunk into his scrotum to an alarming degree. I've never seen a man with camel toe before.  But we still get to have a really good look, whether we want to or not. If his hygiene isn't good, and let me tell you, there are plenty of men with NO hygiene, you get a really bad smell, too. But hey - isn't it women who stink? They have a whole line of products to kill the smell, and men don't. Maybe airing your nuts in public isn't such a bad idea.