Friday, June 23, 2017

Congratulations, son-in-law!

Really stupid things about the '60s

As with most of my posts, this one started off as something else: '60s phrases that are still in common useage today. Back then, nobody thought these mostly inane little expressions were going to have such staying power. But think about it.  In the '70s, nobody said "23 skidoo!", "I love my wife, but oh you kid", "Saaay!", "I think you're swell", or "Are you sore at me?" Those phrases only exist in late-night movies on Turner Classics.

But it's mind-boggling to realize that a lot of '60s slang has lasted FIFTY YEARS, which is the equivalent of people in the '60s using slang from World War I. 

It never ceases to surprise me how often these still crop up in ordinary conversation, usually among people who didn't live through that memorably confused era. In fact, though I have no way of measuring this, I think I hear these phrases much more often now than I did 50 years ago. Most of them didn't even exist in the early '60s, when Pat Boone and Doris Day were the music idols of the day. They came along in the hippie era, the last few years of the decade, from 1967 - 1970. Most of the expressions came directly out of the music scene, meaning the drug scene - in particular, psychedelic drugs. Hanging on to catch-phrases half a century old never happens - never has before, and, I am convinced,  will never happen again. Here are the ones I remember off the top of my head:

Boggles the mind
Blows my mind
Bummed out
Crash (sleep)
Do your own thing
Far out
Freak(ed) out
Guilt trip
Laid back
Lay a trip on
(not) my bag
(not) my thing
Oh wow!
Push my buttons
Scarf (eat)
Spaced out
Tripped out
Turned off/on
Wiped out

Most of these expressions seem creaky and anachronistic, even inappropriate, in a setting like 2017 when most people aren't talking much at all any more (not even into their phones - they talk with their thumbs now, which is - I now see in a blinding flash of clarity - why we evolved with opposable thumbs to begin with). But still they pop up with alarming regularity, every day.

Having run out of ideas about this, I started thinking about related '60s things (most of them really stupid) that somehow never go away.

Item: 1960s pop songs with unintelligible lyrics. I already covered the Dada-ist mishmash Nikki Hoeky in another post (and I don't want to go there again). In some cases, there is just ONE line you can't decipher, a line that drives you absolutely crazy and leads to one bizarre mondegreen after another.

Like this:

A Hard Day's Night

It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright

You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things
And it's worth it just to hear you say 
You're going to give me everything

(so what's the next line, what's the next line, what's the next line?)

So why on earth should I moan,
 'cause when I get you alone
You know I feel OK

(etc. etc.)

OK, what did YOU think it was? It was just an unintelligible blob of words to me. I don't know if anyone got it. No one asked, because even then, nobody listened to the words anyway, until Bob Dylan came along.
She Loves You

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
With a love like that
You know you should be glad

You know it's up to you
I think it's only fair
 (next line, next line, next line)

Pride can hurt you too
Apologize to her

Because she loves you
And you know that can't be bad
Yes, she loves you
And you know you should be glad, ooh

That one, I thought, was "frighten her to do", which doesn't make much sense unless you take into account John Lennon's shocking possessiveness with women ("I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than see you with another man").

And then there are a few songs that are just plain stupid, that make NO sense or are so dumb we can't quite believe they made the Hit Parade.

Little Green Bag

Lookin' back on the track for a little green bag,
Got to find just the kind or I'm losin' my mind
Out of sight in the night out of sight in the day,
Lookin' back on the track gonna do it my way.

Lookin' for some happiness
But there is only loneliness to find
Jump to the left, turn to the right
Lookin' upstairs, lookin' behind!

Lookin' back on the track for a little little green bag,
Got to find just the kind or I'm losin' my mind,


(Note: the rest is just endless repetition).

Little Black Egg

I don't care what they say
I'm gonna keep it anyway
I won't let them stretch their necks
To see my little black egg with the little white specks

I found it in a tree
Just the other day
And now it's mine, all mine
They won't take it away

Here comes Mary, here comes Lee
I'll bet what they want to see
I won't let them stretch their necks
To see my little black egg with the little white specks

Oh, goldurn, what can I do?
The little black egg's gonna tell on you
I won't let them stretch their necks
To see my little black egg with the little white specks

The little black egg... [repeat to fade]

The "little black egg". Right. Knowing the '60s, people probably argued all night long in an altered state  of consciousness about "what does it mean?"

Beautiful People

Beautiful people
You live in the same world as I do
But somehow I never noticed
You before today

I'm ashamed to say
Beautiful people
We share the same back door
And it isn't right

We never met before
But then
We may never meet again
If I weren't afraid you'd laugh at me

I would run and take all your hands
And I'd gather everyone together for a day
And when we're gather'd
I'll pass buttons out that say

Beautiful people
Never have to be alone
'Cause there'll always be someone
With the same button on as you

Include him in everything you do.
Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do every morning

That's got to tell you something
We've got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me

Maybe I'll take care of you
Beautiful people
You look like friends of mine
And it's about time

That someone said it here and now
I make a vow that some time, somehow
I'll have a meeting
Invite everyone you know

I'll pass out buttons for
The ones who come to show
Beautiful people
Never ever have to be alone

'Cause there'll always be someone
With the same button on as you
Include him in everything you do
He may be sitting right next to you

He may be a beautiful people too
And if you take care of him
Maybe he'll take care of you
'Cause all of the beautiful people do

And you're all beautiful people too

Melanie Safka DID have some good songs.  I'm pretty fond of the "brand new rollerskates", Candles in the Rain was OK, and she wrote one - I just found out - called The Nickel Song that I heard Nana Mouskouri do decades ago, and loved. The lines that leap out and assault me are "'Cause there'll always be someone/With the same button on as you". I think of Eldridge Cleaver and "Kill All the White Men".

It's just that general, swampy, I-love-absolutely-everybody sentiment that sticks in my throat. "I'd gather everyone together for a day" for some reason reminds me of the afternoon I was held prisoner by some Jesus freaks in the 1970s. To this day I remember the mindlessness, the void I saw in their eyes, and I wonder whatever happened to them all. "Everyone" could include pimps, serial killers, Neo-Nazis, or . . . am I just too jaded by the horrors of 2017? No! This thing is disgustingly naive! It's just. . .sorry, Melanie, I can't buy it. I don't have the same button on as you.

Any Guy

I was bored
I would not compromise
Wanted more
So I looked in your eyes
But it could have been any guy's
It could have been any guy's eyes
But your eyes were there
And they started to stare
But don't think that I care - No.

Now you got
The feeling you're great
'Cause we shared
A few looks
And I made one mistake
But it could have been any one
I was looking for that kind of fun
And you were right there
In love, all is fair
But don't think that I care

Now you got
A new friend I know
So I'm packing my things
And I'm going to go
Please don't make a scene
Don't cry
You can't stop me if you try
I love being free
It's the best way to be
Is she as pretty as me, huh?
Is she as pretty as me, huh?
Is she as pretty as me, huh?
Is she as pretty as me, huh-huh?
Is she as pretty as me, huh.

I included the whole lyric here because the ending is so obnoxious/nonsensical. I first heard Melanie perform this on The Mike Douglas Show, except that I didn't know it was Melanie because unless you read fan magazines, you didn't know what pop stars looked like, and I missed the introduction. It was the "huh, huh" stuff that drove me crazy, and the INTENSE way she did it. Before singing it, she explained to Mike that it was "kind of torchy". I didn't know what that meant.

ADDENDA. Hey, guess what! I found out some stuff here (on Wikipedia, so it MUST be right) that makes SOME sense of these lame lyrics. As with Nikki Hoeky, Little Green Bag might be a mixup in translation:

"Little Green Bag" is a 1969 song written by Dutch musicians Jan Visser and George Baker (born Hans Bouwens), and recorded by the George Baker Selection at the band's own expense. The track was released as the George Baker Selection's debut single by Dutch label, Negram, with the B-side being "Pretty Little Dreamer".

The track's original title was "Little Greenback", in reference to the color of the US dollar. The first line of the lyric, "Lookin' back on the track for a little greenback", has three rhymes (underlined); "green bag" would not be a true rhyme. However, the single was given the erroneous title, "Little Green Bag", which some took to be a "bag of marijuana". The "Little Green Bag" title was then retained for all subsequently released versions of the single as well as the group's 1970 debut album, also titled Little Green Bag. This is an example of a mondegreen.

I realize this explanation is a lot longer than the song.  But if you want to prove this to yourself, just listen to the recording of The Little Green Bag. It's very plain he isn't saying "green bag" at all, but "greenback". The k sound is very distinct. But we don't hear it that way unless we're expecting to. Makes me wonder about all the other things we accept on faith, because everyone else is doing it, or because we've been told it's the way it is - even though "they" are plainly wrong.

The Little Black Egg

"The Little Black Egg" is a song first performed byDaytona Beach, Florida garage band The Nightcrawlersin 1965. It was a minor hit in both the US and Canada, reaching number 85 on the US Billboard charts in 1967, while doing slightly better in Canada, where it hit number 74. The song has been since covered by multiple artists including Inner City UnitThe LemonheadsTarnation and The Cars. It was The Nightcrawlers' only hit, though many have claimed it was the first guitar riff they learned during the mid-'60s. The song was written in 1965 for an Easter concert, in which the band opened for The Beach BoysAllmusic reviewer Matthew Greenwald describes the song as a "slightly bizarre nursery rhyme", with lyrics about a rotten bird's egg. Other explanations claim the song referenced miscegenation in segregated Florida.

Miscegenation in Florida? Sorry, guys, it just does not work.

SHE'S ALIVE! It's Mothra

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Girls in cages

In her cage she danced for him 
although a hundred eyes were turned her way
And before the set was through he knew
She would be his loved one

Only a go-go girl in love with someone who didn't care
Only twenty-one, she was a young girl just in from somewhere 

Only a go-go girl in love with someone who didn't care
A go-go girl in love.

Gordon Lightfoot

The lost cartoon

Over the Hills

The old hound wags his shaggy tail,
And I know what he would say:
It’s over the hills we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills, and away.

There’s nought for us here save to count the clock,
And hang the head all day:
But over the hills we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

Here among men we’re like the deer
That yonder is our prey:
So, over the hills we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

The hypocrite is master here,
But he’s the cock of clay:
So, over the hills we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

The women, they shall sigh and smile,
And madden whom they may:
It’s over the hills we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

Let silly lads in couples run
To pleasure, a wicked fay:
’Tis ours on the heather to bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

The torrent glints under the rowan red,
And shakes the bracken spray:
What joy on the heather to bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

The sun bursts broad, and the heathery bed
Is purple, and orange, and gray:
Away, and away, we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

George Meredith

Blogger's lament. This is my second attempt at this post. Why? Why, you ask. In attempting to post a superb video about a Scottish deerhound leaping and bounding around, which would have perfectly illustrated the above poem, I deleted some sort of code - the wrong one, apparently - and the entire post disappeared.

There is no recycle bin for this thing, so deleted is deleted. The police won't look for it, so no one will find it.

So I will try to reconstruct it from memory.

The video of the sheep jumping crazily around filled me with such joy that it awakened a memory of something we used to sing in school. The piece was a tweedy, ruddy English thing, an adaptation of the George Meredith poem which the school choir sang in the Kiwanis Music Festival: "It's over the hills we'll bound, old hound,/Over the hills and away!". It was a common enough choral number then, and I expected to find a nice YouTube video of it somewhere. But I couldn't find any trace of it, on YouTube or anywhere else. Led Zeppelin recorded something called Over the Hills and Far Away, but I knew that wasn't it.

The poem is good enough to stand alone - I guess -  but when I can't find something. . . What annoys me is that it's harder than ever to find things on Google or YouTube or anywhere else, due to sheer volume and congestion. Every day millions more entries are added. This harms, rather than helps your search because of all the CRAP in the way.

This reminded me of something else I tried to track down the other day, and couldn't.

I even remember making gifs of it (and please forgive me for not using GIFS - capital letter always seem to scream at me), but I can't find them anywhere. This is odd, because I always save the gifs I make - I have thousands of them by now. It was an old cartoon - I assumed Disney, because it was one of those sylvan things where nymphlike creatures frolic around, wearing practically nothing. You know what I mean - they're dancing and capering around in a village with thatched roofs, etc., while a man sings in a very high voice.

But that's not the part I wanted.

At a certain point in this pastoral scene, a bunch of the cherubs or whatever-they-are were pulling on a massive bolt which held a huge sort of gate together. They tugged and tugged on it, and when it finally came loose an explosion of water burst out, causing a massive river to tumble and cascade down the dry rocks and hills. It was extremely erotic, and I remember playing that bit over and over again. The animation was, as I remember, outstanding. Animating water convincingly is no small feat. I thought of The Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia, with a doomed Mickey swirling down the drain, his mouth open in a round black O.

I'm trying to remember ANY other identifying details of this cartoon. Disney? Fleischer? Warner Bros.? Merrie Melodies (not likely!)? Happy Harmonies? Silly Symphonies? Obviously every studio had a version of this: cartoons that were churned out weekly for theatrical release. This one was colour, in my memory at least, and the little creatures reminded me of those cherubs in Fantasia:

(I only had three frames to work with here, so pardon the jerkiness.)

It wasn't Fantasia. I checked. I went through synopses of all the Silly Symphonies, including the much-hated Bugs in Love (which was always being shown on the Mickey Mouse Club, much to our disgust. By that time, Hanna-Barbera had become the standard.) Water Babies, a Disney Silly Symphony from which I made these three gifs, was downright disturbing to me because of the excessive focus on small children's bare bums. At least, they look like small children. Was sexual abuse so unthinkable then that child nudity passed without notice?

After much fruitless and boring searching, I've given up on the lost cartoon. It will ever remain a memory. Though I wish I had some idea how to describe it to Google.

Blogger's afterthought. The more I look at that George Meredith poem, the more alarmed I become. The guy is not just a misogynist: he's a misanthrope, apparently hating the whole human condition. The poet is sick of watching the clock in depression, tired of the hypocrisy of those who seem to hold worldly power. In the company of men, he feels like "prey" (the deer, usually the target of such romps). The "cock of clay" line confused me, until I realized that the guy is fantasizing about skeet-shooting, with his enemies as the target.

And women! Forget about it, they're all tarts and temptresses. But boys pose even more of a dilemma: "Let silly lads in couples run/To pleasure, a wicked fay". I found one meaning of "fay" which kind of disturbed me:

fay (third-person singular simple present fays, present participle faying, simple past and past participle fayed)
To fit.
To join or unite closely or tightly.
To lie close together.
To fadge.

So, to fay is to fadge. Right, it all makes sense now.

The last two verses, which I remember because the tempo changes at the end, are gorgeous:

The torrent glints under the rowan red,
And shakes the bracken spray:
What joy on the heather to bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

The sun bursts broad, and the heathery bed
Is purple, and orange, and gray:
Away, and away, we’ll bound, old hound,
Over the hills and away.

On the last verse we sang, "The sun. . . bursts. . . broad," the part of it which stayed in my head, along with the purple, and orange, and grey. "Over the hill" can of course be a synonym for "old and obsolete", but Meredith doesn't seem to mind: his greatest desire is to get the hell away, as far away as possible, from the whole chaotic human mess.



fadge (third-person singular simple present fadges, present participle fadging, simple past and past participle fadged)
(obsolete, intransitive) To be suitable (with or to something).  
(obsolete, intransitive) To agree, to get along (with).  
(obsolete, intransitive) To get on well; to cope, to thrive.  
(Geordie) To eat together.
(Yorkshire, of a horse) To move with a gait between a jog and a trot.


fadge (plural fadges)
(Ireland) Irish potato bread; a flat farl, griddle-baked, often served fried.
(New Zealand) A wool pack, traditionally made of jute, now often synthetic.
(Geordie) A small loaf or bun made with left-over dough.
(Yorkshire) A gait of horses between a jog and a trot.

Rare animation from 1911

From Little Nemo by Winsor Mccay