28 May 2010

The Outfield: Your Love

This week i was going to run another request, but i’ve had a song going through my head for several days and i figured the only way to banish the demons would be to share it with you. Therefore, i present the Outfield’s 1986 top-ten hit “Your Love”, the only major hit i’m aware of that used its music video to highlight the professional and personal issues involved when a band shares its rehearsal space with an artist specializing in representational abstract art.

Fun fact! The Outfield were, according to their Wikipedia page, originally called the Baseball Boys. This is actually somewhat interesting, since they’re from London, where baseball isn’t traditionally a big deal. It is, however, not interesting enough for me to think about any further.

The song “Your Love”, despite being an absolutely horrible song, has had many opportunities to burn itself into our brains. Aside from being utterly inescapable in the mid-80s, it appeared in one of the many versions of Grand Theft Auto, and it’s currently used as an intro song whenever a number of major league ballplayers come up to bat. I’m willing to give Frank Catalanotto and Josh Willingham a pass on using this song, since they’re outfielders and this is the biggest hit by a band named after their position, but Kelly Johnson and Gordon Beckham both play infield positions, and so they have no excuse for choosing such a terrible song.

Incidentally, as i was finishing up my comments for this song’s lyrics (yes, i write the intros last), i discovered the blog Awesomely Bad Lyrics has done its own commentary on this song, including mentioning the whole baseball connection. Interesting. Anyway, it was cool finding that blog, almost like discovering a long-lost (and somewhat fouler-mouthed) older cousin that hasn’t been updated in a couple months. Worth poking around, particularly since it seems the only songs that blog has covered that i have are this one and, since it’s so horrible that it must be mocked by everyone, Starship’s “We Built This City”. (Here’s my take, here’s the take at Awesomely Bad Lyrics.) That blog has gone over a few more that need to be discussed here eventually, though—Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, Boston’s “Amanda”, Europe’s “The Final Countdown”…

But yeah, you’re right, now i’m just stalling before having to move to the horror that is “Your Love”—the song “Your Love”, that is, i’m sure your own personal love is actually a wonderful thing, a shining light of pure crystal brightening the darkness. The love of John Frederick Spinks, member of the Outfield and writer of this song? Not so much.

Josie’s on a vacation far away

Just to orient the reader, Josie appears to be Mr. Spinks’s significant other. It’s kind of hard to tell, though, ’cause this is the last we hear of her. In particular, we never hear of her coming home, at least not in this song—maybe in another one one day?

Come around and talk it over
So many things that I wanna say

In another item to orient the reader, this song is one long seduction attempt—so, as you might expect, it’s mainly one line after another. So what sort of smooth line is Mr. Spinks going to use on the object of his desire?

You know I like my girls a little bit older


Um, okay.

I mean, points for not going the Benny Mardones route here, but i’m kind of wondering if you’re aware that stating right up front that you’re after someone older, and then strongly implying that you’re trying to seduce the woman you’re talking to precisely because she’s a bit older…Well, i’m just thinking that your odds of success have just dropped a bit.

Not to say that mom-age types aren’t desire-worthy—hey, i’m married to one myself!—but you might want to try a little more subtlety with your target demographic next time.

And speaking of subtlety…

I just wanna use your love tonight
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

Nope, no danger of that here.

I ain’t got many friends left to talk to
No one’s around when I’m in trouble

Not trying to mess with your obviously smooth self, Mr. Spinks, but might i suggest, oh, not insulting people? And then maybe, once you get that down, you can move on to not propositioning women near the beginnings of your conversations, or at least waiting to do so until a full three or four minutes after mentioning the name of the other woman you are currently involved with. Once you get those down, you might find that you have more friends—and, in fact, not only might you find more people around when you’re in trouble, you might find yourself getting in trouble less often.

What’s that? Thanks for the advice, but no thanks? You do what works for you? No, no problem—go right ahead. Please do continue.

You know I’d do anything for you

You mean like leave Josie for her?

Stay the night but keep it undercover

Well, apparently not.

So let’s tally this up: Mr. Spinks has propositioned a woman by saying she’s old and he just to use her sexually for a night, and he wants to make sure nobody knows about the booty call.

That’s classy right there.

I just wanna use your love tonight
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

This couplet bugs me—the second line implies what is, to my mind, a frankly unhealthy possessiveness toward the woman he’s trying to woo. I mean, fine, the first line says pretty bluntly that he’s after a one-night stand that’s all about him, but then the second line makes it sound like he’s assuming it’s a done deal.

You know what, Mr. Spinks? She’s still allowed to say no.

Tryin’ to stop my hands from shakin’

Shaking with frustration? Dude, just because you’ve always gotten everything you’ve wanted up to now in your life does not give you the right to get this angry.

Somethin’ in my mind’s not makin’ sense

It’s not just your mind, Mr. Spinks, trust me.

It’s been a while since we were all alone

I suspect that’s entirely purposefully done on her part. I know it would be if i were her.

(Warning: The audio on that link might not be entirely safe for work, depending on where you work.)

I can’t hide the way I’m feelin’

And here the logic, such as it is, comes crashing to a halt. I mean, didn’t you sing, just a few lines ago, that you want her to stay the night but keep it undercover? And now you can’t hide things? Dude, if you’re gonna talk about it, you’ve got to give her the green light to do the same—it’s just fair.

Of course, given the odor of combined uncontrolled desperation and barely controlled anger that you’re exuding in this song, i don’t know that she’d actually want to go bragging about her one-night stand with you to her friends. But you know, to each her own.

As you leave me please would you close the door

Oh, that’s real nice—hey, the sex was great, make sure you close the door so i don’t have to get up and do it myself.

Basically, continued classiness.

And don’t forget what I told you

Um, that she’s old, you’re after her for one night’s sex, and you don’t care about her feelings or opinions on the matter? Yeah, i don’t think you have to worry about her forgetting that—and, i suspect, she may end up making sure none of her friends forget it, either.

Good luck finding another alternative to Josie, dude.

Just ’cause you’re right, that don’t mean I’m wrong

You know, in general this is technically true—but still stupid.

In this particular case, though, if she’s saying no to your sexual advances, you’re wrong. Hope this helps clear things up. Have a nice day.

Another shoulder to cry upon

Emotional blackmail? Still stayin’ classy, i see.

I just wanna use your love tonight
I don’t wanna lose your love tonight

And then this gets repeated over and over, with some occasional vamping between lines.

My advice to Ms. Not-Josie: While Mr. Spinks is distracted from paying attention to his singing, run, don’t walk, to the nearest courthouse. You’ll thank yourself for it in the morning.

21 May 2010

Wilson Phillips: Hold On

So this week on Lyrics, Weakly we take another request, the Wilson Phillips song “Hold On”. This was the first single from their debut album, and it hit #1 on the US charts in June 1990, and was actually the #1 single for the entire year. The album as a whole was a huge success, going quintuple(!)-platinum and spawning four top-five singles, three of which hit #1.

And really, as you listen to the song, you can understand why. Wilson Phillips is made up of Carnie and Wendy Wilson, daughters of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Chynna Phillips, daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. That’s a lot of harmony in their bloodlines, and as you listen to them, they certainly live up to it.

So the harmonies are sweet. The songwriting? Not so much. So cue the cheesy 80s ice piano, and…

I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?

Dude, don’t question it. Some people are into that sort of thing—live and let live, that’s my philosophy.

No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you

Wait, i’m confused. So you’re saying that i’m strong enough that nobody can mess with my life, and so i should keep people from stepping all over me? But if i’m really that all-powerful, and the only one who can change my own life, then, logically, i really shouldn’t care whether they’re stepping all over me—it’s not going to actually mess with me.

And besides, what if i like having people step all over me? What then? Your platitudes don’t seem so perfect then, do they?

Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Is it fair? I think it is—but maybe i’m just not understanding what you’re asking. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.

Oh, some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let’m
Hold you down and make you cry

So you’re saying that i’m in some sort of relationship with someone (romantic, friendship, whatever), and one day they’re going to do something that’s going to make me want to leave the relationship. Yeah, stuff like that happens every day—saying it will is a pretty safe bet, actually. But in the meantime they’re holding me down and making me cry? But wouldn’t that make me want to say goodbye right now?

(Well, unless i’m into that sort of thing—see above. But if that’s the case then yes, I certainly am going to let them do that to me.)

Completely seriously, this song has pretty opaque lyrics for being such a transparent thing. I mean, if you listen to the whole thing it’s clear that this is one of those “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh-darn it, people like you” songs. No problem—there’s a place for stuff like that in this world. But then you start looking at the details of how that’s being said, and it all starts to feel a little darker.

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day

Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!

Can you hold on for one more day?

Like i said earlier, bland happiness and then sudden darkness. I particularly like the way this line is delivered, with the can you that turns it into a question muttered more softly than the rest of the line, in an apparent subliminal attempt to undercut the confidence of the person they’re singing to.

Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

Really, could y’all make up your collective minds? Are you questioning whether things are actually going to go my way, or are you expressing certainty? ’Cause i’m getting mixed messages here.

You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?

Okay, i give up. I’ve been trying to write something about this couplet for several minutes now, and i can’t come up with anything.

The main reason for my mindblock, i think, is that it makes absolutely no sense. I mean, you try it. Imagine a friend coming up to you and saying “Here’s what i think: You could sustain, or are you comfortable with the pain?” What would your reaction be? That’s right, it’d be “Huh?” You know why? Because that’s not something anyone would ever say! In fact, i suspect it’s not even a sentence that would ever occur in English—it appears to follow the grammatical structure of some other language. Mses Wilson and Phillips all grew up in Southern California, so maybe this is actually an example of the indigenous language of that region.

(Warning: Turn down the volume for the last ten seconds or so of that last link if you’re at work, or around your parents.)

You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness

I really hope that when pop/rock songwriters go to school, this line is used in the class on rhythm and meter as an example of what not to do.

Oh, what’s that? People don’t go to school to become pop/rock songwriters? Well, that explains lines like that one, then, doesn’t it?

No, baby, you got yourself into your own mess
Lettin’ your worries pass you by
Don't you think it’s worth your time
To change your mind?

See? Darkness again. Apparently it’s time for tough love, as we get told about all the horrible things we’ve been doing, particularly by ignoring all the things that could have been worrying us. But wait…I’m confused again.

After all, it’s not that long ago that these very singers in this very song were talking about how we’re letting ’m (seriously, i can’t tell if they’re singing ’em or him, which bothers me a little bit) hold us down and make us cry. That doesn’t sound very much like letting our worries pass us by—it sounds like an emotional crisis, something you can’t let pass you by because it’s right there, taking all your attention.

Not to mention that the entire message of this song, at least as far as i can tell, is that if you can just hold on for one more day everything’ll get better. So basically, they’re saying they’ll yell at us for doing whatever it is that we’ve been doing all this time, and then when we take their advice to just hold on for one more day—which would involve letting our worries pass us by, one would think—they get to yell at us for doing so and getting ourselves into this mess?

Sorry, but i don’t need to take this sort of thing from you.

Wait a minute…Unless the ’m who’s holding us down and making us cry is actually Wilson Phillips, and this is actually one of those cases where they’re expressing contrition and working on reconciliation, just so that they can come back and abuse us later on. Yeah, that’s right, i’m on to you! You’re not going to get away with it this time!

But then the chorus gets repeated, and we get distracted by those sweet, sweet harmonies.

I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free from the chains
Yeah, I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains

Seriously, what is it with the chains and pain? I mean, you know, other than the obvious answer—that they keep using those words ’cause they rhyme and they couldn’t think of anything else to use.

And really, it’s a bizarre idea, anyway. I mean, think through what they’re saying logically: They’re saying that if you’re in chains, even though it’ll hurt you should stay in them for one more day, ’cause then they’ll go away. Sorry, but that’s not the way people who chain you up and torture you generally work.

But then we get the chorus again with its amazing harmonies, and we get to forget for a moment how utterly silly this whole song is.

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on

Really, this is an utterly innocuous feel-good song—but there’s no law against innocuous feel-good songs making sense, is there? Well, maybe there is—who knows?

14 May 2010

Color Me Badd: I Wanna Sex You Up

Over the past few weeks, i’ve gotten a few requests for songs that should be featured on Lyrics, Weakly—and so today we reach into the vault for the first of these, Color Me Badd’s 1991 hit, “I Wanna Sex You Up”.

“I Wanna Sex You Up” was a big international hit, hitting #2 in the United States (while topping the R&B and dance charts) and getting double platinum status, and hitting #1 in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. I was fortunate to be living in Austria at the time, where it missed the top ten (peaking at #11), so i avoided having it burned into my brain quite as intensely as people living in much of the rest of the world did. Therefore, for me this is just an amusing memory of the early 90s; for the rest of you, i apologize for bringing up something quite as traumatic as this is likely to be. However, in my defense, i will point out that i’m not the first to bring this song back from the dead, since (according to the song’s Wikipedia entry) it was semi-recently covered by the Acafellas on an episode of Glee, giving those of us who don’t watch that show yet another reason to be happy about our entertainment choices.

The scary thing, by the way, is that this was not Color Me Badd’s highest-charting US hit—those were the followup singles “I Adore Mi Amor” and “All 4 Love”, which both hit #1. It’s this one, though, that has created the deepest memory scars for many people.

(By the way, the #1 song in Austria while “I Wanna Sex You Up” was topping the charts elsewhere? “Joyride” by Roxette, which topped the Ö3 Austria Top 40 for ten weeks, comparatively not a bad choice by the Austrian people at all. Of course, earlier in the year—yes, this was 1991—the #1 song for six weeks was “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, which is also not a bad choice but certainly an interesting one.)

Anyway, i’ve put off getting to the lyrics themselves for long enough, so i should move on to them now. There’s no reason for you to be in quite such a hurry to reopen old memories, though, and so i’d suggest taking a moment to watch the literal version of the song’s video.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]

I have to admit that i’m not entirely sure if i got this line (these lines, actually, as you’ll see) correct. First of all, the ah may actually be aw—and even though those are pronounced the same by most North Americans, they’re different-sounding words for me, but i can’t tell which was intended here. Similarly, and more importantly for the meaning of the passage, i can’t tell whether the you is that or actually yeah.

You know what, though? I actually don’t care.

Also, you’ll notice that i put this line in brackets. That’s because there are four main types of lines in this song: lines sampled from other songs, lines delivered by the backup singers, a deep-voiced spoken interlude, and lines delivered by the lead singer. Just to keep things straight here, i’ll be putting the sampled lines in [square brackets], the background vocals in (parentheses), the spoken interlude in {curly brackets}, and the lines from the lead singer without any special marking at all.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

Repetition, apparently to help people like me who aren’t entirely sure of the lyrics.

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

Doesn’t help, though.

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

What in the world does this have to do with the rest of the song, anyway?

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]

Were that that were true!

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

You’re kidding, right? I mean, we’re getting into “Hanky Panky” territory here.

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]

Or maybe this is a true statement, and that song is actually a good one.

But at least this signals the end of the intro—the seduction is about to begin.

Come inside, take off your coat
I’ll make you feel at home
Now let’s pour a glass of wine
’Cause now we’re all alone

’Cause, you know, people never, ever drink wine when they’re in groups of more than two.

I’ve been waiting all night
So just let me hold you close to me
’Cause I've been dyin’ for you girl

Death? Wow—that seems a little bit extreme.

To make love to me
Girl, you make me feel real good
We can do it ’til we both wake up

Now, i’m not going to claim to be fully versed in all possible permutations of human sexual experience, but i’m having trouble imagining how this is supposed to work. After all, i’m pretty sure he just told her he wanted to have sex with her while they were both asleep. I mean, i suppose it can be romantic under certain circumstances to say that you plan to have erotic dreams about the object of your desire, and even to say that you wish the object of your desire to have erotic dreams about you, but it seems kind of out of place here.

Maybe this is actually a suggestion that they take Ambien together.

Girl, you know I’m hooked on you
And this is what I’ll do

More evidence for my Ambien theory.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

Oh, please, not again.

(I wanna sex you up)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
All night

Ticking, tocking, never stopping, alling nighting sexing upping—you know, it’s kind of comforting to be faced with just an old-fashioned love song, comin’ down in three-part harmony.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(You make me feel real good)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
I want to

This is, seriously, the end of this line. Dude wants to.

Glad to know.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[I know you not gonna sing that song!]

That’s what we were hoping, at least.

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the]

Yep, this is the end of this line, too. Now, i realize that sampling technology wasn’t as advanced in 1991 as it is now, but it’s not like they were cutting tape up into scores of pieces to do this—they just had two samples (one saying To the ah tick tock you don’t stop, and one with the To the left off). You would think, then, that the producers would have been able to keep from including just the beginning of the longer sample before they managed to turn off the sampler—or at least that they would have fixed that in post-production.

Or maybe this line is actually reflecting the band’s adherence to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, and so they had to include an imperfection to remind their viewers of the imperfection inherent in this sphere of existence, just as if this track was an ikebana flower arrangement.

Well, either that or they simply messed up. Yeah, probably that.

Let me take off all your clothes

Pretty forward of you, dude—but i guess you’ve poured enough wine into her by now that it doesn’t matter.

Disconnect the phone so nobody knows, yeah

Seriously, what’s the point? I mean, i can see disconnecting the phone so that y’all don’t get interrupted, but why would anyone know you’ve gotten her naked just because the phone’s not off? I mean, unless you’re expecting that you’d answer the phone during sex, but you’d have to have extremely poor taste to do that, right?

Let me light a candle so we can make it (better)

The word better is in the background vocals, presumably to make sure it gets your attention. Leaves me wondering: Better than what?

Makin’ love until we drown

Today’s real-world survival hint: If you are in danger of drowning due to your sexual conduct, try putting less water into the jacuzzi next time. Or maybe wear equipment more appropriate to the venue.

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
Girl, you know, it feels real good
We can do it ’til we both wake up
Girl, you know I’m hooked on you
And this is what I’ll do

So once again we’ve been reminded that the gentlemen of Color Me Badd have sex while they sleep. However, the last line of this verse implies that we’re about to be told how exactly they go about doing this. I have to admit that, as ashamed as i am to say this, i’m kind of curious. So…

[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
Makin’ love until we drown
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[I know you not gonna sing that song!]

And with this, we learn that Color Me Badd are collectively a big tease.

{Ah, girl, you just make me feel so good}

And here we have the deep-voiced spoken interlude.

{I just wanna, I just wanna look at you}

This is either a lie, or Color Me Badd have the most um, unique definition of “I wanna sex you up” that i’ve ever come across. Apparently it involves being (wait a moment while i scan through the lyrics to this point) naked, drunk, lit by candles, asleep, and underwater. Yeah, i guess maybe it’s that.

{Don’t say anything at all}
{Just lay back, and enjoy the ride, yeah}

You know, i’m a guy, and this just pushed the squickmeter to eleven.

Everybody out there who’s into guys, you could do the whole world a serious favor by withholding any sort of riding to a guy who refers to sex as “the ride”. Please?

All I want to do is
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
All night
[The the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(Girl, you make me feel good)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
I want to
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]

To be entirely honest, Color Me Badd is starting to sound a bit desperate here.

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]
Make sweet lovin’ all night long
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
Feels so right it can’t be wrong

Something feeling right isn’t a valid bit of evidence for it not being wrong.

My proof? It presumably felt right to record this song.

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
Don't be shy girl, rescue me

The first Google hit for “rescue” is an a capella quartet. The second hit fits my opinion of this song much better—plenty of products to help this girl get rid of the pests in her life, or at least the pests in the same room body of water as her.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
Open up your heart, and I’ll set you free

Dude, it ain’t her heart you’re trying to open up. At least be honest with her about that!

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]

So not only are most of the lines in this song sampled from other sources in a desperate attempt to pad this song’s length, they repeat one of them over fifty times. You know, i’m starting to develop some opinions about y’all’s songwriting abilities—and let’s just say they’re somewhat short of positive.

Oh, I wanna touch you in all the right places, baby

This has got to be one of the worst pickup lines ever.

[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
I wanna make love to you
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]

Again with this line! Please, just make all the tick-tocking go away. Please?

All night, all night, yeah
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[To the ah tick tock you don’t stop]
You me
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]

Just stop, and i’ll say nice things about you.

[I know you not gonna sing that song!]

Okay, you’re right, i won’t.

But at least by this point the song is on fadeout, and even though it’s a really., really slow fadeout it means it’s almost done!

Which, in a way, is the best thing i’ve been able to say about this song in this entire post.

Make sweet lovin’ all night long
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
Feels so right it can’t be wrong
[I know you not gonna sing that song!]
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
Don’t be shy girl, rescue me
[Ah tick tock you don’t stop]
(I wanna sex you up)
Open up your heart and I’ll set you free

Yep, this really is the way this song ends—with arguably the worst line found in the entire song.

But you know what? I suspect the gentlemen of Color Me Badd actually ramped up the quality of their lines for this song, and that they’re usually not even that smooth.

(p.s. The audio in that last link isn’t entirely safe for work. You’ve been warned.)

07 May 2010

Frankie Valli: My Eyes Adored You

This week Lyrics, Weakly moves into dangerous territory: criticizing an Italian-American from New Jersey.

The 1975 song “My Eyes Adored You” was actually recorded by the Four Seasons with Frankie Valli as lead singer, but their label wouldn’t release it. (Many other labels rejected the song after that, by the way. It’s somehow comforting to know that stupidity isn’t new to the music recording industry—they’ve been working on getting things wrong for a long time.) Frankie Valli bought the rights to the song, and finally got it released—but the label that released it didn’t want it released as a Four Seasons song, they wanted it released as a Frankie Valli song. As a result, it was Frankie Valli’s first solo #1 hit, even though it wasn’t actually a solo recording.

Confused? Yes? Well, welcome to logic, Recording Industry Association of America style.

Incidentally, while Frankie Valli was still working on getting himself established as a singer, he worked as a barber as his day job. I’ve got nothing to say about that, really, except that i find it both highly amusing and actually pretty cool.

Anyway—this song is actually pretty nice to listen to, if you’re in the mood for overt sappiness. (And aren’t we all, every once in a while?) Just make sure that you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics when it comes on the radio. I mean, the weirdness starts with the very first line:

My eyes adored you

From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Main Entry: adore
Pronunciation: \ə-ˈdȯr\
Inflected Form(s): adored; ador·ing
1: to worship or honor as a deity or as divine
2: to regard with loving admiration and devotion
3: to be very fond of

So Frankie Valli’s eyes either worshipped this woman, regarded her with admiration or devotion, or were very fond of her.

The odd thing is that such actions generally require a brain. The idea that Frankie Valli’s eyes might actually be independently sentient and capable of acting on their own frightens me, for some reason.

By the way, all this talk about worship and eyes is reminding me of what is easily the creepiest song the B–52’s ever recorded.

Though I never laid a hand on you my eyes adored you

I don’t get the cause and effect relationship here. That is, this is set up as something where you’d expect a cause and effect relationship (one’s eyes would normally adore someone precisely because you laid a hand on the object of the adoration), but it’s a twist where the effect occurs even without the expected cause. You know, like if someone said “Though i’ve never liked coconut, i adore piña coladas”.

Well, that’s all well and good, except that there is no such expected cause and effect relationship between laying one’s hands on someone else and adoration. Basically, Mr. Valli, you’re fulfilling metrical requirements at the expense of logical requirements.

Oh—and what exactly does Mr. Valli mean by I never laid a hand on you? ’Cause to me, that means you hit the person you’re talking to, and that’s just not cool, not to mention a very unlikely situation to have linked to adoration.

Even if you’re talking about a softer, more romantic touch (and next time you talk about sweet caresses, please choose a different turn of phrase), there’s still no cause and effect relationship, or at least not in that direction—generally, one desires to touch someone else because one adores that person, rather than adoring someone because you have touched them.

I have to admit that when i started this blog i didn’t expect that i’d be giving out relationship advice.

Like a million miles away from me you couldn’t see how I adored you

It amazes me how easily logic got thrown out the window so that the meter would work in the previous line, but then meter gets completely ignored here. Go figure.

Oh—and it isn’t really all that hard to see things that are a million miles away. I mean, the sun is over ninety million miles away, and it’s so easy to see that it can blind you.

So close, so close and yet so far

Random cliché!

Carried your books from school
Playing make-believe you’re married to me

I myself am a married man, and though i can’t presume to speak for all married men, and certainly not for married women, i don’t spend a lot of time carrying my wife’s textbooks. In fact, i didn’t do so even when she was actually recently in (grad) school.

Essentially, Mr. Valli, no matter how much you may have been into this girl, she was calmly and rationally analyzing the situation to determine whether you would be an acceptable partner in a long-term relationship. However, since you didn’t act in ways that might have matched her expectations of such behavior (might i suggest that a neck rub when she was looking tense or a friendly hug when she was feeling sad might have been a better choice than never, ever touching her in any way at all), she never reciprocated your desire. Sorry it didn’t work out for you, better luck in the future.

You were fifth grade, I was sixth

Two things:

First, a quick memo to Benny Mardones: If you’re gonna go after minors, it’s better to be eleven than to be thirty-three (or more). Just sayin’.

Second, is this the way they really talk in New Jersey? ’Cause for me, there’s a missing preposition (namely, ‘in’) before each of the ordinal numbers in that line. I may be wrong in this—and it’s entirely possible, since in the New York City conurbation, including at least much of North Jersey, people often wait ‘on line’ rather than ‘in line’, so there are other prepositional things going on there already—but unless advised otherwise, i’m going to attribute this to being an instance of ignoring English grammar in the slavish service of metrical faithfulness.

When we came to be walking home every day over Barnegat Bridge and Bay

Well, except, of course, when meter gets ignored.

Really, Mr. Valli, could you just make up your mind whether you want the metrical pattern of this song to be regular or not? I’m having trouble keeping track.

Anyway, Barnegat Bay is supposed to be a fairly scenic place, and so conducive to this sort of unrequited desire, i figure. Oddly, i can’t find a bridge on or near Barnegat Bay named “Barnegat Bridge”. As far as i can tell, though, this line is a tribute to a wooden bridge that was replaced with the (now structurally deficient) Thomas A. Mathis Bridge in 1950.

No snark in that last paragraph, just the results of a brief bout of geekery-inducing internet research. Sorry—i’ll try not to lapse into seriousness any more.

Til we grew into the me and you
Who went our separate ways

Obligatory Journey reference!

(Not to mention this highly amateurish but rather endearing version, and this much more professional but thoroughly hilarious one.)

Then we get the chorus again.

Headed for city lights
Climbed the ladder up to fortune and fame

See also ‘Metaphors, mixed’.

I worked my fingers to the bone
Made myself a name

I never realized how lucky i was that my parents simply gave me a name. I can’t imagine having to build my own—i mean, where would i get the materials?

Funny, I seem to find that no matter how the years unwind,
Still I reminisce about the girl I miss
And the love I left behind

You know, it really sounds like you stayed in love, and she never was in love with you. Therefore, you didn’t leave it behind, since there was nothing to leave behind—in fact, if anything, you brought it with you. As a result, Mr. Valli, i’m afraid that i’m going to have to recommend that you be placed in Remedial Logic 099.

(I’ve never actually been a student or a teacher at a college that offered Remedial Logic, but i’m thinking that it would have to be the most horribly frustrating class to teach ever. “No, Frankie, saying ‘But i’m right’ more often than the person you’re arguing with doesn’t constitute well-formed evidence for a claim…”)

And then we get the chorus again, again.

All my life I will remember how warm and tender
We were way back then, oh baby

Dude, she just wasn’t that into you. I know it’s harsh to hear it, but really, it’s time to get over it and move on.

Though I’m feeling sad regrets I know I won’t ever forget
You, my childhood friend

And then we’re given one last bizarre cause-and-effect relationship to mull over. I mean, Mr. Valli is saying he won’t ever forget some girl he knew when he was a preteen despite the fact that he’s feeling regret? Seriously, how does that connection between those things even work? I guess, hypothetically, he wouldn’t be feeling regret if he’d forgotten her, but then it’d be something like “I’m feeling no regrets though i haven’t managed to forget” or somesuch—really, the opposite of what he’s saying. I think he’s trying to say “I’m feeling sad regrets because i know i won’t ever forget”—but that doesn’t work with the meter, and as we’ve already learned, this song is all about throwing logic out the window in order to preserve the meter, except of course for when the metrical pattern gets completely ignored.

(And then, just to mess with us, Mr. Valli closes us off with one final repetition of the chorus during the fadeout, so as to remind us that his eyes have achieved sentience and are capable of emotional reactions—like you hadn’t been properly creeped out by that idea yet.)