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.)

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