A—Yes, that’s the band’s actual name.
B—“This is my pain/ and you can’t have it” is a perfect line delivered perfectly.
Ok, blahblahblah uke covers blahblah hipsters blah.
But seriously. The song is parenthetically called Come out Tonight, all about parental disapproval, features the line “Closets are for hangers.” A female narrator singing to her girlfriend seems blindingly obvious, and moreover, turns the song from fun rock-n-roll to something with serious emotional stakes. The whole verse that starts with “I know your mama don’t like me” takes on this really powerful “dancing around the elephant in the room” quality.
Or maybe it’s heavy handed like Dear Prudence in Across the Universe, what do I know? I just really like early Springsteen.
First off, I could watch Bryan Devendorf drum for like days.
More importantly, I want to pose the suggestion that this isn’t a song about a breakup. I think this is a song about trying to commit in spite of crippling pessimism. Or, at least, that’s the interpretation that hit me like a ton of poignant bricks walking home from the bus today. It makes the chorus a whole lot harder to take, but in like a good way.
“Bless me Father Jack, for I have sinned. It’s been … well, this is my first confession. Actually, I’m not even Catholic.” Father Jack puffed on a cigar and squinted. “Well, this ain’t…
I’m pretty sure I’ve linked Greg Carpenter’s work here before.
This whole post is prompted by a conversation with a fellow writer who does not much like LotR. At the time I spouted a lot of bullshit that rang false, even as I was saying it. The fact of the matter is, much of what he took issue with is right on the money. The plotting is circuitous and anything but tight. Moreover, the worldbuilding is deeply problematic. It is, regardless of Tolkien’s intent, a world wherein certain sorts of people are just inherently equipped to rule, and certain sorts of people are just inherently rotten. It’s a hierarchically structured world wherein racist and monarchist propositions are proven accurate, and that’s a big mark against it.
That said, there’s a couple things that make the whole thing worthwhile in my eyes: The first is Saruman, and the second, and greater of the two is Frodo’s arc.
Saruman is just a platform for Tolkien to rant about the military-industrial complex and the effect it’d had on Britain in the years leading up to LotR’s publication. And I’m more than OK with that. For a series that suffers from being stuck in the past, the themes surrounding Saruman are decidedly timely—now as well as in the half of the century following World War I.
As regards Frodo’s arc, one of the things that continues to grip me even now, and has since I first read the books, is that, from early on in Fellowship, there is an overwhelming sense that Frodo is not going to be all right when he comes out the other side of all this. And that’s powerful. That the hero comes out depressed, and perpetually looking over his shoulder was new to me at age 10, and really made a big impact.
So, that whistling sound in the instrumental break? I think I might know how they did it—by mixing out every part of the lead guitar except the highest-pitched stuff—which is to say, just the feedback. That’s a guitar solo with only the feedback audible. How cool is that? (Also the song kicks ass)
This song, written in 1936 by Stuff Smith is about weed, nakedly so. Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong’s version uses truly unmodernized slang, just as anachronistic in 1973 as in 2014. And there is a myth that marijuana magically materialized roughly alongside the Beatles, that getting stoned is new ground. In that context, to hear this song is akin to watching a little, hunched, smiley old man throw himself into a moshpit. It is delightful, and not simply because it is incongruous. Rather, it proves wrong the creeping certainty that the human spirit is so weak as to make inevitable that you will become dead inside.