Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tolkien spotting (Bare Naked Ladies)

So, a few days ago I was listening to the new Bare Naked Ladies album, SILVERBALL, while working at my desk and I thought I heard a Tolkien reference somewhere in there. I assumed I was probably mistaken (when a mind's filled with something, it's easy tend to see references to it even when they're not there). But going back and listening carefully, it turns out I was quite right: there is a LotR reference in the lyrics.

The song in question is the title song of the album (track twelve on the cd), and comes in the second verse:

. . . there and back again
I destroyed the ring . . .

This is only two lines (out of the whole stanza, not long known in Elvwn-lore), which reads in full

Had it all, 
   there and back again,
I destroyed the Ring 

  on the attack again,
The multi-ball

   was on track again,
But I watched it fall 

   through the center drain.

The 'conceit' of the piece (to use a bit of 18th century terminology) is that that singer is the pinball machine and his love is the pin-ball itself (or possibly at times visa versa; the details aren't exactly clear to me), with the song recording several ups and downs in their relationship.  This may even be based on an actual LORD OF THE RINGS pinball machine, though I assume not. In any case, a fun casual reference I thought I'd share.

And speaking of songs, I had the odd experience this week of finding out a song I've known and liked for more than twenty years isn't the song I thought it was but a different piece altogether.

Here's what happened. Back in Lake Geneva days, I picked up a cassette called GOLDEN HITS OF THE EVERLY BROTHERS -- one of those cheap releases that includes some (but not all) of an artist's hits along with a more-or-less random assortment of stuff to fill up the album. In this case the hits included "Wake Up Little Susie" and "(All I Have to Do Is) Dream" but it lacks "Bye Bye Love" (and another of their bests I came across later and liked, "Cathy's Clown"). But such compilations sometimes include a hidden gem you wdn't have learned about otherwise. In this case that was "Poor Jenny", the second track of side two. The words 'poor Jenny' never appear in the song, but that's not that unusual in rock songs.

So now I'm going back and listening to all my cassettes, with the thought of culling them some. After all,  I have some albums (like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's TARKUS) on vinyl, as cassettes, on cd, and on the I-pod. Since a fair number of those cassettes were copies I bought of albums I already had, so I cd listen to them in the care or at work, or ones later superseded by the same songs on cd, it occurred to me that I could open up some space here, after first re-listening to them all to make sure I'm not discarding a compilation I made myself or something with more on it that the label suggests. And it was while during so that, re-listening to the Everly Brothers, that I decided I liked "Poor Jenny" well enough that I shd buy it on I-tunes, where it's be easier to listen to it more often.

Except it turns out that the song they list as "Poor Jenny" is an entirely different song than the one I've known and loved all these years.

A little checking around, and I discover that while the Everly Brothers did indeed record a song called "Poor Jenny" (later picked up and re-recovered by the likes of Rockpile,* among others), it's not the song I know, being instead a song about how a 'wake up little Susie' style date ended up really, really badly, with his date in jail and her father and brother out hunting him down to commit mayhem. Reminds me a little of my father's song "You'd Better Put On Your Hearing Aid Maw, They'll Be Bad News Tonight", but not as good.

A little more digging (I love the internet!) and I found that the song I like is instead called "Since You Broke My Heart" (also covered by others, like The Searchers** and Rory Storm & the Hurricanes***).

All I can assume is that this anthology of songs was put together in a hurry, that at one point it was to include "Poor Jenny" but that fell through for some reason and someone hastily substituted "Since You Broke My Heart" instead. And that this change came too late to change the packaging, which had prob. already been printed.

Or something like that.
In any case, now I get to buy the song I want, and I get to know what the song I like is really called.

--John R.

*whom I mainly know through their outstanding contributions to McCartney's CONCERTS FOR THE PEOPLE OF KAMPUCHEA.
**best known for their one great hit, "Hey There, Georgie Girl"
***in a live recording, early enough that I think that must be Ringo on the drums. Which only goes to show he was lucky to leave the Hurricanes behind, given that Rory H. can't seem to actually sing then the band is playing the line he's singing


Ed Pierce said...

"Hey There, Georgie Girl" is by the Seekers, not the Searchers (the Searchers were the British Invasion band who did "Needles and Pins"). I only know this because about 6 months ago somebody told me that "Hey There, Georgie Girl" was by the Seekers, which I mistakenly got confused with the Searchers, and I was puzzled, because I didn't think that the Searchers had a female singer, and the song sounded too much like folk/pop for the Searchers. Then I realized my mistake.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Ed.
You're absolutely right. I never had the two names juxtaposed before and so never realized I was muddling together two entirely separate groups. Even though I have the single GEORGY GIRL (by the Seeker) and once had the double-sided oldies single LOVE POTION #9/ NEEDLES AND PINS (by the Seachers), though that one unf. seems to have gone walkabout.
Thanks for drawing this to my attention. In the course of checking on this, I discovered that The Cyrkle's RED RUBBER BALL, a great little song I still enjoy pulling out and listening to, was co-written by Paul Simon.
Live and learn. Ain't it great?

--John R.

Ed Pierce said...

Yes, indeed--always something new to learn!

N.E. Brigand said...

Trivia you probably didn't need to know: "Georgy Girl" was nominated for the Oscar for best song (being the theme for the film of the same name starring Lynn Redgrave and James Mason), but it lost to "Born Free", a fact I picked up about fifteen years ago while researching the biography of one of its co-writers, Jim Dale, when he was acting in a play we produced.