Have you ever listened to a song that you’ve heard a million times before, only to be struck suddenly by how odd/strange/disturbing the lyrics to the song actually are? This happened to me over the weekend when I was l enjoying the song “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters (which, coincidently you can find on the Best of 1960 and the overall Best of the 60s mix tapes). On the surface, it’s quite a compelling love song, but if you listen a little deeper, there’s a whole other point of view to the song that should be considered.
Since I’m not going to run afoul of the copyright law, take a couple of minutes now, and give it a listen.
Ok, got it? Here’s what I hear now when I listen to that song:
(A couple is riding the bus, the gentleman is talking to a rather lovely but pissed off looking girl. He’s using lingo that I can only assume that young people used in 1960.)
“Listen, girl, daddy is a little short of cash this week, so when we get to the party go ahead and hit up whoever you want for dinner and free drinks, okay? I’m going to meet a guy in the alleyway about a really solid business opportunity, but I’ll meet you at the back door in an hour and you can let me in so we don’t have to pay two cover charges. Try to pick me up some of those little hot dogs in a bun. In fact, see if you can dump a tray of them in your purse for later. Then we’ll leave at 10:30 so we have plenty of time to make the seven block walk back to the #3 bus. I sure hope it doesn’t rain”
Girl just shakes her head and stares blankly through the window.
While we’re at it, here’s a few more songs that change meaning if you just shift your point of view slightly…
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett
An isolated, alcoholic, manic depressive is slowly drinking himself to death thanks to a string of failed relationships, if he doesn’t strangle himself getting out of his hammock in a drunken stupor or die from the tetanus he picked up stepping on rusted pop tops and getting back alley tattoos. He also has a habit eating dessert and shrimp for breakfast and of misplacing common household items, the latest being his salt shaker.
Baby It’s Cold Outside – Various
Alternate title: The Rohypnol Song
This song must have originally been written as a date-rape PSA, but it inexplicably gained favor as a Christmas song (and the video with the little kids only makes it that much more disturbing. Creepy.) I’m just guessing here, but I’m betting this is one of Bill Cosby’s favorites.
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – The Beatles
On second thought, this song is pretty straight forward disturbing. Boy takes girl on a date, boy kills girl with a big bloody silver hammer. Boy goes back to school, boy gets in trouble, boys stays after school and murders the teacher in cold blood with the same silver hammer. Boys actually looks to be a serial killer. Da-do-da-do-do…
Charming little ditty, no?
There’s tons of songs like this, really, but these four jumped into my head as being especially good examples. Which ones did I miss?