Monday, December 30, 2013

Lighthouse Point #1 & #2

This is a fun dance number about the other thing hormonal teens like to do when they are not dancing: i.e., "making out," "necking," or-- if it's done in a parked car-- "parking."

There are two recorded versions of this song; #2 is slightly faster than #1, but the tracks are otherwise identical. The melody is not far from "At the Hop." But the song is notable in the Tom and Jerry catalog for the use of backup singers. Lyrically, almost every line contains an internal rhyme.

Now, when teens park, they need a good place to do so. One is the drive-in movie, at which the sound of the film covers over any suspicious sounds they may be making. Another is simply somewhere far away from civilization, the darker the better.

Well, the teens near Lighthouse Point have hit the jackpot. This spot, presumably at the end of Lovers' Lane, is "way down by the water." So, naturally, "It's so nice to park when it's dark down at Lighthouse Point." One may associate a lighthouse with brightness, but a lighthouse sends its lantern's light far at sea, while in its shadow it is dark.

Lighthouses are also equipped with sound-makers like foghorns, in case it is too foggy for the light itself to be seen by sailors. The one at Lighthouse Point, instead, has a bell, which for the teens serves the same purpose as the soundtrack of the drive-in movie: "You kiss-kiss-kiss while the bell in the beacon goes 'bong bong ba-bong-bong-bong.'"

Not they they are looking at it for long, but "There's a beautiful view for two at Lighthouse Point." And isn't is supposed to be too "dark" to see the view? Nevertheless, one can hear "the waves pound, pound all around." One need never have read a romance novel to know what the pounding rhythm of the waves is meant to represent.

But Simon makes an excellent point. Without such places, how and where would young couples... couple? There must be a garden for love to blossom in: "Let's go, I know/ That 'bong bong' bell will bring wedding bells in the Spring."

Still, he the speaker is using generalities: "There is" this place, "where it is" nice to park, and "there is" a view for two-- any old two... hint, hint...

Clearly, he hasn't been persuasive enough to his girlfriend about the charms of this spot in general, because the speaker now goes in for the hard sell: "Tonight when the moon shines bright at Lighthouse Point/ Hey, baby, come a-hold me tight at Lighthouse Point/ And we'll kiss-kiss-kiss..." et cetera.

Perhaps it is good that adults make it hard for teens to find places to canoodle. It makes them wily and resourceful. Which are good skills for them to develop, because after the "wedding bells in the spring" come, well, baby rattles. And parents need all the cleverness they can get. Especially parents of teens.

Next song: Up and Down the Stairs

Monday, December 23, 2013

Looking at You

"Just one look/ That's all it took," sang newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Linda Ronstadt. Love at first sight has long been a favorite topic of songwriters, but here all that happens is two people looking at each other.

Oh, and noticing that the other one was looking back.

The line "I was looking at you when were you looking at me" is the first and third of every chorus. They repeat so often, it took several listens to realize that in the last chorus, the clauses reverse: "You were looking at me when I was looking at you" [emphasis mine]. In other words, "Oh, so you were looking at me as much, and in the same way, as I was looking at you."

Perhaps a more accurate word would be "scoping," or even "ogling," in the sense of "evaluating positively." Or, the pre-teen speaker rates her: "I was looking at you while you were looking at me/ Baby, you're OK!"

Cupid's arrow is swift, indeed: "It took just one glance... I didn't stand a chance," he admits, and "I took one look at you/ My heart took flight/ I saw those eyes of blue/ All I did was... sigh."

There are no missing words at that ellipsis, just a dramatic... pause. It is also to be noted that most song subjects are blue-eyed, if only because more rhymes with "blue." In "Brown-Eyed Girl" and "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man," those phrases do not end on, and so force the songwriter to rhyme, the word "brown."

We also find out the precise time frame for this tennis game of glances happening: "My heart began to pound/ When class did start/ When class was through, I knew/ I had lost my heart." So, an hour or so, when they were supposed to be listening to the math teacher.

On the next chorus, we have the question, "Did you catch my eye?" when we know for absolute certain that she did, because that is the entire message of the song. It could be rhetorical... or just amateurish. A better phrasing might be, "You sure caught my eye." Or even, "Oh, did you catch my eye" inflected to mean, "Did you ever!"

This time, the story has a happy ending-- the interest seems mutual: "The bell rang, you got up/ And walked out of the door/ Then you glanced back at me/ Now I know for sure."

Simon deserves praise for not writing "walked right out the door," which would have been obvious and lazy, but would have sent the entirely wrong message-- that she was upset at having been ogled, and stalked off, nose skyward. But he would have to learn that "glanced back" is too hard to sing.

During class, he was trying to catch her looking at him without her catching him trying to-- a near impossible game of cat-and-mouse. But then she glances back and him and he feels reassured. And of course, extremely happy that his interest is returned, and by such an "OK" person at that.

He saw her "looking at [him]" when he was "looking at [her]", and bang-- without a word exchanged-- they are in a relationship. "Now I know you're mine," he smiles, confidently.

Yes, folks, it's just that easy.

Whole textbooks have been written about the communicative nature of sight. Seeing is powerful, which is why animals have such incredible vision and why people have spy-scopes. Being seen is weak, which is why animals have camouflage and people have tinted windows.

Except when, of course, when being seen is powerful, which is why birds have stunning plumage and we have stages and TV cameras.

The fact that she is willing to let her see him look back at him lets him know that the attraction is mutual. If he plays his cards right when he actually speaks with her, and he pays off his positive first impression, his confidence may prove out.

It would be interesting to use this song as a catalyst for class discussion about the way seeing and being seen are communicative by themselves, even without words: How do you present yourself; what do you want people to think when they see you? How does it feel when people look at you positively, or negatively? What do you see, in the mirror? Are you careful in how you look at other people? How do you feel when you catch someone looking at you, like in the song?

And how are all of these questions answered differently by teenage boys and girls?

These are all things we know intuitively, yet saying them openly might really help kids, well, watch how they are looking!

Next Song: Lighthouse Point

Monday, December 16, 2013

Surrender, Please Surrender

Another Everly Brothers pastiche.

In this one, a young man pleads with a young woman: "Come on, give your love to me." The assumption is that she has "love," and can give it to whomever she chooses. He has love, too, and he wants to give it to her, but that goes without saying.

"Surrender, please surrender," he cajoles. In this metaphor, she has-- or is-- a fortress he is trying to invade, land he is attempting to conquer. He knows he will keep advancing until he wins her over, but it would be so much easier if she would just... give up already!

At least he is willing to make a commitment: "Always and forever/ So true, the way a love should be."

So that's the chorus, and the set-up. In the first verse, he tries his first tactic. He says he has been "waiting all [his] life/ To find a girlie just like you." So, he explains that she meets his criteria, and he's certainly earned her consideration, not having gone after other women until his ideal one-- she!-- has come along. (And he hopes that she will overlook his condescendingly calling her a "girlie.")

"Now that I found you, Love/ I'll play the game/ And try to make you love me, too." Once again, we have a metaphor of competition. There is a "game," and if he plays it well enough, he'll win the prize. She's just a puzzle he has to solve, that's all... a code he must crack, a challenge he must overcome.

Telling her up front about this does not seem to work, for some reason.

Onto the second tactic. Or, maybe, his first play in the "game." Rather than simply state he has earned her by waiting for her, passively, he tries to actively earn her... by offering her something in exchange for her "love"-- namely, "fun." He enumerates: "We'll laugh and stay out late/ Drinkin' at a soda shop/ Dancin' at a record hop." Surely, this is a fair trade, one she cannot refuse!

And, yet, she seems to. Curse her intransigence! What more can he do...? He comes up empty.

Onto tactic three: Conceding defeat. "I'm beggin' down on my knees," he weeps. "Come on, give your love to me."

Despite the seemingly dramatic emotions herein, the song's arrangement is up-tempo-- cute and flirty, not desperate or lugubrious. Perhaps the speaker is presenting these options to her as if to say, "Yeah, I could try all these shopworn methods, run through the motions. Or we could just cut to the chase."

One pictures Romeo, sighing beneath Juliet's balcony, acting as if he must shower her with poetry to win her... when they both know they are already in love.

It's the only way to reconcile the sprightly arrangement with the clumsiness of the woo pitched in the lyrics. Either that, or the speaker is just really not good at this, and is going to lose the game he thinks he's playing, before he even starts.

Next Song: Looking at You