Monday, January 13, 2014

A Charmed Life

This is an interesting song, because it seems as it it may go one way, but in fact goes the opposite.

The chorus is just two lines: "Some people, some people never have no storm or strife/ Some people, some people, they lead a charmed life."

This implies that it's other people who do, not the speaker. So we settle in for a rehash of Hank Williams' "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," another shrugging litany of "I've had a lot of luck, and it's all been bad."

This expectation is nurtured by the music, which is as sad as a sigh in a fog.

The first verse is about these "some people," using the third person, again fostering the notion that, as Rod Stewart sang, "Some guys have all the luck,"... and it's not us: "When Trouble knocks upon their door, they always show such cheerfulness/[Trouble] scratches his head and away he goes, saying, "Guess I have the wrong address."

The rest of the song is about how, in fact, it is the speaker and people like himself who do in fact lead a charmed life. For instance: "A wealthy fisherman can hold all the equipment in the book/ Then people like us, we just come along-- catch 'em with a pole, a string, a hook." The next example is of a farmer who "nearly kills himself with toil," but when "people like us" start to scratch the same dirt, "What do they discover? Oil!"

The next verse is unclear. The story it tells seems like bad luck. "A man like me, he picks out a girl and she buys her wedding gown/ Their wedding day comes but his luck holds out-- just as he arrives, the church burns down." The implication is that he is lucky that the wedding could not take place. It seems he didn't want the wedding to happen, perhaps because she was rushing the relationship so much.

[Later, in the song "A Church is Burning," Simon would treat the subject of a burned-down church with an entirely different attitude.]

Then a female singer comes in and says that it's "kids like us" who are saved from the final exam-- the one they didn't study for-- by the arrest of the teacher by the police.

The last verse summarizes, in politically incorrect fashion: "A raggle-taggle gypsy band who never stays where they are put/ That's us-- and we're glad that we're us, because we're as lucky as a rabbit's foot."

It's hard to know what to make of this song. The happy, even comical, scenarios it relates are at odds with the doleful melody and harmonies. It is clever, but it would have been better served by a more upbeat presentation, like The Everly Brothers' "Wake Up, Little Suzie." Someone as charmed as the speaker claims to be should be more, well, charming.

Also, why talk about "some people" having a charmed life, implying others do... when it's the speaker and his own band of merry gypsies who are in fact charmed?

This track shows a humorous side of Simon that one wishes was packaged more humorously.

Next Song: Forever and After

No comments:

Post a Comment