Monday, April 28, 2014

Tick Tock

This jumpy little number is musically very similar to "Duke of Earl" and "Runaround Sue." Also, Simon's own "Lone Teen Ranger."

Content-wise, it reminds me of a study I read of, in a way, indignation. Subjects were asked to sort the same basket of beads in various ways, over and over, until they had what the researchers called "an attack of dignity" and refused to sort them one more time.

Various philosophers have put it:  "That's all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!" or "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" or perhaps most simply "We're not gonna take it/ No, we ain't gonna take it/ We're not gonna take it anymore!"

Here, Simon-as-Landis writes about waiting for his date to show. As the song starts, "She's two hours late/ and now it's almost 8 o'clock." Which means she was supposed to arrive at 6:00. Already, in the first verse, our hero is griping, "I'm looking at my watch/ I wonder how long I must wait."

By the second verse, he wonders if, in the parlance of the self-help book, she's just not that into him. "I wonder if she stood me up," he beings to realize. And then comes the attack of dignity: "She can't do that to me!"

Except... either he is very desperate or she is very attractive, because, after five hours: "Now it's almost 11 o'clock/ I guess I'll wait and see." Then he even gives her another hour on top of that! "Now it's almost 12 o'clock/ And I'm here in a stew/ Should I stay or go back home?/ I don't know what to do.

Finally-- after six hours!-- he gives up. "One thing I know for sure/ That girl and I are through."

If this is the death of a relationship, we see the protagonist-- or maybe just "agonist," as he is in so much agony-- working through the stages of grief (which even their theorist regrets having called "stages" as they are not necessarily ordered; they are more like "aspects"): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

He doesn't believe she is intentionally this late-- "Where can she be?" Maybe something happened to her? He is then furious-- "She can't do that to me!" He bargains, giving her yet another hour.

We don't see him being sad, per se, but then we only get to hear his comments on the hour. Finally, in a mix of anger and acceptance, he dumps her in absentia. Whatever her reason was, he certainly gave her enough of his time, and he will give her no more.

The upbeat tempo of this song, ostensibly about how slow time goes when one is waiting, might be mocking of the speaker. What a dope he is, waiting six hours for his date. Whatever they were going to do on that date is certainly over by now... the movie concluded, the restaurant closed. Yet, here he sits, the only sound the "tick-tock" of his watch.

Even at the end of the song, when he knows he is going to leave her, he does not say, "I have given her long enough and I'm going home now." Maybe this overly patient young man is supposed to serve as a warning to listeners-- don't let this happen to you!

Next Song: Back Seat Driver

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