Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'Cause I'm a Creep, Dept.

As everyone knows, the '60s were a time of tremendous evil. Many irritating tropes of our times were conceived under casual sedation in over-aircon'd rooms while simulated stereo recordings droned in the background. Astonishingly malignant mindsets were more than tolerated; yes, they were even embraced. One such has been recently displayed on the stylish TV smash Mad Men as if it were a medieval gynaecological device: the sophisticated, pervasive misogyny of the time.

Difficult as it may be to believe in these enlightened times, when women can freely climax without fear of confinement in grimy mental institutions, at one point, in the confluence of Cold War paranoia, Eisenhower-era conformism, unregulated chemical derangement and the flop sweat stink of White Male Fear, misogyny of the most corrosive sort was celebrated in the popular culture, and didactic materials were devised and disseminated to instruct women, those fragile vessels, in how not to tipple-topple the status quo with untoward behavior or attitudes.

One prominent example comes to us from the pens of '60s pop music boffins Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who, in the song "Wives and Lovers," reveal an attitude toward women not unlike that which one might adopt in dealing with froward children at mealtime, as Hal David essentially tells young brides that, if they don't eat all their vegetables, the boogieman is going to jump out of the closet and bumboozle them.

"Wives and Lovers," in Jack Jones' Top 20 version, is a lightly swinging ditty perfect for scoring those martini-pitcher evenings. One can tune out the words and enjoy it as a classic pop confection. So, what makes this song a leading candidate for creepiest song of a decade filled with them (don't get me started on "Somethin' Stupid") is the rub between the song's light'n'easy arrangement and the chilling message of its words. Had the lyrics been set to a section of Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" or even the Sabs' "Iron Man," the fit would've been more congruent. Instead, you get a frothy "Bluesette"-sounding Marlo Thomas theme song with an undertone of rusty Gillette blades in the medicine cabinet ready for long cuts down-not-across in a warm Tuinal bath.

Basically, the message is: listen, sweetheart, your housewifely duties don't stop at rearing the 2.5, cleaning the house and fixing his grub--so, get yourself in pearls and heels as he gets off the 5:30 from Grand Central and pour him a drink while premoistening your business for his pleasure. Otherwise, he's going to plow his blonde, fit and ready secretary through a hotel headboard, and it'll be All Your Fault.

So, yes, Creepiest Song of the '60s. Thank you, Hal David, I can only imagine your home life at the time.


Wives and Lovers

(Burt Bacharach & Hal David)

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don't think because there's a ring on your finger
You needn't try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I'm warning you...

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He's almost here...

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you'd wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love
Time to get ready
Time to get ready for love

7 comments:

幸運之神 said...
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オテモヤン said...
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orderfire said...

Right up there in the creepy scale is the wink wink eyebrow-wagglin' early times date rape anthem, "Walkin my Baby Back Home".

She's 'fraid of the dark
So I have to park
Outside of her door till it's light
She says if I try
To kiss her she'll cry
I dry her tears all through the night!

Um yeahhh fellas. Nothing says romance like a teary refusal. No means OH HELLZ YES!!

the sobsister said...

OF,

I'd never focused on that bit. I always wondered about the
"we started to pet
and that's when I get
her talcum all over my vest" bit.

Umm...talcum? Above the waist and over the shirt, Romeo!

orderfire said...

I think talCUM is "short" for something else.

And when I say "short", I mean "long".
If you "know" what "I" mean.
!!!
EW!

Anonymous said...

Good god. I'd be the last person, the very last person on earth, to prescribe either Ridalin or what might be ungenteelly termed a "Deep Dickin'"...... but something tells me you could benefit from a heavy dose of both. Stat.

the sobsister said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your thoughtful suggestion that I could benefit from "Ridalin" (sp) and a "Deep Dickin'."

Why don't I file that under "let's not and say we did"?

Thanks!