Besides the difference in group names, I’ve noticed the lyrical love interest names reflect our changing culture. I don’t know many women under 30 named Alice, and seldom read a birth announcement welcoming a brand new Alice. But my favorite old …
My oldies-but-goodies nostalgia escalated after last week’s music column, and I can’t get certain tunes out of my head. Every time I try to get something accomplished, here comes Ohio Express singing “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” again. And when it’s a choice between being productive in the present or living in the past, the present doesn’t stand a chance.
Besides the difference in group names, I’ve noticed the lyrical love interest names reflect our changing culture. I don’t know many women under 30 named Alice, and seldom read a birth announcement welcoming a brand new Alice. But my favorite old singers loved lots of Alices.
I often wondered if “Smokie,” who sang “Living Next Door to Alice,” was in love with the same girl as Boyce and Hart, singing “You’re Still my Favorite Girlfriend, Alice Long.” Maybe she got tired of the drama, moved away, fell in love with Arlo Guthrie and opened “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Then there was Maria, a secretary who also got around. R.B. Greaves sang “Take a Letter, Maria,” in which he’s dictating a letter addressed to his cheating wife asking for a divorce. Soon after that letter was finished, the boss became the cheater, confessing his love to Maria and inviting her to dinner. Not only wasn’t he divorced yet, but the envelope hadn’t even been sealed.
Speaking of the blues, everyone was blue back in the day. “Goodtime Charlie” had the blues, Crystal Gayle’s brown eyes suddenly turned blue, and Michael Johnson was so darn blue, he was “Bluer than Blue.” He tried positive thinking with, “After you go, I can catch up on my reading … have a lot more time for sleeping … have a lot more room in my closet … stay out all night long if I feel like it … run through the house screaming, and no one will ever hear me. I really should be glad, but ...”
His “pro” list also included, “I don’t have to miss no TV shows, I can start my whole life over, change the numbers on the telephone …” But one “con” made all the pros moot: “… but tonight will sure be colder, and I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad; you’re the only light this empty room has ever had …”
Hey, in my mind, his arguments against ever wanting her back were totally convincing. But I suppose if his room had that heating problem and was so dimly lit, it’s understandable he might feel a little blue. But bluer than blue?
Bobby Vinton may have been even bluer than Johnson, if that’s possible. The debate rages on whether blue on blue is sadder than bluer than blue; obviously neither is desirable. Vinton wailed, “Blue on blue, heartache on heartache, blue on blue, now that we are through…blue-on-blue, heartache-on-heartache, and I find I can’t get over losing you.”
This wasn’t the only time Bob had known heartache and blueness. He had trouble forgetting another gal who wore “Blue Velvet.” In the song’s tragic ending, it’s apparent he never did completely get over her, when he admitted, “… and I still can see blue velvet through my tears.”
I can sympathize; I’m still hung up on a girl who wore cashmere, who jilted me many years ago.
Blueness over a lost love is only multiplied during the holiday season. Even Elvis, who could have had any woman he wanted, probably including Sophia Loren, had a “Blue Christmas” without some undisclosed ex-love. It was sadder than sad to hear him bemoan, “You’ll be doing all right, with your Christmas of white…but I’ll have a blue, blue blue blue Christmas.” It may not have been bluer than blue, but it was blue times four, which is pretty darn blue by anyone’s yardstick.
But let’s all cheer up and recall a great song with a truly happy ending — one about redemption and forgiveness. He had done his time, was coming home, and needed to know what was and wasn’t his. All he asked of the gal he left behind was that if she still loved and wanted him, to “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘round the Old Oak Tree.” If he didn’t see the ribbon, he’d simply “stay on the bus, forget about us…” and put the blame on himself.
You, like me, probably cried to hear, “Now the whole damn bus was cheering, and I can’t believe I see … a hundred yellow ribbons ’round the old, old oak tree.” Let’s just hope it wasn’t that skank Maria again.