Song Lyric Sunday — I Am an Island

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams took Kristian’s (Tales from the Mind of Kristian ) suggestions of Atoll, Island, Key, Lagoon, Peninsula, Reef, and Tropical as the themes. While I’m pretty sure most of my fellow bloggers will chose lovely, upbeat, romantic songs about these idyllic locales, I chose a rather cold and dark song for my pick: Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock.”

“I Am a Rock” was written by Paul Simon. It was initially performed by Simon alone as the opening track on his album The Paul Simon Songbook, which he originally recorded and released in only in the UK in August 1965. He and Art Garfunkel re-recorded it in December 1965 and included as the final track on their album Sounds of Silence, which they released in January 1966.

“I Am a Rock” was released as a single in the late spring of 1966, and the song reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It was the third single by Simon & Garfunkel to reach the top 5 (after “The Sound of Silence” and “Homeward Bound”).

The song deals with isolation and emotional detachment. It’s written from the perspective of a recluse locking himself away from the world. When the singer says, “I am a rock, I am an island,” he means he wants to be away from everything and everyone. According to Simon, the song wasn’t at all autobiographical. He was just doing his best to write a hit song at the time, and didn’t write it either for or about himself.

Here are the lyrics to “I Am a Rock.”

A winter’s day, in a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock, I am an island

I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock, I am an island

Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried

I am a rock, I am an island
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock, I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

In case you’re interested, here’s Paul Simon’s original solo release of “I Am a Rock.”

Song Lyric Sunday — Operator

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams’ theme was suggested by Di of Pensitivity101 with the words Communication, Information, News, and Telephone. I decided to go with a song that encompasses all of those words: Jim Croce’s classic “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels).”

“Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” was written and recorded by Jim Croce. The record was released on August 23, 1972 and was the second single released from Croce’s album You Don’t Mess Around with Jim. The song reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1972, spending twelve weeks on the chart.

The song relates one side of a conversation with a telephone operator. The speaker is trying to find the phone number of his former lover, who has moved to Los Angeles with his former best friend. He wants to demonstrate to both of them that he is well and over their betrayal, but admits to the operator that he is not. After the operator has given him the number, he is unable to read it, apparently due to the tears in his eyes. He then changes his mind and tells the operator not to place the call, appreciatively adding “you can keep the dime.”

The story in the song was inspired during Jim Croce’s military service in the days well before cell phones were ubiquitous. Croce would be standing in line waiting to use a an outdoor payphone and he would overhear one side of a dialogue of guys who were calling their wives or girlfriends after having received a “Dear John” letter.

Ingrid Croce, who was married to Jim from 1966 until his death in 1973, said in an interview that “Operator” is one of her favorite songs. “I can just picture it, all of them in line waiting for their 3-minute phone call,” she said. “Most of them were getting on the phone and they were okay, but some of them were getting these ‘Dear John’ letters or phone calls. That had to be heartbreaking for them.”

Here are the lyrics to “Operator.”

Operator, well could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She’s living in L.A. with my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated

Isn’t that the way they say it goes? Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine and to show
I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels

Operator, well could you help me place this call?
Well, I can’t read the number that you just gave me
There’s something in my eyes, you know it happens every time
I think about a love that I thought would save me

Isn’t that the way they say it goes? Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine and to show
I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels
No, no, no, no that’s not the way it feels

Operator, well let’s forget about this call
There’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time, ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime

Isn’t that the way they say it goes? Well, let’s forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine and to show
I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels

Song Lyric Sunday — That’s Amore

The theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is Heavenly Bodies, Planets, Moon, Sun, and Stars and was suggested by King Ben’s Grandma. I’m going with a song from 1953 from Dean Martin titled “That’s Amore.” Why? Because the lyrics reference the moon and the stars.

“That’s Amore” was a 1953 song from composer Harry Warren and lyricist Jack Brooks. It became a major hit and signature song for Dean Martin in the year it was released. Jerry Lewis, then part of the Martin and Lewis comedy team, commissioned Warren and Brooks to write songs for Martin to sing in a movie. According to Lewis, he personally and secretly paid them $30,000 in the hope that one would be a hit for Martin. “That’s Amore” was, indeed, a big hit. The song received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song of that year, but it lost to “Secret Love” from Calamity Jane starring Doris Day.

“That’s Amore” describes love the way they do it in the southern Italy town of Napoli (“Amore” is Italian for “Love”). Filled with passion, the singer compares the feeling to his favorite Italian foods: pizza and pasta fagiole. It’s a quirky romantic song poking a bit of fun at Italian stereotypes.

Here are the lyrics to “That’s Amore.”

(In Napoli where love is king
When boy meets girl here’s what they say)

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
That’s amore
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine
That’s amore
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing “Vita bella”
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
Like a gay tarantella

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta e fasule
That’s amore
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet
You’re in love
When you walk in a dream but you know you’re not dreaming, signore
Scusa mi, but you see, back in old Napoli
That’s amore

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
That’s amore (That’s amore)
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine
That’s amore (That’s amore)
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing “Vita bella” (Vita bell—Vita bella)
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
Like a gay tarantella (lucky fella)

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta e fasule
That’s amore (That’s amore)
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet
You’re in love
When you walk in a dream but you know you’re not dreaming, signore
Scusa mi, but you see, back in old Napoli
That’s amore (amore)
That’s amore

Song Lyric Sunday — Spending the Night Together

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams is getting all hot and bothered. He wants us to choose a song about having sex, talking about sex, insinuating sex, or hinting about sex. The song I chose is “Let’s Spend the Night Together” by The Rolling Stones.

“Let’s Spend the Night Together” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and was originally released by the Rolling Stones in the U.S. as a double A-sided single together with “Ruby Tuesday” in January 1967. It also appeared as the opening track on the American version of their album Between the Buttons. Marianne Faithfull, Jagger’s ex-girlfriend, claimed that he wrote this song after their first night together.

It’s unmistakable in this song that singer Mick Jagger is making a play to get the woman he’s singing to to sleep with him so that he could “satisfy her every need.” Because of the obvious reference to sex, many American radio stations either refused to play the song or bleeped out the word “night.” Hence, even though both songs, “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday,” entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in late January, by March, “Ruby Tuesday” reached number one, while “Let’s Spend the Night Together” stalled at number 55.

On January 15, 1967, the Rolling Stones, who had yet to score their first Top 10 hit in America, made their fifth appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan himself told Jagger, “Either the song goes or you go” and would likely have banned them from the program if they didn’t follow his rules. In an unusual capitulation for Jagger, when the band played this song, they altered the lyric to “let’s spend some time together.” Jagger made his displeasure clear on the live TV show by rolling his eyes when he sang the altered line. I actually watched the live show on TV and it was hilarious.

Here are the lyrics to “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

My, my, my, my
Don’t you worry ’bout what’s on your mind (oh my)
I’m in no hurry I can take my time (oh my)
I’m going red and my tongue’s getting tied (tongues’ getting tied)
I’m off my head and my mouth’s getting dry
I’m high, but I try, try, try (oh my)
Let’s spend the night together
Now I need you more than ever
Let’s spend the night together now

I feel so strong that I can’t disguise (oh my)
Let’s spend the night together
But I just can’t apologize (oh no)
Let’s spend the night together
Don’t hang me up and don’t let me down (don’t let me down)
We could have fun just groovin’ around, around and around
Oh my, my
Let’s spend the night together
Now I need you more than ever
Let’s spend the night together

Let’s spend the night together
Now I need you more than ever

You know I’m smiling baby
You need some guiding baby
I’m just deciding baby, now
I need you more than ever
Let’s spend the night together
Let’s spend the night together now

This doesn’t happen to me everyday (oh my)
Let’s spend the night together
No excuses offered anyway (oh my)
Let’s spend the night together
I’ll satisfy your every need (your every need)
And I now know you will satisfy me
Oh my, my, my, my, my
Let’s spend the night together
Now I need you more than ever
Let’s spend the night together now (oh my my my my my my)
Let’s spend the night together
Now I need ya, need ya more than ever (oh my)
Let’s spend the night together
I satisfy your every need (whoa my)
Let’s spend the night together
Now I know, I know you satisfy me (whoa my) Let’s spend the night together
I beg ya baby, (Let’s spend the night together)

Thursday Inspiration — Live on Stage

In the Before Days, prior to Covid-19, my wife and I used to go to around a dozen live stage performances a year. There is nothing like seeing a live concert where your favorite classic rock artists, like the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Peter Frampton, the Stones, CSNY, Elton John, Steely Dan, the Moody Blues — all of whom we’ve seen perform live over the years — and a host of other greats, rock the stage with their greatest hits. And yes, we’ve even been to multiple live Yanni concerts over the years!

When we lived in San Francisco, three blocks from Golden Gate Park, we used to go to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands music festivals, each of which had multiple stages spread across a large section of the park. And on the East Bay we saw live performances by artists like Jackson Browne (pictured above) and Don Henley at Berkeley’s Greek Theater amphitheater.

And we also subscribed to Broadway SF, where we went to about a half dozen live Broadway stage shows (musical and plays) each season.

But all that ended once the pandemic hit, and, quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to see another live-on-stage performance again. At least not until COVID-19 has been fully eradicated. But with all of those assholes who still refuse to get vaccinated or even where face masks, that’s highly unlikely.


Written for Jim Adams’ Thursday Inspiration prompt, where the word is “stage.” Photo credit: Fandango.