Song Lyric Sunday — Playing It Cool

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams has given us “Cool,” “Freeze,” “Heat,” and “Melt.” I thought I’d play it cool with the Beatles “Hey Jude,” which contains the classic line, “It’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder.”

“Hey Jude,” released as a non-album single in August 1968, was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. It was a number one hit in many countries around the world. Its nine-week run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 tied the all-time record in 1968 for the longest run at the top of the U.S. charts.

The song evolved from “Hey Jules,” something McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon’s 5-year-old son Julian when his parents were getting a divorce after John left his wife and Julian’s mother, Cynthia, for Yoko Ono. The change to “Jude” was inspired by the character “Jud” in the musical Oklahoma!

The lyrics espouse a positive outlook on a sad situation, while also encouraging “Jude” to pursue his opportunities to find love. McCartney said he wrote the line, “Don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better” while thinking about how he could make Jules feel a little better.

Julian said that growing up he’d always felt closer to Paul McCartney than to his own father, but he didn’t realize that the song was written for him until he was a teenager, which was around the time that he reconnected with his father, John, whom he would visit in New York from time to time until his death.

Here are the lyrics to “Hey Jude.”

Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey, Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain,
Hey, Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool
Who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah nah

Hey, Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in,
Hey, Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you,
Hey, Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder

Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah nah yeah

Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better, better, better, better, better… oh!

Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (Jude)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (don’t make it bad, Jude)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (take a sad song and make it better)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (oh, Jude)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (Jude, hey, Jude, whoa)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude (ooh)
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
Nah, nah nah, nah nah, nah, nah, nah nah,
Hey, Jude
[fade out]

Song Lyric Sunday —Along Comes Mary

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has given us the names Maria, Marie, and Mary as the theme. I chose the song “Along Cones Mary by the Association.

“Along Comes Mary” was composed by Tandyn Almer, an American songwriter, musician, and record producer, for the American pop/rock group, the Association. It was recorded in 1966 and released on the Association’s debut album And Then… Along Comes the Association. It was their first hit and reached number seven on the U.S. charts.

There was a lot of speculation regarding what this song was about. Some believed it was a “slice of life” song about a man troubled by all the corruption of his “world.” Then along comes Mary. At first she seems pure as the driven snow. But then he starts to see her as a heartbreaker who uses men and tosses them aside. The song serves as a warning to other men to stay away from Mary, if they can.

Others interpreted the song to be about marijuana, which is also known as “Mary Jane.” And some believed the lyrics were about Mary as the virgin mother.

I used to love this song when it came out, but I never really paid that much attention to the lyrics. Now reading them, they don’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

So listen to the song, read the lyrics, and let me know what you think. Is it about a girl named Mary, marijuana, the Virgin Mary, or just a word salad set to music?

Every time I think that I’m the only one who’s lonely
Someone calls on me
And every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse
And curse those faults in me

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks , and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks
Whose sickness is the games they play
And when the masquerade is played and neighbor folks make jokes
As who is most to blame today

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to set them free, and let them see reality
From where she got her name
And will they struggle much when told that such a tender touch as hers
Will make them not the same

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

And when the morning of the warning’s passed, the gassed
And flaccid kids are flung across the stars
The psychodramas and the traumas gone
The songs are left unsung and hung upon the scars

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to see the stains, the dead remains of all the pains
She left the night before
Or will their waking eyes reflect the lies, and make them
Realize their urgent cry for sight no more

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

Song Lyric Sunday — Hit the Road Jack

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams has given us the names Jack and John. The obvious choice for me was to go with the Ray Charles classic, “Hit the Road Jack.”

“Hit the Road Jack” was written by Ray Charles’ good friend Percy Mayfield, an R&B singer who was badly disfigured in a car accident soon after he started performing. Mayfield cut back his touring and made his mark as a prolific songwriter, with many of his compositions performed by Charles.

The Ray Charles recording of “Hit the Road Jack” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1961, and won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording.

The song is about a woman telling her man that he’s got to leave. She knows she’s stuck with someone who isn’t worth holding onto, and she’s kicking him out. The guy begs and pleads for another chance, but he knows it’s hopeless.

The singers playing the woman’s role in the recording are Charles’ backup group, the Raelettes, with lead singer Margie Hendrix.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more
What’d you say?

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more

Oh woman, oh woman, don’t treat me so mean
You’re the meanest old woman that I’ve ever have seen
I guess if you say so
I’ll have to pack my things and go (that’s right)

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more
What’d you say?

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more

Now baby, listen baby, don’t you treat me this way
‘Cause I’ll be back on my feet some day
Don’t care if you do, ’cause it’s understood
You ain’t got no money, you just ain’t no good
Well, I guess if you say so
I’ll have to pack my things and go (that’s right)

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more
What’d you say?

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more

Well (don’t you come back no more)
Uh, what you say? (don’t you come back no more)
I didn’t understand you (don’t you come back no more)
You can’t mean that (don’t you come back no more)
Oh now baby please (don’t you come back no more)
What you tryin’ to do to me? (don’t you come back no more)
Oh, don’t treat me like that, baby (don’t you come back no more)

Song Lyric Sunday — Size Matters

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams is all about size, as in “ Big,” “Large,” “Little,” “Small,” “Tall,” and “Tiny.” I decided to turn on the Wayback Machine and harken back to the days before Jimmy Dean was hawking sausage and was an American country music singer and television host. Yes, I went with Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John.”

“Big Bad John” was a country song written and performed by Jimmy Dean. He wrote and composed it in collaboration with Roy Acuff. Released in September 1961, it became a Billboard Hot 100 number one song by November. It won Dean the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording.

The song is about a mysterious and quiet miner who earned the nickname “Big John” because of his height, weight, and muscular physique. One day, a support timber cracked at the mine where John worked. The situation looked hopeless until John “grabbed a saggin’ timber, gave out with a groan / and like a giant oak tree just stood there alone,” then “gave a mighty shove,” opening a passage and allowing the 20 other miners to escape the mine.

Just as the other miners were about to re-enter the mine with the tools necessary to save him, the mine fully collapsed and John was believed to have died in the depths of the mine. The mine itself was never reopened, but a marble stand was placed in front of it, with the words “At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man – Big John.”

Dean wrote the song, which was not based upon a specific mining event, on a flight from New York to Nashville when he realized he needed another song for his recording session.

The Big John character in the song was based upon fellow actor John Mentoe (“Destry Rides Again”), who was 6’5″ tall.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

(Big John, big John)
Every mornin’ at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said hi to Big John

Somebody said he came from New Orleans
Where he got in a fight over a Cajun Queen
And a crashin’ blow from a huge right hand
Sent a Louisiana fellow to the promised land, big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Then came the day at the bottom of the mine
When a timber cracked and men started cryin’
Miners were prayin’ and hearts beat fast
And everybody thought that they’d breathed their last, ‘cept John

Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well
Grabbed a saggin’ timber, gave out with a groan
And like a giant oak tree he just stood there alone, big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

And with all of his strength he gave a mighty shove
Then a miner yelled out “there’s a light up above!”
And twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave
Now there’s only one left down there to save, big John

With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Now, they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man
Big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)
(Big John) big bad John

Song Lyric Sunday — Cinnamon Girl

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams tried to spice things up, giving us the words Cinnamon, Mint, Parsley, Pepper, Rosemary, Sage, Salt, and Thyme to use as our theme. As tempted as I was to go with Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair — Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme,” I decided, instead, to go with Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.”

“Cinnamon Girl” was a song written and sung by Neil Young from his 1969 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, with his band, Crazy Horse. The single was released the following year and it reached number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970.

Young wrote “Cinnamon Girl,” along with two other songs from that same album — “Cowgirl in the Sand” and “Down by the River” — while suffering from the flu and running a 103° fever at his home in Topanga, California.

The song is about a singer daydreaming for a girl to love, singing that he waits “between shows” for his lover. Young never said specifically who the Cinnamon Girl was, although he once said that he “wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs eyes playing finger cymbals.” Ochs was a folk/protest singer active in the ‘60s who had issues with his mental stability and paranoia.

Young’s muse for the song was supposedly ‘60s folk singer Jean Ray. He admitted to having a crush on Ray. When asked if she was the Cinnamon Girl, Young said, “Only part of the song. There’s images in there that have to do with Jean and there’s images that have to do with other people.”

Here are the lyrics to the song.

I wanna live
With a cinnamon girl
I could be happy
The rest of my life
With a cinnamon girl

A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together
Chasing the moonlight
My cinnamon girl

Ten silver saxes
A bass with a bow
The drummer relaxes
And waits between shows
For his cinnamon girl

A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together
Chasing the moonlight
My cinnamon girl

Pa send me money now
I’m gonna make it somehow
I need another chance
You see your baby loves to dance
Yeah…yeah…yeah