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)

Song Lyric Sunday — This, That, and the Other

I’m am so honored that my blogging buddy, Jim Adams, has chosen to use the title of my blog, “This, That, and the Other,” as his theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. And thank you, Jim, for your extraordinarily kind words. If you could have seen my face beneath that bag, which I keep over my head, you’d have seen me blushing. That said, today is not my birthday.

This was harder than I thought it would be. There are thousands of songs with “this,” “that,” or “other” in their lyrics. But I decided that I was going to have some fun with this week’s “Fandango edition.” Some of you might know that I can be a bit pedantic when it comes to English grammar and usage. So I chose a song that contains both “this and that” and “this or that” in its lyrics and also pokes fun at my pedantic grammarian nature. That song is “Conjunction Junction.”

“Conjunction Junction” is the most popular “Schoolhouse Rock!” song. The music was written by Bob Dorough, the lyrics by Jack Sheldon and Terri Morel. It was sung by Jack Sheldon and animated by the people at the commercial animation studio Phil Kimmelman & Associates. The song marked Sheldon’s debut in the series.

In the song, a railroad switchman busies himself with hooking up clauses and phrases, which are represented by freight cars, using the conjunctions “and,” “or,” and “but.” The function of conjunctions, meanwhile, is explained in an Andrews Sisters blues style.

“Schoolhouse Rock!” was an American programming series of animated musical educational short films (and later, videos) that aired during the Saturday morning children’s programming block on the U.S. television network ABC. The themes covered included grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. The series’ original run lasted from 1973 to 1984. It was revived in 1993 with both old and new episodes airing and ran until 1996. Additional episodes were produced in 2009 for direct-to-video release.

The series was the idea of David McCall, an advertising executive, who noticed his young son was struggling with learning multiplication tables, despite being able to memorize the lyrics of many Rolling Stones songs. McCall hired musician Bob Dorough to write a song that would teach multiplication, which became “Three Is a Magic Number.” Tom Yohe, an illustrator at McCall’s adverting agency, heard the song and created visuals to accompany it. Radford Stone, who was in charge of the ABC account for the ad agency, suggested they pitch it as a television series. It caught the attention of Michael Eisner, then vice president of ABC, and cartoon director Chuck Jones.

Whereas the first season of “Schoolhouse Rock!” focused on math with Multiplication Rock, a collection of animated shorts adapting the multiplication tables, the next season, called Grammar Rock, focused on grammar, which included nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech (such as conjunctions, explained in “Conjunction Junction”).

Here are the lyrics to “Conjunction Junction.”

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Conjunction Junction, how’s that function?
I got three favorite cars
That get most of my job done.
Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?
I got “and”, “but”, and “or”,
They’ll get you pretty far.

“And”:
That’s an additive, like “this and that”.
“But”:
That’s sort of the opposite,
“Not this *but* that”.
And then there’s “or”:
O-R, when you have a choice like
“This or that”.
“And”, “but”, and “or”,
Get you pretty far.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up two boxcars and making ’em run right.
Milk and honey, bread and butter, peas and rice.
Hey that’s nice!
Dirty but happy, digging and scratching,
Losing your shoe and a button or two.
He’s poor but honest, sad but true,
Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up two cars to one
When you say something like this choice:
“Either now or later”
Or no choice:
“Neither now nor ever”

Hey that’s clever!
Eat this or that, grow thin or fat,
Never mind, I wouldn’t do that,
I’m fat enough now!

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up phrases and clauses that balance, like:
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
He cut loose the sandbags,
But the balloon wouldn’t go any higher.
Let’s go up to the mountains,
Or down to the sea.
You should always say “thank you”,
Or at least say “please”.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses
In complex sentences like:
“In the mornings, when I am usually wide awake,
I love to take a walk through the gardens and down by the lake,
Where I often see a duck and a drake,
And I wonder as I walk by
Just what they’d say if they could speak,
Although I know that’s an absurd thought.”

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up cars and making ’em function.
Conjunction Junction, how’s that function?
I like tying up words and phrases and clauses.
Conjunction Junction, watch that function.
I’m going to get you there if you’re very careful.
Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
I’m going to get you there if you’re very careful.
Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
I’m going to get you there if you’re very careful.

Song Lyric Sunday — Pleasant Valley

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams (via Paula Light) has given us Delightful, Pleasant, and Sweet. I’m going with the first song that came to mind, even though my guess is that a lot of others will select this song as well: “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

“Pleasant Valley Sunday” was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The Monkees recorded the song in June of 1967 and released it a month later. The single peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured in the second season of the Monkees’ television series. The song also appeared on the fourth Monkees album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd, in November 1967.

The song was inspired by a street named Pleasant Valley Way in the Manhattan suburb of West Orange, New Jersey, where Goffin and King lived at the time. The two wrote the song about their dissatisfaction with life in the suburbs.

According to Carole King’s autobiography, her then-husband Goffin disliked their suburban life and wrote lyrics to document this feeling. The lyrics were a social commentary on status symbols, creature comforts, life in suburbia, and “keeping up with the Joneses.”

The tempo and some of the lyrics in the Monkees recording of the song were fairly different from King’s original 1966 demo recording, which is presented here.

Interestingly, I was working in midtown Manhattan and lived in West Orange from the late 70s to the mid 80s, only about a quarter of a mile west of Pleasant Valley Way. I actually thought life in that New Jersey suburban community was, indeed, quite pleasant.

Here are the Lyrics to “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn

Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care

See Mrs. Gray, she’s proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green, he’s so serene
He’s got a TV in every room

Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understand

Creature comfort goals, they only numb my soul
And make it hard for me to see
(Ah ah ah) ah thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of scenery

Ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta
Ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta

Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land

Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)