Friday, April 23, 2010

Three Thoughts on One Song

One Dos Trois

She wrote poetry. She only swore in French. She even wore a beret.

And every guy in the village was desperate to impress her. By swimming out to the floating dock. By picking flowers in the foothills. By trying to buy her presents (which she'd never accept because she always seemed above it all and nothing was ever quite cool enough for her).

But, through affectation or poor memory, she'd never remember any of the guys who talked to her.

And, when they saw her again, they were all too polite to say "were you worried that there was a tiny portion of my heart that you left unbroken?"

One day, she disappeared from the village, leaving only the beret behind on a bench.

Guys gathered in the park, staring at the beret, wondering where she'd gone, and discussing why she'd left the beret behind.

I have no proof, but I think she blended into the crowd, cursing now in English, burning all her poetry, and trying to be a normal girl.


I misheard the lyrics. For years.

I thought the song went "Girl don't tell me you're right." Because it was an argument about misunderstanding each other where both people insist they knew what really happened.

And when the guy insists he'll see this girl in the summer and forget her when he gets back to school, we never quite believe him. And we never quite believe the girl wasn't right.

The lyrics actually go "Girl don't tell me you'll write." Which is stupid (although not as stupid as "I met you last summer when I came up to stay with my Gram"). Because that makes it only about a summer romance and the girl not writing. And that's just not all that interesting.

But then again, lyrics never were Brian Wilson's strong suit. He said he wanted to write "teenage symphonies to God" -- and there aren't any words in symphonies (teenage or otherwise).


To take attention away from the lyrics, maybe the best thing would be to take the words (or at least the English words) out of the equation.

Maybe if they were sung in French.

By a band from Pamplona, Spain. Led by a female singer.

Who, conspicuously, is not wearing a beret... or forgetting every guy she meets.

Les symphonies d'adolescent à Dieu indeed.


William V. Madison said...

Nicely written, and I do take your point. But some of the more famous symphonies do incorporate language, with extensive passages of singing, whether by soloists or by chorus or both.

For example, Mahler considered the voice one more instrumental section in his orchestra. Beethoven’s Ninth even contains a hit song, the “Hymn to Joy” that we heard so much of when the Berlin Wall fell.

Whether Wilson’s name should be invoked alongside those of Beethoven and Mahler is another question. Maybe it’s kinder to let God decide.

As for the clip — very unkind of them to lock the girl singer out of the studio while they were recording, wasn’t it? At the very least, they might have thrown her a microphone, so that we could hear her over the percussion. I hope she didn’t catch cold; she doesn’t seem to have much to wear. Not even a béret.

jb said...

This is a great, great bit of writing. The last line of the first part ("I think she blended into the crowd . . .") is going to be in my head all day.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Thanks, I just watched i mean listened to it twice. French always sounds great coming from a woman, doesn't it? I guess they don't call it the Romantic language for nuthin' ...