November 1, 2007

Get a new job, Bob

lynda_carter_gallery_4.jpg The New York Times is not known for having the world's hippest music critics, but surely they should be reasonably conversant with Paul Simon hits from 1975.

Here's Stephen Holden reviewing a cabaret performance by Lynda Carter:

The other [high point] was Paul Simonís ď50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,Ē a song I never completely understood until Ms. Carter introduced it as ďa song of seduction.Ē Suddenly its sly, subversive jive talk made sleazy sense.

And here are some of that song's hard to completely understand lyrics:

She said why donít we both just sleep on it tonight/ And I believe in the morning youíll begin to see the light/ And then she kissed me, and I realized she probably was right/ There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Confusing! If only the subtle seductress had first alerted us to the possibility that her words carried a hidden meaning that might be lost or misconstrued!

Honestly, this is not like being told that Alison is a song about murder.

Related: The other 45 ways to leave your lover and the same joke, shorter, but with bigger afros, from a 1977 episode of The Jacksons Variety Show. Also, a great solo performance of Alison, purportedly from Elvis Costello's first TV appearance.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Okay, that was freaky... 50 Ways came up on my Yahoo Launch station just as I finished reading this.

I seem to recall skits based on the song on the Donny and Marie show as well.

Dude - don't anyone tell Holden about the sly, subversive jive talk hidden in Jackson Browne's Rosie.

That reading of "Alison" is pretty ham fisted. The line, and I thought this was obvious, "I don't know if you are loving some( )body . . . I only know it isn't mine" is cute and typical Costello word-play because you think he's singing "somebody," when in fact he's singing "some body." So, ha ha, what "isn't mine" is the body being loved, not Alison's paternally dubious fetus. Bad freshman Straussian overinterpretation!

Oudemia - totally agreed on that line. Obvs there are multiple meanings all working at once here and I wouldn't attempt a literal "what's the real story" interpretation like this guy. But I do find it plausible that murder is implied in lines such as "Sometimes I wish that I could STOP you from talking" and "I think somebody better put out the big light" etc.

Fair enough. It's actually strikes me as a sort of Nice Guy(tm) anthem. (Don't know if you're familiar with that designation for the "I'm nice so I'm entitled to a girlfriend. Why do girls only want to date assholes?" type of fellow.) Sort of "frustrated weenie-dom."

... not to mention, of course, the double meaning of "my aim is true."

Re: Nice Guy Anthem. Never heard the term, but the genre should probably be retired as there's never going to be a more perfect example than this [MP3]

Yes! That's pretty much it exactly.

I always pictured Eva Braun as a star-fucker than a real girlfriend, though I guess when nobody will love you, anything counts as a girlfriend.

Top paper's music critic doesn't understand utterly unsubtle pop song for 32 years until it's pointed out by the governor from Super Troopers? Well, isn't that ironic.

At least we can all agree with the newspaper of record that a Lynda Carter performance is revelatory in oh so many ways. And wasn't there a Scooby Doo episode where they cracked the mystery of the Paul Simon lyrics? Those meddling kids!

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