Thursday, May 15, 2008


The other day I started out for a trip to town in The Tamale (bright red Dodge Grand Caravan) when I realized I didn’t have any CDs to listen to. This only happens when I get tired of what I’ve been playing for a while, bring them in, and forget to select some fresh ones the next time I go out. Anyway, I tuned in to a local radio station, and happened to catch Paul McCartney singing “Silly Love Songs.” Just when I was wondering what I might write my next post about…there it was. What a happy co-inkydink!

It seems that McCartney wrote “Silly Love Songs” as a rebuttal to the criticism that much of what he wrote was lightweight, sentimental stuff. He asked his detractors, lyrically, “What’s wrong with that?” The obvious answer is, “Well, now that you mention it, Sir Paul, nothing really.” Some of the great enduring standards of all time have a definite poofy-ness about them. Songs like…and then I stopped. Every time I thought of a title, I immediately found some reason why it shouldn’t be judged too harshly. Some love songs are practically novelty songs, and don’t pretend to be serious. Then there are a few songs that are based on children’s nursery rhymes to begin with – we certainly can’t expect great depth there. I’m almost beginning to think that deeply emotional, serious love songs and the exception, not the rule. We often make the distinction between “funny haha” and “funny peculiar” so why not also make a distinction between fluffy love and the industrial strength kind?

All this brings up another side of the discussion – what about the intention of the composer? Many love songs are obviously a light-hearted look at human emotions to begin with. Shouldn’t that be taken into consideration? Think of the similar situation in the art world. Who’s to say that a black velvet portrait of Elvis cryin' in the chapel doesn’t move some people just as much as Whistler’s Mother? No, I don’t think we should be too quick to turn our noses up at something just because snooty critics have deemed it unworthy. I’m all about accepting everybody and everything! As John Lennon would say, “Power to the People Right On!”

Here's a couple of “silly” love song oldies I’m particularly fond of:

James Hold the Ladder Steady, Sue Thompson
Many Sue Thompson songs are really cute: “Norman,” “Paper Tiger,” and even “Sad Movies.” I especially like this one about eloping. I’m sure couples do still elope, but I’m guessing the whole sneak-out-the-second-floor-window-in-the-middle-of-the-night-down-a-ladder scenario is a thing of the past.

Baby Talk, Jan and Dean
A cute little number about love at the pre-school level; kind of baby doo-wop, not to mention great old footage of J and D in those malt shop jackets. BTW, I nearly drove myself loopy trying to figure out what those IFIC buttons meant. I Googled it, and found that IFIC could stand for the International Fidelity Insurance Company, or the International Federation of Infection Control; the International Food Information Council or the International Fire Investigators and Consultants. None of these seemed to quite fit. Then I scrolled down to the comments left by other YouTubers, and discovered the performance was sponsored by Beechnut Gum (note the gal in the audience giving her gum a real aerobic workout!) and their slogan at the time was Flavor-IFIC. Another rock and roll mystery solved!

And a couple more based on nursery rhymes:

Mockingbird, Charlie and Inez Foxx
I certainly don’t mind the James Taylor/Carly Simon version, but this one is definitely the real deal.

Pat-a-Cake, Bill Haley and His Comets
This one isn’t currently on YouTube, but I found this on the following site. Unfortunately, out of a 30-second clip, you only get about 4 seconds of vocal right at the end, but hey, Haley is Haley, and he always rocks the jukebox.

And, finally, here's the sweet little song that started it all -
Silly Love Songs, Paul McCartney

Photo of Ma Whistler from Wikipedia Commons

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