A few years ago, I thought that the most depressing song in the world was “All I Really Want to Do” by Bob Dylan because I had just gotten out of a relationship and on the first time the ex and I met again, she put that song on when we were driving around.
I ain't lookin' to compete with you,
Beat or cheat or mistreat you,
Simplify you, classify you,
Deny, defy or crucify you.
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you.
Now, because I’m no longer depressed, I think the song is hilarious, as does Dylan who laughs while singing one of the verses. I used to see it as a post-break up track but it’s actually Dylan, I believe, coming up with excuses so that he doesn’t have to get into a relationship he has no interest in. And the excuses get exceedingly funnier: “advertise you,” “define you,” “fake you out,” “forsake you out.”
I’m not writing this posting about solely “All I Really Want to Do,” but more along the lines of song’s that your perception of changes when your mood changes. Or, in the case of Frank Sinatra’s “Soliloquy,” it changes because of a friend.
Earlier this year or possibly even last, I made a mix-CD for a friend with “Soliloquy” as, if memory serves, the last track. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and appearing on The Concert Sinatra, I was instantly drawn to the track because it’s lengthy, funny and fun to sing.
The first half of the song deals with Sinatra, a father-to-be, wondering what his son will think of him and of all the great times they’re going to have together. Then, it dawns on him, what happens if “he is a she”? After all, “You can have fun with a son/ But you got to be a father to a girl.”
The finale of the song takes on this kind of tone:
I gotta get ready before she comes
Gotta make certain that she won't be dragged up in slums with a lot o' bums like me
She's gotta be sheltered and fed and dressed in the best that money can buy!
I never knew how to get money but, I'll try, by God! I'll try!
I'll go out and make it or steal it
Or take it or die!
It’s way overdone but if anyone can handle lyrics this heartfelt, it’s Ol’ Blue Eyes. But I never gave much thought to this final verse, but after asking for feedback for the mix I had made my friend, she said that she started crying hearing the song.
I had forgotten while making it that she never really knew her father and that he wasn’t the “gotta be sheltered and fed and dressed in the best” kind of guy. Had I remembered, I’m not sure if I would put on the mix.
But it was odd seeing this song in a whole different light: instead of a funny tale about what life’s going to be like with a son or a daughter, it now dawned on me that it could also be seen as the act of a father being petrified on if he’s going to be a good Dad or not.
Stupid, clever Rodgers and Hammerstein…
Whenever I listen to these two songs and others like them, it’s unfathomable to me how I could have seen the other perspective of the lyrics. But I guess that’s the wonder of song.