Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Post-Viet Nam Pessimism in a Soft Rock Song

It's been sometimes said that when it comes to rock music, the listener should focus on the beat, as opposed to the lyrics.  Indeed, this is often because the lyrics are so trite and provide a scaffolding for the song, like some of the really silly plots of operas.

I recently looked into the lyrics of one soft rock song that I like for its arrangement, and this is how I interpreted it:

The singer/narrator begins by describing to a woman how a bauble is displayed to advantage against her skin; and that he would like to engage in outdoors, nocturnal coitus with her while under starlight in a desert setting.  Sounds sexy, yet slightly salacious if they're not married or even long acquainted.

The singer feels that he might come to know her in the Biblical sense, whether as his lover or as his friend with benefits.  But something makes him uneasy about it all: this might be simply a one night stand, and no more easy sex afterwards.  But that's alright: he doesn't have unrealistic expectations about it all.  He's already standing on the ground, and will take what he can get.  At least she's likely to be an acceptable sexual partner.

Well, it's hardly a love song, but maybe it's a musical reflection of that era of confusion in the American psyche.  The 70's were a musical era with its dark side in lyrics: American women were scorned, people were crossing deserts with nameless horses, a woman plaintively declared that "It's too late, baby," a singer waxed maudlin over one of the Carolinas, men moaning about cakes left out in the rain, a guy dying, a woman inviting another to reside with her in a graveyard (I think), all of the Windy City dying, a weird one about American Pies (kind of pie unnamed) and so on.

Is this only in this song; or does this reflect a more general malaise of that time?  This song was released over 40 years ago, during the latter days of Viet Nam war.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  Or maybe it is symptomatic of the Nixonian era.  

But the joy of love, the romantic ideal, the constancy of true hearts is not found in the lyrics.  Was this the course of love in the 1970's?  It must have been a sad time.  On the other hand, maybe the infectious beat provided a complex sense of optimism despite the lyrics.  Well, at least I can deconstruct the song and sound very profound while doing so.  

A peaceful, easy feeling without complications.


Duckbutt said...

I remember that a lot of the music got tedious back then, and the country music of that time shined by comparison.

Linda Kay said...

Great post about an era that I remember well. It was so disheartening to feel so much unrest among people in regard to the government. But I do think it has gotten even worse respect.

MarkD60 said...

Counrty songs frequently contain obscene lyrics, but its the counrty rednecks who complain when a rapper says a cuss word.

TexWisGirl said...

the cake left out in the rain one just makes me appreciate better lyrics. :)

Mike said...

I never pay attention to the lyrics. If I find myself understanding what they're singing, I've listened to the song one too many times.

Bilbo said...

I could have happily spent the rest of my life not thinking about that stupid cake in the rain. But for obscenely suggestive lyrics, I don't think anyone has ever beaten Sheena Easton's song "Sugar Walls."

Grand Crapaud said...

That cake---gaaahh!

What about "Seasons in the Sun"?

Meredith said...

MacArthur's Park may be the most panned song of all time. It made Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs.

Chuck Bear said...

Peaceful Easy Feeling is, in its way, a very self-indulgent song with facile rhyme.

Bill said...

I think the mood of the country was right for the Eagles and for Peaceful Easy Feeling then. It wasn't country, but it wasn't rock either. It was mellow. Within a few years there would be a hit record asking "Have you never been mellow?"

Banana Oil said...

"Soft rock" is an oxymoron, unless it's talc.

Cloudia said...

I heard the song as you described it. (Still do - ear worm!)

Vague words are available to carry our own deeper meanings, and can therefore seem genius. Dylan knew this

ALOHA from Honolulu
=^..^= . <3

Cloudia said...

What a sad image: A cake left out in the rain. And he'll NEVER have that recipe AGAIN! Oh NO! (Crescendo!)

Anonymous said...

how i would prefer the subtle inferences of yesteryear compared to the 'in your face' profanities of a lot of current music.

there's such a skill in saying what you want to say without saying it -

(modern bands please note this!)

great work angel.

Big Sky Heidi said...

The eagles fly high in Mobile;
The Eagles fly high in Mobile.
The Eagles fly high
And crap in your eye
I'm so glad cows don't fly in Mobile.

khem raj rai said...

i like the beautiful lady but i don't like the black crow nepali hand made