Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Cheery Quiet: Bobby Darin: "Things"

The last time we heard from Mr. Darin (and how long ago does that seem now?), he was inviting us all to join him up a lazy river; he pounced and trounced and played with the song like a lion cub. He still has that "he's got savoir-faire because he's debonair" about him here, but note the differences; he has written this song himself. And he sits by his window, watching other couples go by.* He sees them cuddle and laugh and then remembers what they did; walking, kissing, going out and just hanging out listening to the jukebox and - most importantly - remembering 'the night we cried.' The song ambles along in a pop-country way, girls in the back singing as if they themselves are just mere representatives of her, the one he lost, the one causing him such heartaches.

The whole song is like a jaunty walk and smile, the person saying they are fine when really deep down they aren't; it is also yet another song wherein introspection (all he has to talk to are his own heartaches and they are, presumably, quite vocal) is starting to creep into the story - notice how here he doesn't even have a picture of the woman in question. But what happened on that night when they cried? Was it something to do with their lovers' vow? I feel that with song that the intensity of the 60s has just increased by that much, the cheery optimist still only just winning out over the profound void of being by oneself in total quiet. (One of the most important songs of the 60s, I feel - at least in this vein - comes along about a year from now, released as a b-side in the U.S. only, and it takes all of pop to a different place; a place that I would say culminates in Manchester in the late 70s.) If you compare these two songs, you can see how swiftly the 60s evolve and how the pressure to be not just good but great was already building up; also how the Rat Pack/Mad Men era was starting to slowly change despite itself, how showbiz was turning slowly from one thing into something else altogether. Mr. Darin smiles, stares out the window and resists crying - for now.

*For those of you who know the number two list already, there is another one that starts with this same premise but takes it to a different and radical conclusion. That's not for a few years yet, though.

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