And now, with a knowing glance or two, we are back in the world of grown-up love; the kind that is casual, deliberately so, where the fresh-faced adoration of The New Seekers has become something else - an acceptance of love lost and yet still remaining. This is love, or a kind of love, the easygoing kind that has behind it a kind of regret or nostalgia that things cannot be as they once were; neither Nancy nor Lee is giving much away here plotwise, other than that she is with someone now, not that her father (always a loaded term here; it's Frank, after all) knows...yet. This song is full of warmth and humor and tenderness, all undercut by Nancy's audibly raised eyebrow and Lee's drawl, suggesting he is content with just seeing her again and getting the lowdown on what is really going on in her lovelife. How has she been? The "8 or 9" shows that he is well aware that she's been up to something, is playing the field - was he the first? The third? It doesn't matter, but now she has met the one, perhaps, younger and handsomer than him, "in his prime." (This is something she may or may not be proud to relate; it also makes me wonder just how far back these two go.) There is a wryness here, along with the warmth; they both know nothing is going to happen, but "it" - and besides the obvious, who knows what that "it" really is. They do it "all the time" - especially him - but maybe they are content to think about it more than actually do anything; this is probably tougher on him than on her (from the sounds of it, he's stopped by her place en route to somewhere else, unless the bus at the end is an excuse).
The joy of the song is that they are both happy - I think - with their situations as they are; nothing else needs to happen in order for us to know anything - there is no "next" here, just the contentment of hearing two people with a past, who maybe were a couple for a while, until she moved on...and they are just catching up now, missing each other but without that strong magnetic pull they once had, orbiting each other and parting, lazily flirty and perhaps saying things with their eyes that we, the listeners, can only imagine. That she's found someone new but is still interested in him - genuinely interested (this would be a very mean song if she didn't care for him anymore) maybe shows that they have a future; there he is in his jeans and checked shirt, there she is wearing a halter top and maxiskirt, and they are still half in love, the longing still there, the fondness still evident.
Maybe this song isn't just about a couple but about the complex relationship the public at large has to the 60s; still attached but obviously separated, never able to go back and have things the way they once were. Too much has happened. Do folks think about the 60s and what was possible then - and might still be possible now - all the time? Remember how many were still attached, who were still idealistic and optimistic and also a little lost, as if the neat paths had just disappeared and they found themselves in wilderness, literally or figuratively. "Back to the garden" Joni sang, and so folks tried to get back, only to find there was no there there, so to speak. Nancy and Lee know this already, but also know that there is satisfaction in just thinking and longing, remembering what was and - who knows? - what may or may not happen again. He can live on that hope, and she may just have found her man...or not. The choices are still open, their love is still free, the complex and gorgeous world has so much to offer.
Next up: a history lesson for the kids.