Thursday, July 11, 2019

On Music and Poetry


We settle into a seat on a train, at times forgetting the destination, enjoying the ride of its own accord. The train is its own world, even as it moves with purpose; if the train broke down, we'd be annoyed - the purpose of the train slips our minds only fleetingly - yet it allows us in its mesmerizing clickity-clack to forget the reason for the journey and to simply enjoy the experience. Expression is like this, too. We talk for a reason, and yet we also just enjoy talking. Poetry then is reticent expressiveness; it combines the enjoyable and the purposeful aspects of the train ride; at times rambling on, clickity-clackiting; at times direct and purposeful. 

1968 features prominently in the music-as-poetry construct, a time which, artistically, happily, resembles the Romantic era: sensual and intellectual, though not overly so, and, because indulgence was miraculously tempered by a certain unstated restraint, popular.  In the last post, we touched on the debate between poetry and lyrics: while music aids the lyric, condemning it to be not quite poetry, poetry is its own music, condemning it to be naked, without music, forever. I don't know which I feel sorrier for. Some will say the two can never be reconciled. Madness and torture!  Why do they exist, never to meet!  Poetry and music!  Divided heart!  Divided mind!  Poor, divided mankind! (Dramatic, huh?)



Oh, poppycock, of course, they do; they meet and have an illicit affair, and if an especially beautiful melody accompanies the words of a particular lyric, making the words even more lovely, do we assume the words are responsible or has the music inspired the words? 

For the research here, I found myself in realism-mode, the Brönte factor, and in its simplicity and constructive realism, adding in a dose of repetition to make Mark Twain proud, I chose McCartney's aforementioned "Why Don't We Do It In the Road."

Love it or hate it, celebrate it or be embarrassed by it, "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" showed that the  Fab Four were more than peace, love and flowers (or is the song the essence of the hippie trinity?). Some might call it bold (particularly from McCartney), yet something like this had to be expected, especially on an album with a plain white cover, as if something subversive was inside. After the furor caused by John's "We're bigger than Jesus" statement, and the banned songs by the BBC due to drug references, not to mention John and Yoko's full frontal on the cover of Two Virgins, why not compose a song about the most absurdly taboo subject imaginable and see how many feathers could be ruffled?

"The idea behind 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road' came from something I'd seen in Rishikesh," Paul explained. "I was up on the flat roof meditating and I'd seen a troupe of monkeys walking along in the jungle and a male just hopped on to the back of this female and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular.  Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say, 'It wasn't me,' and she looked around as if there had been some mild disturbance but thought, 'Huh, I must have imagined it,' and she wandered off.

"And I thought, 'Bloody hell, that puts it all into a cocked hat.' That's how simple the act of procreation is, this bloody monkey just hopping on and hopping off. There is an urge, they do it, and it's done with. And it's that simple. We have horrendous problems with it, and yet animals don't.” While Paul’s account makes it simply rudimentary, it also takes out the romance. Frankly, doesn't the song express our basic instincts, not just in a physical manner, indeed in this respect we’re like animals, but in an obliquely human way as well: "WDWDIITR" is all about the romance of lust. How Byronic is that? 

So, back to the train. Monkeys just do it in the road. We take our time. We get on a train. We sit together and chat, forget about the ride, forget about the destination; it's all, at least for now, about the journey. And yet, in the nuance of the encounter, you contemplate her smile, the fullness of her breasts, his scruffy cool, and in your mind you just want to push him/her up against... Those thoughts wind through your mind, come and go, the question building, insistent, louder and louder. First, it's a question; then it's a plea:


Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us

Why don't we do it in the road?

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