Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Last Kiss



Summer camp brings a different perspective. I was in Ranger village at Camp Mi-te-na in 1964, deeply unaware and unconcerned about popular music. But my junior counselor thrashed badly on a guitar much of the time, and kept the radio tuned to the popular music station. I have no idea what station had the range to reach Alton, NH at that point.

And thus, I heard this song many times and was deeply moved.  It was horrifying, overwhelming, an offense against all that was just and good.  How can such evil things happen in the world?  I comforted myself with the idea that it probably wasn't true - that nothing like this had ever happened - and was written as a warning to the young to drive safely, and be good to Your Girl.  Frightening us for good cause seemed a responsible thing for popular singers to do, and I was still of an age where I believed that adults would not allow a song to be popular and on the radio if it was really bad for us.


A decade later a college friend, Steve Nobles, wrote a parody of the genre called "One Last Cola," and two decades after that, for my 40th birthday party, Joe Brancato, a psychologist friend pulled out a similar teen tragedy song he had written in the same era.  It was based on a carnival ride from a summer job he had held, ending with the girl dead but unreachable by the boyfriend as the "Turtle of Death" spun through its pattern, just missing each other many times as she slowly succumbed to the centripal force and he watched helplessly.

What is with those faux angelic background voices, anyway?  Creepy.  They sound more like minor demons.

7 comments:

Texan99 said...

I found "Leader of the Pack" on iTunes the other day. That took me back. "Ebony Eyes," too, and something about a soldier reading a "Dear John" letter and jumping up into the path of bullets. OK, and "See the tree, how big it's grown" -- I can chase my husband right out of the house with one line of that one.

jlbussey said...

"Seasons in the Sun" is another one. I never really understood it, even though it made me weepy when I was an over-emotional teen.

jlbussey said...

DAMN it, now I have "Honey, I miss you..." running through my head. Thanks a bloody lot, T99! :)

Texan99 said...

My father was a great one for song parodies, like the "Oh, when I was a young girl, I was the village belle" ditty, or "There once was a fine young who left his quiet country home" (as performed by W.C. Fields), or the play on gallows-conversion songs, "Sam Hall": "Oh, my name it is Sam Hall, and I hate you one and all, yes, I hate you one and all: G-d d--n your eyes."

Also: "With 'er 'ead tucked underneath 'er arm, she walks the Bloody Tower."

jlbussey, if you know any of these, they may dislodge the earworm.

Sam L. said...

Best version of Leader Of The Pack that I heard was a live performance by Captain and Tenille. Really! No lie! It was just damned good!

elcrain said...

From Boomer junior high school days I recall a horrifying pair of novels by (I believe) Gregor Felson called "Hot Rod" and "Street Rod," cautionary tales about driving foolishly: all the nice young characters, including pals just along for the ride, get killed at the end of the books.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

elcrain - I wish they had made those into movies, especially for Son #4