Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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.
Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at 7:31 PM