A Critical Concern for Out-Dated Lyrics

Critical Concern for Out-Dated Lyrics

My son and I were hauling a huge load of his college apartment furniture on an old trailer behind my even older Jeep. We were bringing it home, albeit only temporarily, as he was moving back out of the house shortly and getting ready to start his career.

We were laughing hysterically for much of the trip, to the point that I’m sure onlookers thought we were lunatics. At times I had trouble controlling both my laughter and the car. I’m sure we resembled the Clampetts in their old truck; the only thing missing was Granny sitting on her old rocking chair.

Oldies Radio

I had an oldie station on the dial and an archaic song by The Ides Of March from 1970 was playing on the radio. It was called “Vehicle."  I sincerely doubt today if there are many song lyrics that have become more antiquated than this one.

Allow me to explain, starting with the opening line.

“Hey well, I'm a friendly stranger in a black sedan."

By today’s standards, this line alone is reason enough to arouse suspicion from any investigating officers nationwide. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and give it a try. Drive into any city, with the windows down, and start singing that line to the kids or women on the street. I bet you will quickly attract the attention of police, possibly followed by a search of your vehicle and your person.

“Won't you hop inside my car?"

If there was any doubt about the validity of the above paragraph, that second line will reaffirm my position. Can you imagine this song being popular today? You would be better off just painting Perv in large letters on your car doors and then taking up permanent residency living in your car – because no community is going to allow you hospitable citizenship while singing those lyrics.

And, they get worse.

“I got pictures, got candy, I'm a lovable man,"

Just change the sign on the car doors to Please Arrest Me!  - highlighted in high-gloss, metallic, fluorescent, reflective paint. What were those Ides thinking?

“And I can take you to the nearest star."

Okay, cuff the guy, read him his rights, and throw him in the slammer. Nah – forget his rights, just take him to jail!

“I'm your vehicle, baby
I'll take you anywhere you wanna go
I'm your vehicle, woman
But I'm not sure that you know
That I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I want ya, got to have you, child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you."

A judge would not hesitate to label this singing pervert a dangerous man, and under today’s legislation, it would be a very long time until he saw the light of day again. Maybe Caesar’s soothsayer was right; “Beware of the Ides of March."

In any event, this old song set my wheels of thought into rotation. The lyrics threw me back to a time when we as a society didn’t have to worry as much about the real possibility of a child abduction – a more secure time when care-free lyrics were just what they were intended to be – nonsense that rhymes.

Speaking of nonsense

As we got closer to home, we drove past the high school where I taught for well-over 30 years. Still laughing, I looked at my son and asked him if we should drive around and wave to the teachers and students inside. You know, like making a “You poor suckers," statement. And then another old song came to mind… Uneasy Rider.

The Charlie Daniels Band once sang that song and I momentarily visualized the administration, maintenance staff and police chasing my son and me, on foot, while we circled the school property in our Jeep.

“Mario Andretti wouldda sure been proud
Of the way I was movin when I passed that crowd
Coming out the door and headed toward me at a trot

Now I guess I should of gone ahead and run
But somehow I just couldn't resist the fun
Of chasing them all just once around the parking lot."

I was more than surprised that my son joined me in singing those lyrics as we passed by the high school. He knew them as well as I did.  Unlike the Uneasy Rider, I resisted the temptation to circle the school property. I did roar out loud though with the thought of it as I’m sure any former teacher would understand.

More of a critical concern

In a future story, we’ll revisit the old lyrics in “Make Me Smile" by Chicago.  

“Children play in the park,
they don’t know, I’m alone in the dark…."

On second thought, maybe it’s best to just leave those old lyrics alone.  They were great in their day – a worry-free time when we could sing along with the radio, without so much as giving a second thought as to what we were singing.
As humorous as this scenario was, it quickly brought some melancholy to the situation too.  A sad commentary indeed, that as a society, we have to agonize with necessity that those good old days are gone – and without a doubt, gone forever.  

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA