Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Rain, the Park and the Girl on Drugs

I didn’t grow up in a dentist’s office and my parents never bought those Time Life decade-in-retrospective music collections. Yet, somehow, I have come to love Top 40 pop music from the 1960s. I don’t understand it, I won’t apologize for it, and occasionally — um, like TODAY — I will write about it. Popular songs were different in the 1960s because today anything that gets radio play is intelligent written, with lyrics that reveal fundamental truths about the human condition. Back then, however, most songs were cleverly coded instructions for sex acts or sex alternatives. (“Hand Jive.”)



One that rises about such smut would be “The Rain, the Park & Other Things,” by The Cowsills. (Before you knock the band for having a terrible name, understand that they were all family members and their last name was actually Cowsill, unfortunately. No joke: They were the real-life inspiration for The Partridge Family.) This particular song was released in 1967 and is actually quite charming. However, I recently listened to the lyrics closely and realized that no, no, it’s not actually charming at all.

Here is why.
I saw her sitting in the rain
Raindrops falling on her
She didn’t seem to care
She sat there and smiled at me
Okay. Girl is getting wet. She doesn’t seem to mind. That I can be okay with, even if there’s something inherently creepy in the image of a woman plopped on the wet grass at park and flashing a dead-eyed, million-mile smile at some random dude who just happens to walk by. I mean, make the sky gray and the girl an orphan with long, black hair and I think you’d have the poster for a horror movie.
Then I knew
She could make me happy
The hell? Because you think she’ll give you whatever drugs she’s on?
Flowers in her hair
Flowers everywhere
(I love the flower girl)
Oh I don’t know just why
She simply caught my eye
(I love the flower girl)
She seemed so sweet and kind
She crept into my mind
The narrator obviously does not share my horror movie poster-like vision of this scene, because he instantly decides that he likes the flower girl, despite that she’s wet and that kind of all-over human wetness isn’t often considered a plus. She has flowers in her hair, you say? Well certainly not in any sort of pleasant arrangement if she’s being rained on. “Hey, you! Get out of the rain, stupid! You’re ruining your hair flowers! Hey! HEY! Why are you smiling? WHY ARE YOU SMILING?!”

Ahem.

Also, girl with flowers in her hair in the year 1967 smiling idiotically and not noticing that it’s raining? Yeah, she’s definitely high.
I knew I had to say hello
She smiled up at me
Apparently she stopped smiling for a moment in order to smile.
And she took my hand
And we walked through the park alone
Are we sure those are flowers and not, say, dried leaves and garbage? Look closely, Mr. Narrator — the rain has made it dark and you may be unable to see clearly. Because based on how she’s dressed and how she’s behaved so far, I say there’s a chance that you taking her on a walk through the park could constitute kidnapping a person who is either mentally ill or has become dazed and docile as a result of mind-altering drugs. Also, if you hold this girl’s hand, your hand will get all damp and clammy and that’s gross.
And I knew
She had made me happy
The drugs can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, maybe?.
Flowers in her hair
Flowers everywhere
(I love the flower girl)
Oh I don’t know just why
She simply caught my eye
Crazy people tend to be eye-catching.
(I love the flower girl)
She seemed so sweet and kind
She crept into my mind
That phrasing crept into my mind just doesn’t belong in a song that is about love.
Suddenly, the sun broke through
I turned around she was gone
And all I had left was
One little flower in my hand
Clearly, it was crazy, lucidity or a sudden sense of Stranger Danger kicked in and Little Miss Wet Flowers split. Or she saw a squirrel and ran off to chase it. But don’t be sad, Mr. Narrator. It’s not only that one flower you were left with — there’s also that urgent need to wash that hand that was holding hers.
But I knew
She had made me happy
Flowers in her hair
Flowers everywhere
(I love the flower girl)
Was she reality
Or just a dream to me?
(I love the flower girl)
Her love showed me the way
This mention of love that we didn’t necessarily see? I’m thinking certain plot points may have been omitted from the narrator’s version of the story.
To find a sunny day
(I love the flower girl)
Was she reality or just a dream to me?

[trails off into infinity]
And, thus, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” is not so much a song about hippie love as it is about a man who takes advantage of a drugged out girl in a park — which, I suppose, might actually make it the very definition of hippie love, depending on your perspective. The object of the narrator’s affections may or may not be homeless and crazy and the flowers in her hair — and also everywhere, as the song states — most likely got there as a result of her and the nearby everywhere just being beneath a flowering tree during a rainstorm. She probably doesn’t remember the interaction that takes place during the song, and she probably doesn’t like parks anymore, though she’s not certain why.

Previously overanalyzed lyrics:

2 comments:

  1. Funny that you mention this song... The Cowsills have been coming up A LOT lately on my Last.fm recommendation station.

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  2. "And I knew (I knew, I knew,I knew,I KNEEEW!)
    She could make me happy (happy, HAAAPPY!)..."
    The background vocals are insane, but I love it, whatever it's about!

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