EVERY Billboard #1 hit discussion thread 1958-Present

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I don't get where you're at on this at all. Sympathy for the Devil and Jumpin' Jack Flash and Altamont and it's quite clear this is about the Stones. A prig?
     
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  2. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Missouri
    Now see... it was so convoluted, even I was confused. I had thought the only time they were both out at once was 73. I personally like the Warner version best, wider stereo, as you stated, a TINY bit faster, and the tambourine more prominent.
     
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  3. CliffL

    CliffL Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sacramento CA USA
    Great post, this song (the Original Caste version) is one of my all time favorite songs. I used to hear it in my junior high school art class, the teacher was a cool young guy who kept the radio on in class to an FM top 40 station that was really good, and in late 1969-early 1970 "One Tin Soldier" was getting lots of airplay. I just liked its peaceful vibe. Years later I found the song on 45, and later still found a copy of the Original Caste LP that featured the song.

    I also heard the Coven version when it was on the radio, it's OK but it's the Original Caste version that I like best! I also found some earlier Original Caste singles (on the Dot label from 1968) and one of them, a cover of Dylan's "Tom Thumb's Blues" is terrific but it isn't online, unfortunately.
     
  4. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Well, this is just my opinion, but I'm complaining about McLean's condescending attitude. He's the prig, not Jagger:

    And as I watched him on the stage
    My hands were clenched in fists of rage
    No angel born in hell
    Could break that Satan's spell

    Of course it's supposed to be Jagger he's talking about, as I think I made clear (you got that I was joking about Neil Diamond, right?). But boy, is McLean sanctimonious in those lines. Imagine someone at a Stones concert overreacting to Jagger prancing around like McLean claims he did while watching him perform; it's patently absurd, and I called him out on it, that's all.

    (yes, someone died at Altamont and it was a major disaster, but there were no 'flames leaping high into the night' like McLean would have it. This is easily the worst, most overwrought part of the song, although at least you can actually understand what he's talking about for once).
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  5. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    You're guess is as good as mine. But why did Pete Seeger have a 'thorny crown'? Or Elvis, or JFK, or whoever? Ach, my head's starting to hurt again! :laugh:

    (yeah, I like the song, too. I say what I say out of affection! :) )

    PS - OK, seriously: maybe it's a reference to the 65 Newport Folk Festival where Dylan went rock, and Seeger was reported to have been very displeased; but if so, I would argue that Dylan 'stole the crown' of Most Important Folk Singer from Seeger years before that.
     
  6. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    What's a "prig"?
     
  7. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    You had to do this to me! You realize I have a new Holy Grail I must acquire now, don't you? :agree:
     
  8. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    According to the dictionary:

    'a self-righteously moralistic person who behaves as if superior to others'. I would say it applies to his attitude in that particular stretch of the song, your mileage may vary!
     
  9. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Unfortunately for you (and perhaps fortunately for the rest of the world) it (to my knowledge) does not circulate. It is mentioned in the liner notes for the Rhino CD compilation:

    Possibly the most talked-about track on Meet The Brady Bunch was Don McLean's "American Pie" as performed by the Bradys. Although an edited version appeared on the album, the entire song was actually recorded. Lost in the vaults at Paramount is a six-plus minute rendition of the pop epic featuring Barry Williams solo first and last verses.
     
  10. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Wow, yep I couldn't be farther away in viewpoint. Yes, I knew you were referring to McLean as a "prig". He's providing quite clever social commentary on what is frequently referred to as the end of the 60's. That's not "priggish". "No angel born in hell", I trust you get the Hells Angels reference.
     
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  11. Victor/Victrola

    Victor/Victrola Makng shure its write

    This is one of the major points I made when I decided that American Pie suffered from a superiority complex.
     
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  12. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Olney, MD
    I don't have my Goldmine catalogs with me so I can't check right now wrt your "Sweet Pea" 45 (and I don't know that single offhand), but are you sure you have an original pressing of "Sweet Pea"?

    I am sure that you know that later pressings can have later label designs (think of the various Capitol labels the Beatles singles appeared on).

    I'm not saying you're wrong (which is why I hesitate to post this before checking). But I wanted to throw that out there.
     
  13. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Olney, MD
    Maybe it's better to look at the Altamont lines from a broader context (not so literally) -- I take it to mean -- not so much he's waving his fists at the Stones themselves but the end of the "hippie dream" or whatever you want to call it -- a thought comes to mind, maybe that's what the fire is consuming? (I'll grant that he is talking about the Stones at Altamont, at least on one level).

    I have to take that tack with the whole song; otherwise the song loses its magic (at least it does for me).

    For example, from a different part of the song, I have a hard time believing that Buddy Holly's plane crash was front page news (I was a newspaper deliverer way back when and the only thing I ever looked at when delivering the paper was the front page). So I presume he's not trying to be literal.
     
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  14. Mylene

    Mylene Forum Resident

    [​IMG]

    Even in the UK it was front page news.
     
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  15. KayNicole

    KayNicole Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Honestly such a great song and talent! Miss him!
     
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  16. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Olney, MD
    I wasn't talking about tabloid newspapers (doubt that tabloid newspapers would be delivered door-to-door - but maybe I'm wrong there too).
    McLean doesn't make that clear.
     
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  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    It was front page on a number of papers (just googled and saw several), but, yes, there's literal and not literal imagery in the lyrics.
     
  18. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    If you think about, it was a smart move for McClean to never have given us his explanation for the lyrics -- we're talking about them 47 some odd years later.

    As for Seeger having a 'thorny crown', wasn't he harrassed, black-listed, etc., for his political views, making him something of a martyr? I seem to remember something like that. All just guesses, though.
     
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  19. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    Actually, having just read a book on the subject, there were fires all over the place at Altamont -- partiers ripped down fences, sheds (I think) belonging to the neighboring farms, ripped up thousands of dollars of wooden crates that the lighting had been transported in, etc. It was cold and no one had any problem ripping down any available wood for fires.
     
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  20. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    Yes, it's an original pressing, and I am surprised you don't know the song. You must be younger than me.

    It turns out that the original pressing of "Sweet Pea" was released on all of the ABC label variations!
     
  21. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    It seems pretty clear Dylan is the Jester. The way McLean sings the line "The Jester sang for the King and Queen" places a Dylanish emphasis on the word "Queen" to get the point across. Why is he a jester? Well, a jester isn't just a comedian, he's someone who mocks the status quo and sometimes those in power. Beyond which, there's piles of humor in Dylan's big three albums of 1965-66, and he was a guy who often seemed to delight in making up lies about his past or saying ridiculous things at press conferences seemingly just to get a reaction. I think the "coat he borrowed from James Dean" is not literally clothing or appearance, but more the mantle of being the face of youth culture and/or youth rebellion.

    The King is likely Elvis. "While the King was looking down" would refer to the period when Elvis was wasting time doing movies instead on concentrating on music, which was also the time period when Dylan rose to popularity. Who is the Queen? I don't know. I think McLean probably just threw that in because he needed a word to rhyme with "Dean."

    Which brings up another point... I don't think any of the stuff in the song is intended to be directly analogous in a 100% exact way to real people and events. There's things that seem to refer to various people and events, but I don't think McLean intended it to be a perfect match or for everything to fit neatly in a way that could be precisely decoded to reveal a specific, clear message.

    It would only be priggish if McLean were literally expressing his own attitude towards the Stones, which I doubt is the case. Is McLean the narrator? Does he share the same attitudes and beliefs as the narrator? That is uncertain. It's also unclear if the Stones are being referenced or if Jagger is being suggested as Satan. I don't think McLean intended things exactly that way. If Mick is Satan then the line "No angel born in hell could break that Satan's spell" would seem to suggest that Mick was to blame for Altamont and the Hell's Angels were trying to put a stop to the violence, which would be ridiculous. I don't think McLean is that stupid. I think it's intended more as an impressionistic comment on the events and the general tenor of the post-Altamont world, rather than a literal description of the events of the day.
     
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  22. Grant

    Grant A Brady-Boomer Musical Free-Spirit

    The more I read about the meaning of the lyrics to "American Pie" the more I like it. I have a new respect for it.
     
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  23. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I basically agree with your take on the Jester, but it's a pity that it isn't a little more precise; the pieces really have to be molded by the listener to make the Dylan reference work. McLean seems to be trying to be obscure, but he also wants you to understand what he's saying. Those two approaches seem to be in conflict IMO.

    Not just ridiculous but borderline slanderous.

    I guess the more I think about the song (a dangerous activity!) the more I think it expresses a fairly conservative worldview. Not politically conservative, but conservative in the sense that McLean bemoans the change that came after Holly's death and seems to delight in playing the scold throughout the song. OK, it's possibly true that McLean does not have the same worldview as the narrator, but I still feel it's fair to criticize the narrator's attitude and call him a prig. And since it's all in first person, I don't think it's out of bounds to assume (perhaps unfairly) that Don McLean shares these views.

    I agree, based on what I know about it, that Jagger's culpability for Altamont is limited to a certain lack of due diligence when it came time to choose the Hells Angels as the security (and he might not even have been the one who made that decision (someone know?), it might have been Allen Klein or whoever, or you could argue that Klein as their manager had a responsibility to rein in their more careless tendencies if only to protect them from litigation). But the song says:

    As the flames leapt high into the night
    To light the sacrificial rite
    I saw Satan laughing with delight.

    Did McLean see Gimme Shelter? Mick was most certainly not laughing, with delight or otherwise, when things got out of control. To even imply that he was taking joy in what happened is really not fair. Sacrificial rite also implies that "Satan" was orchestrating a ritual to hurt or kill someone. McLean/the narrator completely missed what happened at Altamont, and I feel he opens himself up to criticism for it. IMO, of course!
     
  24. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yeah, that's a good guess. Dylan seemed to go out of his way to distance himself from protest music, though. It's not an exact fit.

    (Still think the King is Elvis, though). :laugh:
     
  25. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Interesting. Thanks for the info. I was focusing mostly on what was happening onstage. It didn't occur to me that the fires might have been elsewhere on the grounds (it's still not what the concert is primarily known for, though!).
     

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