Friday, June 8, 2007

What's your song?

Everybody has a song that immediately produces a happy adrenaline rush. Sometimes it's a song that's associated with a person, a place or an event. Sometimes it's just a song with a beat that is so irresistable, lyrics that are so meaning-full, that it can't be denied.

I think it's very possible to have several such songs, maybe to match different moods or experiences. I have a friend who shamefacedly admitted that her song is "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers. You know, the one where you spell "S-A-TUR-DAY...NIGHT!" with great enthusiasm. I remember another friend from college named Dan who wore black horn rimmed glasses and claimed that his song was "Oh Boy" by Buddy Holly, which I felt was perfectly understandable. Jordin Sparks, the recent winner of American Idol, revealed that her song is Hanson's "Mmmbop," which kind of makes me cringe a little bit, but then, songs are a very personal thing and "Mmmbop" is just fine, as long as she doesn't expect me to listen to it with her. And I feel pretty confident that she won't.

My song is "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" by Paul Simon.

The mama pajama rolled out of bed
and she ran to the police station
When the papa found out he began to shout
and he started the investigation

It's against the law
It was against the law
What the mama saw
It was against the law

The mama looks down and spits on the ground
every time my name gets mentioned
The papa said oy if I get that boy
I'm gonna stick him in the house of detention

Well, I'm on my way
I don't know where I'm going
I'm on my way
I'm taking my time
But I don't know where
Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona

See you, me and Julio
down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
down by the schoolyard
Me and Julio down by the schoolyard

In a couple of days
they come and take me away
but the press let the story leak
And when the radical priest
come to get me released
we was all on the cover of Newsweek

And I'm on my way
I don't know where I'm going
I'm on my way
I'm taking my time
but I don't know where
Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona

See you, me and Julio
down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
down by the schoolyard
See you, me and Julio
down by the schoolyard

Whenever I hear it, I have to sing it, even if I'm in the grocery store or Target or somewhere where singing along with the piped-in music is generally frowned upon. I'm not one off those people who bellows out the words, trying to call attention to myself, no matter what my brother might think. I just kind of whisper and hum along, in spite of the fact that the lyrics are incomprehensible and Paul Simon himself has never explained them, including the nature of the crime that made Mama Pajama rat out her own son to the police.

Just for the heck of it, I typed "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" into Google and was really tickled when my search produced a number of hits, all leading to different essays written by people speculating on what the protagonist and Julio were doing. There was a lot available, considering that this song, for all its cheerful, catchy tune with the Latin beat, only made it as far as number 22 on the US pop charts in 1972, which is when I was either nine years old or minus three, depending upon my mood when you ask me.

Most people think that Mama Pajama saw her son and Julio doing drugs or possibly doing a deal. This is what I prefer to believe, especially when considering Paul's lyric in the song "Late in the Evening":

Then I learned to play some lead guitar
I was underage in this funky bar
and I stepped outside to smoke myself a J

I have to say that I find the idea of Paul -- a man with his level of musical genius -- deliberately destroying his brain cells with THC preferable to the alternative meaning also posited among the scholars on the internet who believe that what Mama saw was something sexual happening. Something sexual and illegal. I know! My mind doesn't want to go there either! But let's face it - we have the unnamed protagonist (Paul himself?), Julio, and then a hinted-at third party, the "you" who sneaks in with "me and Julio" and as I said, I prefer the drugs. It does worry me, though, that whatever it was was bad enough that Mama spat on the ground, probably between her index and middle fingers held in a V and likely said forever after, "That one, he is dead to me."

Yikes.

The mysterious "you" doesn't seem to be Rosie, thank goodness, because anyone who
was cool enough to get herself unofficially named the Queen of Corona, which is a neighborhood in Queens, just shouldn't be a bawdy slut. That's not what queens do and I think Rosie knew that. When I was a little kid (or merely a gleam in my father's eye, depending upon my mood when you ask me), I used to sing along with this song whenever I heard it and think wistfully how wonderful it would have been if Paul Simon had sung, "Goodbye to Shelley, the Queen of ..." I don't know. East-central Indiana, I guess.

A few people think that the song may be talking about anti-war protests, referring to a couple of Jesuit priests who were involved in demonstrations, but since neither of those priests ever appeared on the cover of Newsweek, we're kind of back to where we started.

Which is with a good little song with a great beat that makes me sing every time I hear it.

What's your song?

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Good golly, Shell, "Me and Julio" is your song??? I would never have guessed that in a million years...LOL. I could not possibly narrow it down...different songs for different moods, memories, etc. HOWEVER, I do have two very favorite songs that were done by two very unlikely duos..."Free Falling" by Tom Petty and Axl Rose and "Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Very good, very very good. Alex's favorite is "Bad Moon Rising" by CCC...no need to elaborate on that choice. Matt's is "On Eagle's Wings"...no need to elaborate on that one either. Mark's is definitely "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young. I will have to work on getting a favorite...too many choice, just too many choices. "Me and Julio"???????? Defies explanation.