Sunday, January 26, 2014

Anachronistic Songs, Part 2 of 2

One meaning of anachronism
a person or a thing that seems to belong to the past and not to fit in the present
Common characteristics of an anachronistic song, usually the song having been out at least a few decades ago:
  • It includes a term that was popular or a norm in a particular era "long ago".
  • It includes a term that the definition has shifted over time.
  • It is more likely now to be considered culturally or politically insensitive than in the past.
  • It contains reference to a year number.
"Anachronistic Songs, Part 1 of 2" covered blasts from the past WRT another-era terms (example: "groove") and some terminology definition shifts (ex: example: "straight"). This part continues with unPC-ness, dimes and related costs, and years.

UnPC-ness
Culturally or racially loaded examples that might meet with much stronger objection if released now than when released in the past. (I have no intention of addressing hip hop lyrics in this article.)
  • "Wooly Bully"—Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (an unPC group name with outfits to match)
    "Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro ...Let's not be L-seven"
    Note the code term for "square", now seldom used as a reference for being out of touch with current trends.
  • "Mecca"—Gene Pitney
    "Oh she's my dream goddess and her ruby lips are so div-i-ine
    And though her folks say we're too young to know of love"
    I worship at her shrine"
  • Ray Stevens anachronisms for themes and lyrics
    "Ahab the Arab"
    "Please Mr. Custer"
    "The Streak" (capitalizing on that 1975 fad of streaking)
    Ray, along with numerous other artists, also covered "Little Egypt". More on "Little Egypt" farther down as the fitting other anachronisms …
  • "Kung Fu Fighting"
    The lyrics from the older, Carl Douglas version contrasts with the newer, Cee Lo version used in Kung Fu Panda.
Phone calls
Phone calls, price of, and reference to dialing are anachronisms because of technology and inflation over time. (Borrowing from my "Technical Communications Means" article.)
  • "834-5789"—Picket Wilson
    "All you gotta do is pick up your telephone and dial now"
  • "867 5309/Jenny"—Tommy Tutone
    "Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to? (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
    For the price of a dime I can always turn to you."
  • "Happy Together"—Turtles
    "I should call you up, invest the dime"
  • "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"—Rod Stewart
    "Give me a dime so I can phone my mother"
  • "Operator"—Jim Croce
    "You can keep the dime."
  • "Sylvia's Mother", Dr. Hook
    "And the operator says '40 cents more for the next 3 minutes'"
The dime itself represents a norm for older times besides several of the phone-themed songs I named.
  • "On Broadway", Driftwoods
    "One thin dime won't even shine your shoes."
  • "Roll Over Beethoven", Chuck Berry
    "Long as she got a dime the music wont never stop." [sic]
  • "Little Egypt" has additional two anachronisms besides stereotyping—a reference to a dime for admission to a show, and reference to a very old year—1949.
    "Just one thin dime! One tenth of a dollar! ...
    She had a picture of a cowboy Tattooed on her spine,
    Saying Phoenix, Arizona, Nineteen forty-nine,"
"Love Potion Number 9" and "Hotel California" are other song examples that mention specific years as if they were signposts marking time.
  • "Love Potion Number 9"—Clovers
    "I told her that I was a flop with chicks
    I've been this way since 1956"
  • "Hotel California"—Eagles
    "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"
One song title that might not ever go out of date, at least, for our time, could be "In The Year 2525", Zager And Evans.

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