Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I've got a pocket full of pretty green

...I'm going to give it to the man behind the counter
he's gonna give me food and water

I recently heard this song, do you remember it? I heard it on the recent release by Mark Ronson, and my ears pricked up--I knew it but couldn't quite place it. It was a catchy, bouncy rendition evocative of a children's rope skipping rhyme, replete with high, cheery voices. This particular production is what threw me off--it was originally performed by the Jam, and the version as sung by the gruff, nasally Paul Weller, with the spare, percussive, jerky arrangement feels like a different world altogether. The song is a simple, stark assessment of the world of commerce:

And they didn't teach me that in school -
It's something that I learnt on my own -
That power is measured by the pound or the fist -
It's as clear as this oh -

But in the new version by Mark Ronson, the song becomes a nursery rhyme whose origins and meaning are shrouded and sometimes dark, like Ring Around the Rosey, Rock-a-Bye-Baby, or maybe even Pop Goes the Weasel.

Is there safety in the familiarity of a tune? Or was it ever really that dark? Sometimes the incomprehensible chords and strange rhythm of a new song make your ears bristle and wince, or an annoying refrain overshadows a song's deeper meaning. Did you ever notice someone from afar, and think to yourself, "gosh, he looks mean." But when you eventually meet him and get to know him as the good person he inevitably was, you can no longer seem to find that "meanness" in his face you swear you saw in the past?
Is the most beautiful person you know the most beautiful person in the world?

No comments: