Monday, February 12, 2007


So, I'm driving around listening to Abbey Road by The Beatles, ebulliently rekindling my youth with my young daughter.

"Wait. You'll love this," I excitedly tell her. "It's a children's song."

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" comes on.

"Back in school again, Maxwell plays the fool again, teacher gets annoyed,
Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene,
She tells Max to stay when the class has gone away,
So he waits behind,
Writing fifty times I must not be so
But when she turns her back on the boy, he creeps up from behind,
Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head,
Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead."

Did you ever hear such a whimsical light-hearted tune? And was there ever a greater mismatch of flippant tone paired with such casual, violent imagery? (Imagine the video they could've done!)

"Gee, Dad, did you ever listen to the lyrics?"

"Yeah, I mean, no, I mean, I guess not. I don't know. I guess I never really got that it was so violent."

We laughed. What could one say? Tone is everything, hunh?

Later, it somehow reminded me of a conversational game my older brother and I used to play, creating hilarious mismatches of pop songs being "covered," as they say, with the worst possible combinations.

Kate Smith or Ethel Merman doing Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."

(Okay, you have to be a certain age to see how ludicrous it is.)

Bing Crosby covering The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

And so on.

Come up with your own, because if you are expecting me to be hip in any contemporary way, it ain't happening.

Prince doing "White Christmas"?


Sheila said...

haha tone is everything. That's how they get you. When I would be angry and "yell" at my boyfriend while watching my baby nieces I would do it with a smile on my face and a sing song voice so they didn't get upset. My boyfriend thought I looked ridiculous, but he got the point that I was angry. :o)

Natalie said...

I really liked that song when I was a kid. Maybe that explains a lot. Isn't Octopuses Garden on that album? That is a true children's song (I think). I am a huge fan of songs in the "wrong" tone. It gets me laughing.

Crankster said...

I actually own a cover of "Hey, Jude" done by Bing Crosby.

I just read a book that you might like. It's called Two of Us; it's about a man introducing his son to the Beatles.

azgoddess said...

hey - this is just wrong - grin...

just totally wrong!

Glamourpuss said...

Lemmy from Motorhead doing Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On'?


La Sensatez said...

How about Justin Timberlake singing "Rocky Mountain High"?

You're absolutely right about tone. I wrote an editorial the other day for the local newspaper and I made 2 copies. One was serious and the other was sarcastic. It changed the meaning completely.