The Beginning of Wisdom
Not long ago, I was riding in my car listening to “It’s My Party” on a local oldies station. Of course, I’ve known the words by heart since 1963, but for some reason, I started giving some serious thought to poor Leslie Gore’s predicament. I wondered why in the world she cared one iota about this creep, Johnny. After all, he’d ruined her birthday party by running off with another girl. Plus he’d made a fool out of her in front of all her friends. (Not to mention that we find out in “Judy’s Turn To Cry” how incredibly fickle he is.) Then I started thinking about how Leslie handled her crisis. She told her friends to “play all my records, keep dancing all night... but leave me alone for awhile.” Instead of crying her eyes out in some dark corner, she should’ve listened to the songs on her record player. The common sense of the lyrics might have pulled her out of the tailspin. She could have saved her party. And saved face. For example, Bobby Rydell would have advised : “Forget him, if he doesn’t love you. Forget him, if he doesn’t care.” The Beatles would have issued this warning to Johnny : “You’re gonna lose that girl... if you don’t treat her right, my friend, you’re going to find her gone.” She might’ve worked up the gumption to fight back after hearing Little Eva proclaim: “Keep your hands offa my baby.” The Flying Machine could have consoled her with: “Darling, dry your eyes, so many other guys would give the world, I’m sure, to wear the shoes he wore.” And the Staple Singers would have added simply: “Respect yourself.” If you listen carefully, you’ll find that tucked within virtually every oldie is a little nugget of advice, a morality lesson, a shared experience. Together, these lyrics comprise the Wisdom of the Oldies. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you think. And, oh by the way, it’s a blog devoted to oldies fanatics, so you can even cry if you want to.