Friday, September 9, 2016

Breaking All the Rules...of good taste

By Bill S.

A while back, s.z. and I both explored the deeper meaning behind Charlene's pop hit "I've Never Been To Me", an song that barely made a dent on the pop chart in the '70's but exploded in the '80's when a DJ ran across a copy of it and began giving it airplay, making it the musical equivalent of a zombie (more so than it was in 1977). The song still remains popular as a camp classic-there's even a dance remix, complete with a rap interlude. Here's the link to that:

No need to say "Thank you", the look in your faces is reward enough. But prior to the song's '80's resurrection, it was covered by several other artists. Jazz/pop stylist Nancy Wilson had a modest hit on the R&B chart with her version, Mary MacGregor recorded a version that reached the Top 30 on the Adult Contemporary chart, making it the most successful version at the time. (It's also the best one, by default, because a little less dirge-y than the others). MacGregor is best known of course for her massively popular 1976 hit "Torn Between Two Lovers". She's usually labeled a One-Hit Wonder but this isn't technically true, as she scored a second Top 40 hit in 1979 with "Good Friend"(from the Meatballs soundtrack). She had another single that fell just a few spots shy of the Top40, "This Girl (Has Turned Into a Woman)". If the title of that one doesn't tell you everything you need to know, you're probably too young to be reading this.

But back to her biggest hit. If you were looking for the song that summed up what was most embarrassing about the Me Decade, "Torn Between Two Lovers" would be the best choice. So it's a bit surprising to learn it was written by veteran folkie Peter Yarrow, and allegedly inspired by the love triangle in Dr. Zhivago, with the genders flipped around. That makes me think if the song had been recorded by a man, and been about a bisexual love triangle, it might have been subversive. Or interesting, at least. As it was, "Torn..." isn't even embraced by drag queens, because, unlike "I've Never Been To Me", it's too aggressively earnest to work as a camp classic.

Mary MacGregor " Torn Between Two Lovers " ( Live )

There are times when a woman has to say what's on her mind
Even though she knows how much it's gonna hurt

Yeah, "even though". And sometimes, "especially when".

Before I say another word, let me tell you I love you
Let me hold you close and say these words as gently as I can

It doesn't bode well that you seem to be trying to prevent me from grabbing any sharp objects.

There's been another man that I've needed and I've loved


But that doesn't mean I love you less

Well, it kinda does.

And he knows he can't possess me, and he knows he never will

"He wanted to possess me, NO! He cannot possess the goddess!"

There's just this empty place inside of me that only he can fill

Are--are you talking about butt stuff? Because you know, I might have been wi--oh, never mind. You probably WEREN'T talking about that.

Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool

Not as much as me.

Loving both of you is breaking all the rules

No, not ALL of them. Just the ones set when you enter a monogamous relationship. If this was an open one, it wouldn't even be an issue.

You mustn't think you failed me just because there's someone else

WHAT. THE. FUCK? Are you high? That is so NOT what I'm thinking. And what a thing to assume.

You were the first real love I ever had

Faked it with everyone else, eh?

And all the things I ever said, I swear they still are true.

Well, mostly true.

For no one else can have the part of me I gave to you

You mean the part that faked being happy while secretly craving side action? Gosh, I'm honored.

Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool

I'm feeling like Jeannie Berlin in The Heartbreak Kid

Loving both of you is breaking all the rules
Torn betwee- Oh, you know the rest.

I couldn't really blame you if you turned and walked away

Could you blame me if I started throwing all your stuff out the window?

But with everything I feel inside

A deluded sense of nobility?

I'm asking you to stay

Oh, I am staying. The cab's for you, Felicia. Don't let the screen door hit you on your way out.


Dr. Alice said...

Oh, this song SO badly needed to be pilloried. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now about that earworm you just planted in my head...

Carl said...

On very lonely...ok, very STONED...nights at WNYU-FM I used to counter program this with:

Dirty Deeds Done Cheap

You know, Fairness Doctrine, responsible opposing opinions and all.

heydave said...

You made baby jeebus cry with that song.

Tracy said...

I've always been disappointed that the "Torn Between Two Lovers" video didn't feature the singer being pulled apart by four teams of horses.