Monday, June 21, 2010

6/21/10 - Songs of the Summer, #11-12 - "The Third Man Theme" and "Come On-A My House"

The Master List: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-songs-of-the-summer-1940-2010

Top Song of 1950: The Third Man Theme by Anton Karas


I really do love the sound effect of the needle dropping onto vinyl, followed by the tinny guitar chords that start this song. I referenced the associations these sonic signatures carry in the writeup of the Ink Spots song earlier, but there's something about that particular sound that carries with it a certain sepia-toned air of nostalgia that can be easily manipulated for several effects.

In this song, the guitar carries everything, and it's the kind of piece that isn't used much, unless its used to signify something old or passing. The tune itself is relatively jaunty, with the ping-pong-ing bassline that usually signifies old country or bluegrass sounds lying underneath a sprightly melody. It's the kind of song that makes me want to ride a bicycle through a meadow with a picnic basket sitting on my handlebars. In that sense, perfect for summer.

"I never knew Vienna before the War..." is the first sentence of the movie whose theme this song accompanies, and the double layer of nostalgia is achingly timeless.

Top Song of 1951: "Come On-A My House" by Rosemary Clooney


I always appreciate pop songs built around elegant metaphors, and this is one of them. It's one of the reasons that "My Humps", by the Black-Eyed Peas, drove me batshit insane: it literalized sexual desire in such an imbecilic way that I wanted to put my fist through a wall every time I heard it. There's such a lack of lyrical imagination and effort in describing a woman's curves as "humps" and "lumps" that the song becomes almost anti-erotic in its aggressive stupidity.

"Come On-A My House", on the other hand, establishes in two short minutes a much more elegant sexual metaphor: Clooney enumerating all of the succulent fruits and sweets that she will offer to the person she is singing to, if he will come to her house. When she offers him "everything", it carries a seductive charge because of the way that all of the delicacies she offers are what they are, and also what they symbolize. The song bounces along in a jaunty, swaying rhythm, all the while Clooney beckons.

1 comment:

ariyele said...

i think the metaphor goes even further: the house as metaphor for body. your read is that the sweets are the body given if he comes to the house, but i think the fruits are metaphor for the treats of her various body parts etc. the sweetness of her love, the shelter in her bosom, if you will. i really like this one. her voice is great too.
ditto on the picnic basket feeling.