Friday, July 02, 2010

Sock Hoppin'

Our family recently attended a church activity that was affectionately referred to as a “Sock Hop.” A “sock hop” was a cultural phenomenon associated with the 1950 and early rock n’ roll. I like to think the name was derived from a common ritual that took place in most American high schools during that era, wherein when a young man asked a young lady to dance; if she said ‘no,’ he promptly took her shoes and went running into the night. Thus leaving her to have to “sock hop” all the way home. (It just makes sense.  Of course, I’ve checked zero resources to verify this. But I have to imagine it’s true.)

Not wanting to be unprepared, I thought I’d better do my homework before attending the dance. I began a rigorous study of early rock n’ roll. If a song came on, I wanted to know the moves, the attitude, and the lyrics – so I could belt it out for all the world to hear, while I ran out of the church carrying Katie’s shoes.

I am going to freely admit that I love early rock n’ roll. The simplicity, the playfulness, the contagious toe-tapping. However, in my studies, I came across two songs I simply do not consider boss (to coin a phrase, Daddy-O).

The first song, penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, is the 1962 hit from The Crystals, He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).

What the WHAT?! What kind of complete bull pucky is that? Are those lyrics autobiographical, because that should cause alarm. Let me tell you what some possible song titles would be if my daughter wrote it:

He Hit Me (And My Dad Punched Him in the Throat)
He Hit Me (And His Funeral Services Are This Saturday)
He Hit Me (And He’ll No Longer Be Able to Have Children)
He Hit Me (And Now He Can Only Eat Things Like Jell-O)
He Hit Me (And the Police Still Haven’t Located His Body)

Or at the very, very minimum… He Hit Me (And We Broke Up)

The second song is The Cookies’ Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby). Written by – surprise, surprise – Gerry Goffin and Carole King – the same relationship-savvy duo that wrote He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss). In this lyrical sonnet, our delicate ingénue pleads with us to not say nothin’ bad about her hapless, insipid boyfriend. It’s bad enough this young man is clearly a horse’s patoot, but then, listen to her defense of him. Pitiful.

Everybody says he's lazy
But not when he's kissing me
Everybody says he's crazy
Sure he's crazy, crazy about me (Oh, yeah)

So…what you’re saying is that although it’s common consent that this boy is a useless, unmotivated sap, he’s pretty aggressive and “un-lazy” when he’s trying to eat your face and pushing the boundaries of moral decency. Hmmm…I hear what you’re saying…and while “assertiveness” may be a commendable trait, I’m just not sure that’s a ringing endorsement of his character. Not really the kind of integrity we’re looking for. And then there’s the issue of his sanity, to which you drolly respond “Oh, yes, he’s absolutely insane in the membrane – insane over ME!” (as you throw flowers in the air and twirl). Meanwhile, this “crazy for you” kind of guy is taking a baseball bat to the car of that friendly, upstanding sane boy that he saw you talking to at school. Ah. That’s sweet. Now, why would we say anything bad about your baby?

But aside from these two songs, I have to state for the record that in general, early rock n’ roll songs were delightfully lighthearted, fun tunes. I say we need more sock hops! I miss the simple days of yesteryear – when little ditties made you smile, when youth shared a single soda with two straws, and when Gerry Goffin and Carole King were evidently in a highly dysfunctional, complex relationship that led to financial success and abusive kissing.


Here’s a clip of our festive night. Let me just answer your questions right now:
  1. Yes, Katie made those poodle skirts for Abbie, Roxanna, and Becca.
  2. Yes, it was the most fun night of Connor’s life.
  3. No, they did not play He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) or Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby)