100 Days Project

Michael: Saving the languishing lyrical gems of modern pop

My aim is to trawl through my memory, my "record collection" and quotation references to unearth great pop poetry, drop it in, shine it up, make a comment or two as to its origin and personal impact. Enlighten? Hmm. Entertain, amuse, I hope. 100 times.

Day 55:

(Not so) Merry Go Round

That I discovered this song at all is down to a series of happy accidents, most of which I"m ashamed to admit. First, I heard it on The Breeze. Uh-huh. It's what Radio I used to be. Exactly. Worse, it was on Mark Leishman's show. FFS, big dogs, patronising tone and bad, bad playlist. Worserer, it was on his country show. Triple bad FFS. Actually, C& W has come a long way since it was cryin' in your beer music, with everyone from Ryan Adams to Taylor Swift (yep) bringing it up with a round turn.

The Leash has a C & W show on Sundays at 7 and I tuned in on the way home from work one day. That four minute drive was soundtracked delightfully by Kasey, of whom I had not heard until that very minute. She'd picked up some award for her song "Merry Go Round" so The Leash was goving it the lash to open his show. And the opening lines are/were:

"If you ain't got two kids by 21,
You're probably gonna die alone.
Least that's what tradition told you"

My attention was piqued. Sarcasm is a joy in lyrical meanderings, as is that whole "get me out of this small town and quick" lyrical seam. I settled in for a good ride and was duly rewarded. From an album called "Same Trailer, Different Park" comes this gem of a song. Lyrically it's a paen to small town hypocrisy; musically it's a little bit country, Donny, but there's some "alt" guitar leanings in there too. The verse continues the tongue lashing, but it's a tired, resigned lashing:

"Come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to."

You bet. Then her motif, if you will:

"Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park"

which is suitably sad, before the crackling chorus:

"Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down."

Cute! But is it really?

"Mary, Mary quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down.
This merry go 'round."

Made me think of Greg Johnsons's "Ballgowns and Small Towns", same sentiment, different compass points, or summink. Next round:

"We think the first time's good enough.
So, we hold on to high school love.
Sayin' we won't end up like our parents.
Tiny little boxes in a row.
Ain't what you want, it's what you know.
Just happy in the shoes you're wearin'.
Same checks we're always cashin' to buy a little more distraction"

Depressing enough? It's got a kinda 50s vibe to it, too, so it all seems black and white and grey... then, just to prove she don't pull no punches, it ends on a far from upbeat note:

"Jack and Jill went up the hill.
Jack burned out on booze and pills.
And Mary had a little lamb.
Mary just don't give a damn no more."

It was released last year; check it out. Maybe now Taylor's come over all rock-chic there's room for someone with some sarky sass to take her place?