Two Windows Into a Different World

And now for something completely different.

I don’t normally indulge in pop-music nostalgia, but… I recently happened to run across the first of the two songs embedded below. I remembered it clearly, and it reminded me of the second one, which had a somewhat similar theme.

Strictly speaking, both songs were before my time — I was still in my “latency” period back then, but the older boys were listening to those songs and singing along with them, so I remember them well. If I had been an actual testosterone-infused teenager when these tunes were being played on the radio, they would no doubt have had the same heart-wrenching impact on me that they did on the boys who were a few years older.

The first song is “Patches”, by Dickie Lee. It was recorded in 1962:

The second tune, “Rag Doll” (1964), is by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It has a similar theme, but omits the suicide motif:

There was no one like Frankie Valli. He sang like a gelding, but he could really belt it out.

The two relevant lines are:

“My folks say no, and my heart breaks inside.”


“My folks won’t let me ’cause they say that she’s no good.”

“Folks” meaning “parents”, of course. Two parents, a mother and a father. And still married. How odd!

The issue in both cases is the difference in social class between these lovestruck blades and their young fiancées, who are from impoverished circumstances. The parents — who are able to foresee the tragic results of such matches — refuse to let their sons go through with the nuptials.

Just think: the young men that the singers conjure up — who are presumably of legal age — can’t marry their sweethearts because their parents forbid it.

What world was that? Was it in a galaxy long ago and far, far away??

These songs were recorded between 1962 and 1964, just 55-57 years ago. I can remember the period clearly. But it might as well be the Middle Ages.

Thank goodness this stuff has been preserved on YouTube, like flies in amber.

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I don’t want to get into an argument about whether or not the social norms of 1962 are better than those of 2019. I know the arguments that our regular commenters would make, and I can even predict who would come down on which side of the issue.

That’s not my point. My point is that 1962 was a different world.

By the time Frankie Valli sang “Rag Doll” in 1964, that world was already starting to come apart. Swinging London was underway across the pond, the Beatles ruled the pop music world, and the earliest hippies were starting to Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out in San Francisco.

But the norms of the old world were still in place in much of the country. There didn’t have to be a law against marrying a low-class girl, or requiring a young blood to obey his parents. If you were of a good family, and intended to lead a respectable life, you just did those things. That’s the way it was.

And less than twenty years later, Weird Al Yankovic was mocking (with great musical skill) those torch songs on the late ’50s and early ’60s. What happened in the interim?

I don’t know. I lived through it all, but I still can’t say. The old world disappeared, and the new one took its place.

I won’t presume to say which world was better. You all can evaluate the past sixty years and make up your own minds.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

16 thoughts on “Two Windows Into a Different World

  1. Good stuff, Baron. Good stuff: both those songs and your memory of that different world. Thank you, from one of your contemporaries.

  2. There was also “Down in the Boondocks” in which the guy had a crush on the boss’s daughter. Sound familiar? I think the song was written around where I live in SoCal because the landmarks that are mentioned.
    Hollywood was leading the charge because all of these young people with their parent’s money who would spend them on the excuse for music that they were churning out. When the Rolling Stones showed up at Capitol Records (the place with the stack of records with the phonograph needle on top) it was all over. Consumerism, and buy now/pay later which had corrupted our parents, was now at work on their children. It was simply a matter of time (has come today [oops, Chambers Brothers, a band of black boys with a white boy for their drummer, go figure, I never could]).
    The Grimm’s fairy tale of the Pied Piper comes to mind as being rather prescient, what say you? Of course there was whistling Ian Anderson’s “Bouree” around the house and driving my mother bonkers with the notes to Bach’s Bouree that Ian had displaced.
    Now we are left with the consequences of the fun we had. Why can’t we have the fun without the consequences? Wahh!!

    • Chambers Brothers, a band of black boys with a white boy for their drummer

      Early Affirmative Action or just reverse discrimination? You make the call!

  3. Way back in those days, there was a refrain …
    ♫ If you’re going to San Francisco … be sure to wear a flower in your hair ♫
    Today …
    ♫ If you’re going to San Francisco … be sure to have your shots, take a face mask and don’t leave home without your pooper-scooper (for human faeces abounds) ♫
    Deranged, depraved, degenerate and, dare I say it, deplorable Democrats.
    Bob Dylan was right. Times have indeed changed … and most decidedly for the worse !!

  4. Indeed – much to contemplate. Our “folks” are our guardians. To protect us from pain and evil. And that of course, depends on their skills. Just because “they say,” doesn’t make it right or wrong.

    I can recall many times my “folks” being wrong – but in retrospect – they were right more than they were wrong. Especially with practical and sensible things.

    But relationships are different. Young people need experience. To sort out what they can and cannot tolerate long-term.

    I know someone whose parents never were with anyone else (since the age of 15!) They’re more dysfunctional than anyone I know (despite being wealthy).

    A very odd conundrum to think about.

  5. I suspect that the official government lies coming out of WW2 took a while for their corrupting influence to trickle down, but they did…..

    Lies to cover uo how we allied with the USSR

    Lies to cover up how many lives were lost because of the policy of demanding an unconditional surrender.

    Lies about the rehabilitation of ‘valuable’ Nazis; operation paperclip etc.

    Lies about German atomic weapons capability

    And maybe lies about exactly what was agreed between Dulles and Kammler/Woolf/Bormann we may never know.

    This web of lies made what happened in the last 50 years inevitable, we (our leaders) made a pact with the devil,and now we are reaping the consequences.

    • Lies about the rehabilitation of ‘valuable’ Nazis; operation paperclip etc.

      All it takes to make something truly repugnant like Operation Paperclip suddenly come out smelling like a geranium is to consider what would have happened if all those rocket scientists (literally!) had fallen into Soviet hands.

      America’s ability to hold it’s national security nose and make the moonshot pretty much won US the Cold War. The lunar landings convinced many fence-sitters and neutrals that (to quote Jim Morrison, whom I saw perform with the Doors), “The west is the best.”

  6. Yes things have gone so far most places that I feel it is time to find another place, but while you are looking at it wistfully you see Soros sending social engineers in the form of LGBT agitators to change it into the same hole one is trying to escape from. At first a bit of relaxing of rules seemed ok but now it is more like Sodom and Gomorrah. Everything is OK if it makes you happy and most others unhappy. Governments are weakening as they lack the will and resources to turn back the flood of bad behaviour, drugs, crime, murder etc. Their solution to the drug problem is to legalise drugs, their answer to the crime problem is let people out and hope they reform (not enough jail cells to hold them), their answer to murder is to make excuses for the perpetrator etc The lack of consequences is increasing the problems exponentially because now “everyone is doing it” except us and what’s wrong with us? The incarceration rates in Australia are now as high as in the lawless days of the 1800’s when 10,000’s of convicts were shipped here to build a country. Back then crime was a result of poverty, now it is a result of greed and unbridled self gratification (drugs, stealing, fraud, murder, adultery but no one’s married). People are behaving like animals.

  7. Juri Bezmenov says the USA has been targeted for subversion.

    …but he also says that you cannot subvert an enemy who doesn’t want to be subverted.

    The USA used to be a Christian country, but it is not anymore. If it were still a Christian country, Americans would know where all this modern “immorality” leads, and would not be subverted. Just like the Americans of old…

    Moreover, it wasn’t just the Russians, who worked on subversion of the greatest country on Earth, it was other people as well. The Beatles, the Hippies, the “new culture” was all about love – physical sexual love. Forget God, just get some sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll – don’t worry, be happy, as you go down the highway to hell.

    Instead of worshipping God, male Americans were taught by the music industry and the Hollywood to worship women. And women were taught that they must be worshipped by all those beauty and the beast stories.

    The woman riding a beast is a thing – in the Revelation.

    Romeo and Juliett is a tragedy, not a story to follow.

    • Hmm… way back (1960s?), BBC tv had a pop music show called “Juke Box Jury”. They were discussing the latest single from Eric Burdon and the Animals (remember “House of the Rising Sun”?), entitled “Why Not Tonight?”

      One of the panel objected to the sentiment expressed; the chairman, David Jacobs, pointed out that there was a much older music-hall song called “Why should We wait till Tomorrow, when You’re Queen of my Heart Tonight?”, saying the same thing in more flowery language.

      My recollection of stuff from my youth seems to improve; does this mean I’m finally getting old?

      • I wouldn’t know if you are getting old, if your memory improves I’d say you are getting younger?

        I believe that “animal instinct worship” – and the subsequent “female worship” – is as old as Babylon, and Babylon is pretty old…

        Although, the Greek Philosophy – The Republic, for example – or the Bible, they both clearly warn against chasing women. It’s just that today, men are once again supposed to kneel before the woman and worship her in order to have sex with her. And the popular songs tend to go in this direction.

  8. Age-wise, I’m pretty much a contemporary of the protagonist, love-struck teen boys in the songs. What comes across to me is the loneliness and isolation; both boys seem to have little communication outside of their parents and their own heads. Actually, the problem was recognized at the time and there were studies and books written on the anomie.

    We’re dealing with the same problems today. This partly explains the explosive popularity of social media, which is not really that social.

    What I see today is a corrosive pressure to dissolve any sort of group interactions or ethnic, social, or ethical identification on the part of traditional Americans. You can’t have a homogeneous neighborhood, workplace, school, or fraternal club. With diversity, you get loneliness, suspicion, isolation, and lack of group support. We know that group identification works best in a homogeneous environment.

    You had far more opportunity to form or participate in a group like yourself in the 60’s. On the other hand, the communication tools today are far more extensive. Used correctly, in the right environment, you can actually give people, even teens, a greater sense of belonging and self. Of course, you’ll never be able to settle the roiling waters of youth and their emerging social development.

    I think we can have something better than both the 1960’s and better than today. One thing to keep in mind is the relentless pressure by cultural Marxists to dissolve and social bindings and sense of group for any traditional American. Affirmative action, non-discrimination laws, equal justice mandates, disproportionate impact laws, required diversity in neighborhoods: all are tools used by the communists and cultural Marxists to demoralize and dissolve traditional cultural, religious, and ethnic bindings.

    By the way, for a contemporary aspect of the age-old parental interest versus hormonal offspring, read Kushner, Inc, a book about the Kushner family. Significantly, both Jared Kushner and his brother became involved with non-Jewish girls who agreed to convert to Judaism. The Kushner patriarch wasn’t thrilled in either case, but did set up iron conditions for the relationships to go forward, such as supervision of the conversions by a prominent rabbi.

    By the way, if you could have predicted how my response would read, I’d be extremely interested.

    • Nope, I couldn’t predict yours! I was thinking of a few of the others.

      • Well, I’ve just posted a predictable one above, replying to Barn Swallow.

        Maybe less predictably, isn’t the car on the right a Studebaker? A work of art in steel, by the great Belgian designer Raymond Leowy, who also designed locomotives and casseroles, among other things.

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