Some songs, though raise much more difficult questions.
Remember “Linda”? (Yeah, I’m sticking with the Forties here. Please place any objections in that circular filing cabinet over there. Thank you.)
The lyrics aren’t too bad. Okay, I’m stumbling a bit over why our narrator thinks telling his beloved that she puts him to sleep is a compliment. Other than that, however, it’s a fairly normal pop song.
The thing is, the song lyrics don’t tell the whole story here. See, the lyric sheet doesn’t include the spoken word segments that open and close the recording (dramatized here).
Yes, the post-WW2 period was one of great social change. I get that. And yeah, by some accounts, there was a shortage of eligible males in the latter half of the decade.
How does Linda not notice that her stalker has completely failed to answer her perfectly reasonable question? Or does she expect to be ignored? What does that say about her upbringing?
She obviously doesn’t know–or doesn’t care about–the warning signs of an overly controlling, potentially abusive, partner. And that outro feels one set of broadcast standards away from “Forget about the coffee and talking, let’s just go to bed.”
The song–though not, I think, the framing device–was written for a young girl. Is it intended as a proper model for her behavior? An exaggeration for effect? It’s certainly not presented as a cautionary tale. And at the time the song was written, the girl in question* was less than a year old.
* Irrelevant to this discussion, the original Linda was Linda Eastman, the future wife of Paul McCartney–who wrote a few question-worthy lyrics himself. Clearly there’s a generational influence happening here.
And, of course, some questions can’t be answered. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” springs to mind*.
* First published in 1922, but the most popular version is arguably Jimmy Witherspoon’s 1947 release.
When the singer talks about jumping into the ocean, she’s not talking about a little dip. The ocean gives and the ocean takes away; is suicide really nobody’s business but the principal? Morality aside, if the water gives back a body, someone has to deal with it.
Maybe it isn’t anyone’s business but those involved if a woman gives all her money to “a friend”, her man, or her father (or is that still “my man”? The language is ambiguous)–or the other way around, for that matter–but wouldn’t most people agree that an intervention is the correct response, especially if there’s physical abuse involved?
How did this song become such a huge hit?