Monday, December 21, 2009

There Were Moments When

The past...

"Past... well now, let me tell you about the past,
The past is filled with silent joys and broken toys,
Laughing girls and teasing boys,
Was I ever in love? I called it love... I mean, it felt like love,
There were moments when, well, there were moments when..."

This is such an amazing, weird song... In 2 minutes and 44 seconds the writers trio of Jerry Leiber, Arty Butler and Shangri-Las discoverer/producer Shadow Morton manages to conjure up a mysterious mini-opera in three parts. The song´s clever arrangement winks at classical music, setting the perfect scene for leadsinger Mary Weiss´s close-to-tears, spooky spoken vocals, which alternate from the - almost - resigned to the downright desperate.


"Go out with you? Why not...
Do I like to dance? Of course...
Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to,
But don't try to touch me, don't try to touch me,
Cause that will never happen again...
Shall we dance?"

What´s going on here? Just when you thought this was just another song about a past romance gone wrong, the ´don´t try to touch me´ line hints at something darker, something far worse and traumatic. Rape maybe? And that´s probably one reason why the Shangri-Las, undisputed queens of melodrama, never scored a big hit with this ´66 masterpiece, as they did before with predecessors like Leader Of The Pack and Give Him A Great Big Kiss.

The future...

"Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow´s a long way off...
Maybe someday I'll have somebody's hand,
Maybe somewhere someone will understand,
You know, I used to sing - a tisket a tasket a green and yellow basket,
I'm all packed up and I'm on my way and I'm gonna fall in love,
But at the moment it doesn't look good,
At the moment it will never happen again...
I don't think it will ever happen again..."


The Shangri-Las - Past, Present And Future MP3


Unknown said...

Weird and melodramatic - definitely, but there's also that piano in the background playing a classical piece (Chopin maybe?), the name of which I just can't recall. Maybe someone will recognise it?

A must for the vinyl curiousity collector. Thankyou - and all the very best for 2010

Anonymous said...

@ graeme - Its the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven :)

Never heard this track before, it's really good thanks for sharing

Ramone666 said...

Roll over, Beethoven. And thanks for clearing this up, Ashyle.

laeva65 said...

Man, the Shangri-Las.

That song is beyond teen angst. It's teenage Ingmar Bergman! Grim, like the Seventh Seal or something.

Somebody was trippin' in the control booth for that psychodrama.