Tag Archives: Alain de Botton

Will your tongue wag so much when I send you the bill?

In this edition: Hi, she’s dazed and I’m confused. TMI on my marriage. E-Z solutions to the marriage/civil union exchanges that frankly, I’m getting a little tired of.

Dazed and Confused

Been dazed and confused for so long it’s not true
Wanted a woman never bargained for you
Lots of people talk and few of them know
Soul of a woman was created below.

You hurt and abused tellin’ all of your lies
Run around sweet baby, Lord how they hypnotize
Sweet little baby I don’t know where you’ve been
Gonna love you baby, here I come again.

Every day I work so hard
Bringin’ home my hard-earned pay
Try to love you baby, but you push me away

Don’t know where you’re goin’
Only know just where you’ve been
Sweet little baby, I want you again

Been dazed and confused for so long, it’s not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you
Take it easy baby, let them say what they will
Will your tongue wag so much when I send you the bill?

— Jimmy Page, 1969. Recorded by Led Zeppelin

Were you aware that there were copyright issues related to this song? As the story goes, the song was originally written by a musician named Jake Holmes, an American singer-songwriter from San Francisco. Holmes released the song 2 years before the Zeppelin release. Jimmy Page had toured with The Yardbirds–which disbanded in 1968–prior to joining Led Zeppelin.  Holmes’ band had opened for The Yardbirds at a NYC show and Page liked the song so much he decided to “borrow” it. The Yardbirds performed Dazed and Confused in concert but never recorded it as an album track. He brought the song to Led Zeppelin’s first rehearsal and changed the lyrics and melody enough that he thought they’d escape lawsuit. The lawsuit didn’t come until 2010 (!) and was settled by the band out of court, to Holmes’ apparent favor.

Page had begun using a violin bow on the guitar strings with The Yardbirds and the song features his bowed work in the instrumental passages. In the early Seventies the song was a jam staple at concerts, played for as long as 45 minutes.

Holmes was also a jingle writer (owing to a career slowdown). He is credited with the “Be all that you can be” U.S. Army recruitment song from the late seventies and eighties as well as the “Be a Pepper” jingle co-wrote with Randy Newman in 1977. In the 1960s, he was in a folk-music parody duo with his wife and trio with Joan Rivers in the group Jim, Jake and Joan. The clip below is from a movie “Once Upon a Coffee House” from 1964. Holmes on guitar. Clean cut folk kids living at the edge of beatnik sensibility.


***** Fond memory alert ******

Driving with my buddy in my 1961 Pontiac LeMans convertible (probably worth a pretty penny today) listening to Led Zeppelin I on the 4-track tape deck. The car looked a lot like this:

1962_Pontiac_Tempest_LeMans_Convertible-aug3aBut

[shudder] And I return from my nostalgic fog…

The song portrays a “somewhat troubled” relationship where women are likened to demonic creatures but sought after anyway. I try to be a 70s guy all cool with women and stuff, but still, as I age, I fight the tendency to become more misogynistic.  One of my major influences in life is Joseph Campbell. He helps explain this:

“Marriage is not a love affair, it’s an ordeal. “

An ordeal in the sense of a difficult or painful experience that severely tests character or endurance. More like walking on coals than a walk in the park. Also from Campbell:

” Committing yourself to anyone, turning your destiny over to a dual destiny, is a life commitment,” and “In marriage you are not sacrificing yourself to the other person. You are sacrificing yourself to the relationship…”

And sacrifice I have (and I’m not so oblivious not to know that my wife would mirror this sentiment). So far I pass the test of character and endurance but I certainly wish it was all easier. Do we not deserve to have our relationships experienced as two pulling together toward the same end? Growing similarly, prioritizing similarly, valuing similarly, and enjoying our unfolding lives together? No, because that’s a bullshit self-delusion that defies any sense of realistic expectation.

Alain de Botton tells us the truth in Religion for Atheists.

“This is a particular priority for secular Americans, perhaps the most anxious and disappointed people on earth, for their nation infuses them with the most extreme hopes about what they may be able to achieve in their working lives and relationships.”

The author’s point in this section of the book is that devout Christian and Jewish marriages are entered into with the idea that there will be limited expectations due to the religious purpose of marriage, to assume an adult position in society and to nurture and educate the next generation. But secular marriage has the expectation of passionate adoration and unending interest and cooperation. Real marriages have friction and boredom and frequently include an underlying current of certainty that a different choice would have yielded better outcomes.

Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell wrote these lyrics for Georgia on my Mind: “Other arms reach out to me. Other eyes smile tenderly. For that peaceful dreams I see, the road leads back to you.” Now that’s romantic hogwash!

 

I see an enormous irony that same-sex couples become so focused on the idea of marriage when I, for one, cannot dredge sufficient enthusiasm to recommend it to even strangers let alone friends.  I definitely have had a level of fulfillment as a father, and in many ways I’m well taken care of, but it seems like this could have been accomplished without the attendant sacrifice of my own best interests in the interests of the marriage. How much easier it would all be if I were incontestably driving instead of having the steering wheel of life slapped away from my reach.

At the same time, the opposition to same-sex marriage is all dependent on that one word, MARRIAGE. The word is shared by marriages performed in courtrooms and cathedrals. Ironically, Catholicism doesn’t have a Sacrament of Marriage, they have a Sacrament of Matrimony. And marriages performed by judges in courtrooms and by Justices of the Peace in Elvis chapels are rightly civil unions as they are established by civil law.

So how do we break through an impasse where the majority agrees to the idea of civil unions while at the same time many oppose same-sex marriage? Where civil union is considered to be second class to marriage, and where marriage is, unfairly I would say, co-opted by religion to represent church-based weddings?

Here’s 3 possibilities:

1. Call any civil law-based union a Civil Union and give it the same legal status as Marriage. (Instead of being married would a couple be considered unionized??)

2. Peel the word marriage away from its religious claims and consider church unions to be Matrimonies or make up a new word like “God-Cleaved.”

3. Stop worrying about that religious claim to the term “marriage,” U.S. laws are not established in a way that favors one religion over another or over no religion, and allow civil unions to be called marriages.

Of the 3, the last has the easiest implementation. I say we go with that.

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Filed under Marriage and Civil Unions, Music, Religion, Social Issues