Slit Skirts

townshend

Aging gracefully is one of the great challenges in the life of a rock’n’roller. Many artists have pissed away their maturity chasing the tail of their youth. Just as many have gone to an early grave without having to confront the challenge. Then there are the few who tackle it head-on.

Pete Townshend was a great help to me when I was a teenager. He found words for thoughts I was too inarticulate to express. His band’s Quadrophenia was blaring in the background of my first kiss. And as he got older he found words to express the bittersweet nature of aging.

 Slit Skirts, from Townshend’s 1982 album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes takes on the subject with his usual musical bravado and some unusually literary lyrics.

Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts…

I was just thirty-four years old and I was still wandering in a haze
I was wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were
Lost in a maze
I don’t know why I thought I should have some kind of
Divine right to the blues
It’s sympathy not tears people need when they’re the
Front page sad news.
.
The incense burned away and the stench began to rise
And lovers now estranged avoided catching each others’ eyes
And girls who lost their children cursed the men who fit the coil
And men not fit for marriage took their refuge in the oil
No one respects the flame quite like the fool who’s badly burned
From all this you’d imagine that there must be something learned
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts.
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
Have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance
.
Let me tell you some more about myself,
you know I’m sitting at home just now.
The big events of the day are passed
and the late TV shows have come around.
I’m number one in the home team, but I still feel unfulfilled.
A silent voice in her broken heart complaining that I’m unskilled.
And I know that when she thinks of me, she thinks of me as him,
But, unlike me, she don’t work off her frustration in the gym.
Recriminations fester and the past can never change
A woman’s expectations run from both ends of the range
Once she walked with untamed lovers’ face between her legs
Now he’s cooled and stifled and it’s she who has to beg
.
Slit skirts, Jeanie never wears those slit skirts
And I don’t ever wear no ripped shirts
Can’t pretend that growing older never hurts
Knee pants, Jeanie never wears no knee pants
We have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
.
Slit skirts, slit skirt
Jeanie isn’t wearing those slit skirts, slit skirt
She wouldn’t dare in those slit skirts, slit skirt
Wouldn’t be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance, romance, why aren’t we thinking up romance?
Why can’t we drink it up true heart romance
Just need a brief new romance

The Swallowtail Jig

Men-Black-Handmade-Steampunk-Tailcoat-Jacket-Black-Gothic

It is presumed that The Swallowtail Jig was written in the middle of the Nineteenth Century and came to America with the Irish migrant caravan of that era. It is also known as The Dancingmaster and both names come from the men’s coat that forks in the back like the tail of the swallow.

 

Here is my take on the song with video of the bird showing off his signature tail and a couple of fine jig dancers to give an idea of the steps that fit this type of song. I had to slow down the dancers as they were jigging to a faster tune. The BBC slowed down the birds on their own.

 

I Have To Say

This song, like John Lennon’s Woman, is addressed both to the specific woman I’ve built my life around, and to all individuals of her gender. This feels like a moment for me to be quiet and do some listening. I’ve already heard everything I Have To Say.

In another similarity with Beatle John, my compositions sometimes slip into the familiar ¾ time of the waltz. I never learned how to do the dance but its rhythm speaks to me.

I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes
I love you
I’m sorry I forget to tell you sometimes
how beautiful you are
Some things seem so obvious that I don’t have to say them
But I do have to say them
And you do have to hear them
Because they’re more important than anything I have to say
I have to say
.
I know I get under
Your skin and you wonder
What life would be like
Without Mr. Mike
Probably better
And probably worse
And probably someday the last will be first
Before we get to that day
I want to hear everything that you say
And I do have to hear you
You do need to speak
Because I’ve already heard everything I have to say
.
The first one I ever saw fade into black
was my Uncle Jack
He never came back
Now there’s so many slipped through the cracks
That I’m losing track
And the voices of these ghosts
Drown out the one that I need most
And I do need to hear you
You do need to speak
Because I’ve already heard everything I have to say