We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We Had Seasons in the Sun

by gillis

I grew up during the era of the story song. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. Are you humming along yet? If not, you’re too young to truly appreciate the schmaltz of some of these songs. Highlights include “Brandy”- a fine girl who would have been good wife if her love wasn’t already married to his first love –the sea. In my mind, I saw Brandy’s finely braided silver chain with the locket on it, the one from the north of Spain, which may have influenced my decision to take Spanish instead of French a few years later in high school. I pictured Brandy, with hair also braided down her back for some reason, moving from table to table in a dark tavern waiting on crusty fisherman types and pining for her sailor lover. For the sake of disclosure, and just in case I leave my iPod out where it might be seen, I admit his song remains a guilty pleasure of mine to this day.

I wish I could erase the tragic “Wildfire” song from my memory. The one with the young woman who left home in a terrible blizzard, or at the very least least, a “killing frost,” to find her beloved horse who had previously, just barely previously, busted down his stall. I don’t pretend to be an animal behaviorist, or even an equestrian, so when the animal decides that the coldest night of the year is when they are going to make their escape, it perplexes me. Except that I’ve met some of these rabid horse-lovers and if the relationship between rider and horse were dysfunctional, as I suspect many of them are, he was probably smart to be rid of her and her all-consuming passion for him. If that song were cut by a pop artist today, we’d all be wondering what “busted down his stall” was a euphemism for, and hoping our kids didn’t know its meaning. The tragic heroine, or co-dependent, equine-obsessed domineering figure in the song, may make it back yet, and if she does, she will, for sure, be riding Wildfire. Poor b*stard. I have a sick feeling that when I am deep in the throes of senile dementia, this is one of the nuggets that will have lodged its way into my gray matter for good and I’ll recite it as if it happened to me, baffling family members who know I have always lived in fear of horses.

And how about that gem of a song “Billy Don’t Be a Hero?” Who can forget that one? Sure, the Dixie Chicks updated the storyline a bit with their “Travelin’ Soldier” tune a few years ago, but they were unable to match the pathos of the original, and their superior musical skills made it almost listenable. To summarize, Billy’s fiance implored, nee begged him not to be a hero as he was sent off to war, but did he listen to her? No. And when he died, she threw the commendation letter away!! As listeners, who were we meant to side with? The heroic Billy? Or his bereaved almost-widow? It was difficult to determine and there was grief to spare with that song.

It’s true, they just don’t write them like they used to. I suppose we should be thankful.