Doo-Wop and the Root of Evil

the crests 2.jpg

Alright, I understand the confusion that probably came with reading that. And maybe I am the only person who feels this way about the correlation. Nonetheless, it makes for an excellent blog discussion, and it’s fun to look at otherwise innocent things from a cynical point of view. I would also like to make something extremely clear: I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST THIS GENRE OF MUSIC. In fact, I’d go as far to say that classic ol’ doo-wop is one of my all-time favorite genres. The beats are catchy, the moods are romantic, and the dream-like harmonies make me nostalgic for jukeboxes and poodle skirts. It is fun, however, to read a little bit deeper into the lyrics and interpret them in a more complex light.

I’m also not trying to push the idea of an enormous musical conspiracy on anyone. This is more just an observation of the times, and how women were (and continue to be) portrayed unfairly.

So, where does these very basic, primitive ideas stem from? Unsurprisingly, the Bible.

Take the predicament of Adam and Eve. At the root of everyone’s suffering, Eve is portrayed as the woman to blame. It doesn’t matter that the snake essentially manipulated Eve into committing such a sin; utopia essentially goes to shit because of her mistake.

Now, let’s take a look at some of my favorite songs. The themes are all nearly identical: a young woman is distinguished as some sort of heavenly entity (usually an angel.) She is heaven-sent, glorious, glowing, and built on light and purity. And god forbid she decides to leave her lover, the world is suddenly in life-altering shambles, destroyed and stained forever. If anything, Johnny Maestro’s crumbled life without his woman shouldn’t be a reflection of her corruption, it should be some pretty solid evidence that ole Johnny has deep-rooted attachment issues. Let’s elaborate on this, shall we?

Earth angel, earth angel

Will you be mine?

My darling dear

Love me all the time

I’m just a fool

A fool in love, with you

Earth angel, earth angel

The one I adore

Lovely forever and ever more

I’m just a fool

A fool in love with you

Yes in love with you

I fell for you

And I knew

The vision of my love’s loveliness

I hope and I pray

that someday

I’ll be the vision of your happiness

(“Earth Angel” record by Johnny Maestro & the Crests)

As sweet as the song is, we can’t deny that Johnny is putting an unfair amount of pressure on whomever he is bestowing his love upon. We’re seeing the analogy yet again that his lover is a celestial being, and thus alluded to be incapable of making a mistake. And God forbid the woman doesn’t return his love, well…we’re getting there.

You took the joy out of spring

When you broke my heart

Robins don’t sing

Church bells don’t ring

Oh why, why did we part?

You took the joy out of spring

When you kissed me goodbye

Flowers don’t bloom

Gone is the moon

Since you, you made me cry

I used to think that you and I would be a perfect team

You were the girl, I was the boy in every single dream

I told my friends this love of ours would go on good and strong

Then you had to go and prove me wrong

(“You Took the Joy Out of Spring” recorded by Johnny Maestro & the Crests)

Spring, life, joy, and growth are apparently halted and taken away when Johny’s woman apparently f*cks up the relationship. Apparently, impressing his friends with relatively far-fetched expectations was also on the agenda. Essentially, a woman who disobeys in any way is the rough equivalence to the perfect world crashing down.

Obviously, these are (1) personal opinions, and (2) vastly detailed criticisms of songs that are clearly intended to be taken light-heartedly. But, at the same time, why not dig deeper into it? Why not challenge our thinking and our context instead of limiting ourselves?

This is undeniably not a theme that has gone away; in fact, the portrayal of women in media has actually gone even more downhill. Just switch on the radio to hear a glimpse of that loveliness.

I think it’s time I end my tangent here, even though I could go on for a while more. The point of this account is just to share my opinions on the matter, and hear some of your thoughts as well. Feel free to leave me a comment below, and I’ll see you next week!

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