Tag Archives: radio

Gavotte words?

Do you ever think about—really think about—where we get our vocabulary words?

They come from an endless variety of places. There are the ones we were forced to learn in school, the ones we read in books and looked up, the ones we heard smart people use and adopted as our own. There are the ones our parents wrote on cards and made us study in the small room of the house.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still collecting vocabulary words. From time to time I spotlight my favorite ones in this space. Right next to the song lyrics.

Only recently have I thought about the words I learned in my adolescent years as a radio junkie. One day last week, while in the car, I remembered the first time I ever heard the word invincible. I wonder if you learned it from the same source.

If you’re about my age, and you grew up listening to Top 40 hits of the 60s and 70s, you too might have learned invincible from Helen Reddy. “I am strong, I am invincible, I am wom-a-a-a-n.”

I’m making an effort now to listen more closely and nostalgically to the oldies so I can build the list.

I had never heard of a funeral pyre until 1967, when The Doors sang, “and our love become a funeral pyre,” which I confess I thought was funeral parlor; it makes about as much sense, not to mention the lack of subject-verb agreement. Leon Russell came along in 1972 with “I’m up on a tight wire, flanked by life and the funeral pyre.”  I still didn’t know what a pyre was but I liked the song and, looking back, it’s pretty darn poetic.

Let’s skip over pompatus, because it’s been overdone and everyone knows pompatus isn’t really a word. Next?

Again in 1972, I learned a word that I couldn’t imagine ever using, but it caught my attention when Carly Simon sang, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte.” I think I did try to look up gavotte as a curious 12-year-old, and have been looking for the right opportunity to use it ever since. It was also in  “You’re So Vain” that I first heard of Saratoga.

In 1973, I first heard the word espionage. Anyone remember where? It’s obscure, I know. “He’s a mastermind in the ways of espionage.” All these years later, I still know all the words  to “Uneasy Rider” by Charlie Daniels (from which I also first heard of John Birch and Mario Andretti).

I know there are more. Can we keep this going?

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Music

School’s out

In about a week, the schools in our area will close for the summer. Where you live, kids might already been out. Here, it’s always the latter half of June.

I no longer have a kid in school, so I don’t keep track any longer; yet, the fact that the last day of school is just around the corner is acutely evident, for two reasons. One, the ice cream truck is coming around in the afternoon. Two, Alice Cooper is on the radio. A lot.

It was the summer of 1972; I was in my final days of elementary school, when “School’s Out” hit the charts.

Don’t pretend you don’t know it. I bet you can tell me exactly where you were on your life’s road or where the song takes you when you hear it today.

For me it was Annandale, Virginia. I felt so grown up, saying good-bye to the school with the little chairs, and facing junior high with excitement and anxiety. Mostly, “School’s Out” meant spending seven days a week at the Wakefield Chapel pool and having sleepovers where we listened to music and called our requests in to WPGC radio.

By 1972, I had outgrown David Cassidy; Alice Cooper was a real rocker. He sang rebelliously about the fantasied obliteration of school (not such a realistically dangerous notion back then) and we could relate to it. I understand that, in 2004, Rolling Stone named “School’s Out” one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. I never owned an Alice Cooper record, but if I had it to do over, I would have snapped one up at Rainbow Tree.

I confess, when that song comes on the radio, I still crank it up and sing along. Belted it out it just yesterday, as I pulled out of the grocery store parking lot, after stopping for Activia.

To this day, while far from poetic, my favorite verse is:

Well we got no class
And we got no principles [play on words, perhaps?]
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

Please don’t think less of me.

So, where were you when you first grooved to this song? And hearing it on American Idol doesn’t count.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio, Music