Lo those many seasons ago, the choices for road-trip entertainment were not as they are today. In the days of the Apple II, the iPad was a rumor of a whisper of a gleam in an afrit’s eye. The Walkman that auto-reversed (thus sparing users the tedium of flipping over the cassette tape) was a marvel. Choose Your Own Adventure books were much prized, though your humble Blogger was an inveterate cheater at them. (“Yes, book. Yes, I did pick up a magic ring in the forest and will thus turn to page 47.”)
It was a different age.
In those days, when a family was confined in a small mobile space for days on end, maintaining a delicate balance regarding listening choices was of paramount importance. A strict rotation was enforced, from Father’s to Mother’s to your Blogger’s to Blogger’s Brother’s and back. This led to a rather eclectic playlist, ranging from bagpipes and the 5th Dimension (Father’s) to Weird Al (Brother’s). Mother’s usual choice (“Could we just have some peace and quiet for once?”) is not quite so memorable.
It is because of this system that I, perhaps unique among my peers, can sing by heart Peter, Paul and Mary’s song “I Dig Rock and Roll Music.” (A “Best Of” collection of P, P and M hits was another of Father’s usual selections.) The other day I happened to be noodling on the Web, and I decided to look up “Too Much of Nothing” (another song on the album). (I was curious to see if the references to “Valerie” and “Marion” in the chorus meant anything. I still don’t have a clue, but I find the chorus haunting anyway.) And for some reason I looked up “I Dig Rock and Roll Music,” too.
O Beloved Readers, I was much astonished by what I learned. Humming along and learning the lyrics as a boy, I had no idea that the song is actually making fun of rock and roll music, as well as such bands as The Mamas and the Papas, and The Beatles. The whole song is ironic, and I didn’t know it until just the other day. (It does explain lyrics like “They’ve got a good thing going when the words don’t get in the way.”)
Imagine my surprise. It turns out Peter, Paul and Mary really didn’t dig rock and roll music. It actually makes me enjoy the song less, since it’s apparently kind of snarky in the proper light, and I happen to like both The Mamas and the Papas and The Beatles a great deal. It’s catchy and well-written, but now it seems mean, too. (I’m sure Paul McCartney is still weeping himself to sleep atop gigantic piles of cash.)
So that’s this week’s Question — what did you, long after you first heard or read or watched it, learn something about that changed your impression of it entirely? What, with experience, is not as it appeared to you in relative innocence? What do you like more or less now that you know more about it?