Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's Only Words......

Back in England, and in the long ago when song lyrics were finely crafted poetry rather than repetitious two-line chants, on occasion, listening to songs from the USA, I'd come across one or two words "foreign" to me.

#1 Carousel was a favourite movie back then. In The Soliloquy from that musical there was one mystery:
You can have fun with a son
But you gotta be a father to a girl
She mightn't be so bad at that
A kid with ribbons in her hair!
A kind o' sweet and petite
Little tintype of her mother!
What a pair!


I assumed from the context that this was some kind of mirror image. It was many decades later that, wandering around antique stores in the USA, I found out exactly what a tintype is. I suppose they had tintypes in England too, but I wasn't aware of them.
Tintype, also melainotype and ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling and is used as a support for a collodion photographic emulsion.
Photographers usually worked outside at fairs, carnivals etc. and as the support of the tintype (there is no actual tin used) is resilient and does not need drying, photographs can be produced only a few minutes after the picture is taken.

A couple of tintypes from among husband's collection of vintage photographs - these girls could be exactly what the song lyrics described!

#2 From the movie Easter Parade:
"On the Avenue...Fifth Avenue...
The photographers will snap us...
And you'll find that you're...
In the rotogravure"
Rotogravure? I had no idea, and in those days no handy Google to enlighten me. I've since discovered that when Easter Parade was written, rotogravure was a method of printing used to print photographs in newspapers. Sunday editions would often have a section dedicated to photographs and known as the roto or rotogravure section. So, "you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure ..." means that your photograph would appear in the rotogravure section, because you'd be interesting enough to report about...

I found these via Google - vintage rotogravure sections. The first features one rather scary photograph, top left, of Klanswomen, the second features more benign subject matter!

#3 Little Deuce Coupe (Beach Boys' song)

I thought at first it was something to do with ice cream - but no. It was a car.
The deuce coupe was a 1932 Ford coupe - called a "deuce" because of the "two" in 1932. A coupe style car in general featured a closed body style with permanently fixed top, usually a two-door car with two front seats and a luggage compartment.

If I'd seen the album cover, or listened more closely to the lyrics, I'd have been less puzzled:
Little deuce Coupe
You don't know what I got
Little deuce Coupe
You don't know what I got

Well I'm not braggin' babe so don't put me down
But I've got the fastest set of wheels in town


Wisewebwoman said...

I had the very same difficulties, T, strange words indeed. Lovely post.

mike said...

Two cents plain...efforf...shaddi...anticlockwise...bees knees...blow me(!)...duff...gen up...jammy bastard...naff off...on the piss...owt for nowt...shag...zed

For a list of British colloquialisms:

Doubt that I'll visit Britain soon, but I'll take a British language class when I do! Tara!

Vanilla Rose said...

Some songs still have lots of lyrics, but I know what you mean. I'm thinking about Rhianna. Yes, yes, you found love in a hopeless place. You told me that already. Now please tell me where you were, why it was "hopeless", how you found the love and what happened next. Her song about diamonds is not much better. Is she too busy wearing fur and snakeskin and partying to learn any lyrics?

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Thanks, WWW. :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~~ You should swot up on Cockney rhyming slang too, that'll fair make yer Barnet stand on end, yer won't Adam and Eve it!


Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Yes, there are still a few decent lyrics around - the exception rather than the rule though, especially from the past 5 or so years.

I think they're all just too busy busy being "Celebrities" these days ! ;-)

mike (again) said...

Cor Blimey! I'm a gormless septic. Eh, what did you say, Twilight? LOL

mike (again) said...

P.S. - I came across Banoffee pie while studying the British language here. Have you tried you like it? I may try making it soon. I assume the name is a cross of banana and toffee.

Here in the deep south, we have "cajeta", a Mexican caramelized milk. I love it. It can be purchased ready-made at most grocery stores here.

Twilight said...

mike ~~
I've heard of Banoffee pie but never had opportunity to try it - sounds a little over-sweet for my taste.
Wiki says the idea for it originated in the USA - which sounds about right- y'all love combining stuff - gets out of hand at times I think. Flavoured coffee for instance - YUK!!!

Your Mexican restaurants down there will be a deal more authentic than ours, which are Tex-Mex, heavy emphasis on the Tex. I had a very nice desert in Austin once, in a Mex cafe - sponge cake with a thick custardy filling - haven't seen it on a menu anywhere since.