Retro Pop & Me: A Love/Hate Relationship

“We could argue about what constitutes the creepiest line in pop music, but for me it’s early Beatles- John Lennon, actually- singing ‘I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.” -Stephen King

You know what I love best sometimes? Flipping on an oldies station and letting the sweet, sweet sounds of Buddy Holly or The Chordettes or The Temptations transport me back to a simpler time.

You know what I also really don’t love at all sometime? Flipping on an oldies station and realizing that those sweet, sweet sounds are often just coatings on a nonsensical, chauvinistic (or even creepy) pill.

Retro pop and me… we have a love/hate relationship.

What follows is a list of 10 songs, mostly (if not all) from the 1960’s, with a lyrical selection and a brief commentary. I’ve found this musical era a goldmine for both cheerful observation AND righteous indignation. Please feel free to add your own thoughts to mine.


Tell Him (The Exciters)

Ever since the world began, it’s been that way for man
And women were created
To make love their destiny
Then why should true love be so complicated, oh yeah?

I used to like this one. It was actually the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane that ruined it for me, but the lyrics are pretty bad, too.

Apparently the number-one purpose of female-kind on this earth is to pursue romantic love. Who knew?

Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry (Darlene Love)

Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry
He’s just what I’ve been waiting for, oh yeah
With every kiss, “Ooh, this is it” my heart keeps saying
Today I met the boy I’m gonna marry

Love at first sight is one thing. Lifetime commitment at first sight? A bit much.

Also, you’ve JUST met and you’re already kissing repeatedly? Girrrl! You’d best be taking a step back and reevaluating your whole life and maybe undergoing some kind of psychological evaluation before jumping into a relationship (much less marriage).

Good Mornin’ Life (Dean Martin)

Last night she said she loved me
What a pity to part
I slept with both eyes open waiting for today to start

No snarky comments. I really enjoy this song. It’s peppy. It’s cheerful. It’s not quite delusional…

Dean Martin, guys. Dig it.

A Teenager In Love (Dion & The Belmonts)

One day I feel so happy, next day I feel so sad.
I guess I’ll learn to take the good with the bad.
Each night I ask the stars up above,
Why must I be a teenager in love?

The lyrics might be maudlin, but hey… at least they’re honest. I don’t recommend conversations with stars, though. Not for love-sick adolescents or anyone else. Talk to someone who can talk back, kids. It’ll make the emotional roller coaster a lot less nauseating.

Wonderful World (Sam Cooke)

Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student,
But I’m tryin’ to be
For maybe by being an “A” student, baby,
I can win your love for me

This probably isn’t going to work, Sam. But there are way worse ways to woo a girl. At least this way you’ll wind up with a quality education, even if it doesn’t work out, right?

I actually like this one a lot, too. And not just because it makes me think of Harrison Ford dancing in Amish country.

You Don’t Own Me (Leslie Gore)

Don’t tell me what to do
Don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause
You don’t own me

All well and good for a 60’s feminist anthem, but how much does it really mean coming from someone who cries at her own party?


Dream Lover (Johnny Burnette)

Every night I hope and pray
A dream lover will come my way
A girl to hold in my arms
And know the magic of her charms
‘Cause I want
A girl
To call
My own
I want a dream lover
So I don’t have to dream alone

This is the most puzzling song on the list. Because the context of the song makes it sound like you’re talking about sleepy-time dreaming, Johnny. And even if you find the perfect girl, your sleepy-time dreams are still going to be a solo thing. That’s how sleepy-time dreams work. You don’t get to share those.

Sorry, Johnny.

Take Good Care Of My Baby (Bobby Vee)

Once upon a time that little girl was mine
If I’d been true, I know she’d never be with you
So, take good care of my baby
Be just as kind as you can be
And if you should discover
That you don’t really love her
Just send my baby back home to me

I don’t often go into protective friend-girl mode, but daggone if you don’t push me over the edge, Bobby.


If You Wanna Be Happy (Jimmy Soul)

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So for my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

A really happy, fun song. If you don’t pay attention to the lyrics.
Let me sum them up for my readers:

Attractive women can’t cook, and they will cheat on you. Ugly girls are great cooks and will be so grateful for your attention that you will have their unswerving devotion for all eternity. Jimmy Soul and his backup gang then remind you over and over about fifty times which of these female people will make you a perfect wife.


This is easily the peppiest, poppiest dose of sexism you’ll find in any era.

Why Do Fools Fall in Love? (Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers)

Why does the rain fall from above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?

To answer your first question, because that’s where the clouds are, and that’s how gravity works, sir.

Second question, because they’re fools. Obviously.

Third question, I said, BECAUSE THEY’RE FOOLS. Pay attention.

*Shakes head* *Walks away*

3 thoughts on “Retro Pop & Me: A Love/Hate Relationship

  1. I used to absolutely love Lena Horne and her bluesy smooth style. It wasn’t until I got her “Stormy Weather” album and actually read the lyrics that I realized just how many songs were about a woman being beaten by her lover. I guess I discovered just why the blues were called the blues!


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