Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Play Along With the Charade

I do now and always will love Rick Springfield's work of genius, "Jesse's Girl." However, this song has not basked in my affection for all of its existence. There are several good reasons for this. First of all, it debuted 3 years before I was born. But to put the blame more firmly on my shoulders, I actually was not all that familiar with the song until senior year of high school and didn't fall in love with it until freshman year of college. Isn't that terrible? I guess that even with my dedication to classic rock radio stations throughout my life, I just kept missing it.

(You know how it is, flipping radio stations, and every time you stick with a "just ok" kind of song, in the back of your head, in your heart of hearts, you know that your all time favorite song is on another radio station, but there could be even worse songs, so you just stick with the "just ok" song because it's better than some trashy boy band music or Achy Breaky Heart or something, and then when you finally do flip the station, you here the DJ crow, "That was 'Call Me Al' by the great Paul Simon! Jo, we know it's your favorite and we played it just for you!!!" You can probably all relate.)

The point is, I'm sure it was just such a fluke that I never heard it. I was introduced to it, as I said, in high school, when my sister got a $2 mix tape of 80s hits at Kmart. I enjoyed it, but was far more excited about "Higher Love" (you can't beat Steve Winwood) or the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" or, perhaps greatest of all, "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell (Don't touch me. please! I cannot stand the way you TEEAASSE!). I know, I know. I was wrong to take our boy Rick for granted. But probably less than a year later, I heard the song again in a much different setting and I was hooked. A group of Shakespearian players formerly know as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express (now called The Blakfriars Stage Company) came to my school to give a performance of Merry Wives of Windsor. (They are phenomenal in everything I've ever seen them do. If you get the chance to see them, see them!) The whole experience was very educational, as they took time before the show to explain why they did certain things like seat audience members on the stage, keep the house lights on throughout the performance and have a musical prelude; these were all things that happened in theater during the time that Shakespeare was writing. Isn't that thrilling? Anyway, just to keep with their desire to keep the feeling for the show in Shakespeare's time period, the obvious choice was to open with "Jesse's Girl." Obviously. The performance was wonderfully playful and fun and everyone sang along and gave a standing ovation when it was over. How can you not love a song after an experience like that? I went back to my room and... legally acquired the song. That's our story. We lived happily ever after.

Until today, when I learned the horrible horrible truth.

Did you know that "Jesse's Girl" is actually spelled "Jess-I-e's Girl"? What the deuce?! How is that even possible!? Jesse is a boy, so Jesse should be spelled the boy way! Then, my friends at Wikipedia (my *real* friends, not like that traitor Rick Springfield) tell me that Rick picked the name because he saw it on the back of a girl's jersey! So he knew!!! HE KNEW IT WAS A GIRL'S NAME!!!

The question is, can I listen to the song the same way? Even though the spelling hasn't changed in the 26 years of the songs existence, just my awareness of it, can I still enjoy it? I just don't know. Did my enjoyment of CCR's "Bad Moon Risin'" decrease when I realized they weren't saying "There's a bathroom on the right"? No, I suppose I eventually accepted the mondegreen for what it was and moved on with my life. Rick, you're on probation. We'll see how you and your lust-driven ways hold up.

One final thought on "Jesse(I am having a hard time accepting this, so forgive my mis-spelling)'s Girl". One day, probably a year or so ago, I was riding along in the car with my mom and some contingent of sisters when this song came on the radio. We reacted as many would: we cranked the volume, rolled down the windows and sang it at the tops of our lungs. Mom sat patiently through the live performance, and at the end of it, calmly pointed out that, and I quote, "That song is about coveting your neighbor's wife." Honestly. It wasn't until I had been laughing for several minutes that I realized she hadn't been joking. To this day, I have no idea why she said that, but she gets quoted every time the song is played.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't get too bent out of shape. I think your "friend" only got the story partially right. He did get the name Jessie off a jersey, but it was "Ron Jessie", a player for Rams. So you see, even though the name is spelled incorrectly, it still a man's name :)

jo! said...

Are you sure? Now I don't know who to trust! I can only pray that you're right, Oh Nameless One.

Anonymous said...

Haha...Yeah, I'm sure. I have a CD called "Written In Rock-Rick Springfield Anthology"...It's like a greatest hits type thing that came out last year. Rick wrote notes for each of the songs (and of course Jessie's Girl is on there). This is part of what he wrote: "I was wearing this Rams T-shirt with Ron Jessie's name on the back at the time and I think that's where the misspelling came from. Jessie's Girl was originally Randy's Girl". There's more, but you will have to buy the CD to find out...lol. Actually, I don't feel like writing it all out :)

Laura

jo! said...

Thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you! I can at last rest with ease!

Anonymous said...

No problem at all! You seemed a little distraught about it and I just didn't want you to be scarred for life. Also, you're mom's quote was too funny!

Laura

Anonymous said...

just kidding!

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