Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Song Selection – Richard Cory: Simon and Garfunkel

A Song of the 99%

“But I work in his factory 
And I curse the life I'm living 
And I curse my poverty 
And I wish that I could be, 
Oh, I wish that I could be, 
Oh, I wish that I could be 
Richard Cory.” – Paul Simon

How to have a fun and festive, pre-St. Patrick’s Day Saturday? Share a Simon and Garfunkel classic about a man who “went home last night, and put a bullet through his head.” Then, once regaling in the mirth and merriment of that uplifting and light-hearted ditty, further examine the joyful tale of Master Cory’s fretful fate with the original poem that inspired songsmith Simon.  And to reiterate, yes, you did indeed read the word “poem” as in verse, and rhyming and couplets, for it is far passed time that this bloviated blog acquired some class, refinement, sophistication and, might I even go so far as to suggest, savior faire, should the subject be so suited.

It’s Saturday, a day to vacate the often ugly anger and acrimony of politics and its dissonant discourse for a much anticipated return (not by anyone in particular) to a favorite feature from the past – “Saturday Song Selection.” That being said, the political nature of both Simon’s composition and Edwin Arlington Robinson’s elegy can hardly be disregarded.  Though one is from 1965 and the other 1897, the story and the conflict within is are as fresh today as Mitt Romney’s recorded comments on the 47% tape expressing admiration for the efficiency and profitability of the business model of a Chinese factory he toured, where young girls work for pennies a day, imprisoned within the barbed-wire-fenced walls,  housed in dormitories, 12 girls to a room, sleeping in 4 sets of bunk beds stacked 3 high, with a single bathroom being shared by 10 rooms.  While articulating his ardor for those appalling working conditions, Romney was as elated and aroused as when imagining a Marie Osmond nipple slip on “Dancing with the Stars.” Mitt Romney is Richard Cory, but without the conscience and remorse (and, so much for leaving politics behind.)

From the Tea-publican dawn of time, 4000 years ago, when man and dinosaur together roamed the earth,  and Fred Flintstone busted the stones of Mr. Slate; to their apocalyptic, nihilist One World Government feverish, future fantasy where all pistol-packing, God-gracing, liberty-loving, formerly-free Americans will be enslaved, placed in internment camps or sent off to reservations, inconceivable conditions to those proud patriots who have no knowledge of their nation’s history, believing it a favored, Yahweh creation;  there will forever be the "well to do, up on Lennox Avenue," and the proletariat who shed blood, sweat and tears (and on rare occasion, even earth, wind and fire) to provide population and profit for their enterprises, and the enrichment of the few.  The 1% versus the 99% is no new phenomenon but rather an auld acquaintance never to be forgot, and likely to be ever-present in the annals of humankind as long as inordinate, if not even, obscene wealth inequity, along with imbalance in living conditions and quality of life exist.

Simon and cityman
Unbeknownst to Mr. Simon (whose recent Saturday Night Live appearance revealed his current look as a “Little Big Man” doppelganger, he and nycityman have a long and storied history (currently playing out in a “cease and desist” order.) From receiving the “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” LP, an initial step  from children’s music to more mature fare (thanks to the vast booty acquired from Mom and Dad’s  introductory order as members of the Columbia Records Club), to a presentation of a Simon lyric for an intermediate school poetry project, to pathetically picking my way through “The Paul Simon Songbook” when first an extremely unskilled, high school taught, beginning guitar player, to Simon’s hosting duties in the early SNL years (commonly considered “our show” to television devotees of a certain age and philosophy), to  attendance at the historic, free Simon and Garfunkel reunion concert in Central Park, this fellow New Yorker has almost always been an nycityman cultural presence and is long overdue to be featured in “Saturday Song Selection.” As someone who attempts creativity and entertainment through manipulation of the written word, I would kill an aimless drifter for just a fraction of Simon’s aptitude and ability with the English language.

The Poem
Richard Cory by American Poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869 – 1935)

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Saturday, March 16th Birthdays
Fabulously, successful restaurateur, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, turns 55 today, mentioned only to allow nycityman to annoyingly elevate his proboscis high-aloft into the ether and boast of attendance at his elite and expensive, self-named eatery (one must live up to one’s given nom de blog.)

Longtime readers know that certain biographical elements guarantee inclusion into the birthday well-wishes. “Laugh-In” cast members will always be feted as will any objects of early, amorous, adolescent longing. So, many happy returns of the day to Canadian born actress, Kate Nelligan, who, until this very moment, I believed to be of British birth. Lust knows no nationality.
"Come to me, nycityman."
Chuck Woolery, born in 1940, promised he’d be returning in “two and two” and we haven’t seen him since.

Stage, screen and television actor, Victor Garber, will be extinguishing 64 candles today and we… (sorry, lost interest.)

Classic, legendary and long deceased comic, Henny Youngman, would have turned 107 today. He left us for the great Catskills resort in the sky in 1998. In 1987, after 58 years of marriage, they took his wife… please.

We conclude with celebratory congratulations to the biggest star of the day, show business icon, and The King of “Classy” Comedy – happy 87th to comic, actor, writer, director, philanthropist, a man who knows the farcical potential of a misadjusted disposal lighter in close proximity to large nostrils, and the hoped for hilarity of a bellowed “lady!” when emerging in a child’s voice from an adult body, not only a legend in his own mind, but a legitimate, genuine  legend,  Jerry Lewis.  Say what you will of his purportedly, over-sized sense of self-importance, his rampant egomania and his mythically proportioned difficult personality, Jerry must always be credited and appreciated for his lifetime of dedication and hard work to the cause of eliminating Muscular Dystrophy, and the unceremonious and disrespectful removal from his position and status in the MDA is a black mark in that organization’s history.
In certain circles, this is considered  very funny
From a live 1966 appearance on Canadian television, (maybe Kate Nelligan was there) Simon and Garfunkel perform, “Richard Cory.”

Have any comments, questions, criticisms, compliments, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com. 

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