Mother's Little Well Respected Doctor Robert
Tue, 17 Jan 2006 11:35:48 -0500
It seems that there was this tiny little subgenre of pop music that
appeared in 1966... basically a rather sly, nudge-wink portrait of some
member of "normal" society. The Kinks started it with "A Well Respected
Man" (1/66), then the Stones replied with "19th Nervous Breakdown"
(3/66); the Kinks responded with "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" (6/66),
and then the Stones again with "Mothers Little Helper" (7/66)... I would
put "Doctor Robert" into this genre too, although in this case it's not
an obvious put-down like the others. I think it's interesting that,
besides the subject matter, these songs also seem to be roughly similar
to one another in rhythm/tempo.
I'm sure there are other examples of songs with broadly similar content
from that period, although not necessarily with the similar musical
sound. I think, to really fit this particular niche, a song should be
about revealing the absurdity or the dark side of the subject's "normal"
Good one Chris... don't forget ELEANOR RIGBY.
I think the KINKS took it to HIGH ART......... Face To Face... Something
Else... Village Green Preservation Society... I always loved that style of
storytelling... a "slice of life" point of view.
dave (...wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave...)
I would think Mr. Pleasant would also fit into theis category.
Agreed... there are so many songs that fit into this "sub-category". And
let's not forget The Who's TATTOO or PICTURES OF LILY or SUBSTITUTE or HAPPY
"Silas Stingy" too, perhaps. And, yeah, Ray Davies is clearly the
master of the field. Though Zappa ("Bow Tie Daddy," for starters)
probably has even more relevant material -- just not as good -- if
you survey his entire catalog (not just the late '60s) and don't
disqualify songs in the first-person or second-person tense.
Seemed like the original poster was looking for songs with a
third-person "storytelling" feel.
A few more songs which may fit:
Beatles-Nowhere Man, Mean Mr. Mustard or The Fool on the Hill
Paul McCartney-Another Day
Pink Floyd-Corporal Clegg or Arnold Layne
Simon & Garfunkel-Mrs. Robinson
Rolling Stones-2000 Man
Monkees-Mr. Webster or Salesman
The Cowsills-Mister Flynn or The Fantasy World of Harry Faversham
Seems like there should be a song off the Pretty Things' S.F.
Sorrow which qualifies...or something by Gainsbourg or the Bonzo
Dog Band, maybe? I don't know those artists' full catalogs well.
And I can't vividly recall the lyrics of the "Saga of Rodney
Toady" suite off the pre-King Crimson Giles, Giles & Fripp album,
but I bet it's in the ballpark.
dave (...and in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen...)
I don't think it's anything more interesting or noteworthy than a
trendy bandwagon that a bunch of artists jumped on resulting in a bunch
of similar sounding songs. The Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday" fits
the pattern I think although the subject is expanded from an individual
person to a whole neighborhood.
1966 was the watershed year of music in the 60s, mostly because it
contained different styles, and paved the way for the psychedelia of
the following years. It's my fave year for many reasons. Although,
"Paperback Writer" and "Rain" don't sound like the other songs you
mentioned, they are also put-down's. Paul's writer will do anything to
get published, even change the whole book around. John's narrative
talks about people who run and hide their heads when the going gets
tough. Great A/B single.
Perhaps Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" helped kicked this off (released in
the summer of 65 on Highway 61 Revisted). Dylan's Mr. Jones seems like the
prototype of the troubled, confused middle class guy pretending to be happy
at home but finding it difficult to adjust to change. (John was sure aware
of Mr. Jones --- reference in Yer Blues (as was anyone in the music biz back