September 8, 2010

Poison ivy, a brothel, and my father - It all relates, I swear.

Today as I was comtemplating my childhood (and the subsequent effects it has had on my adult life), I remembered a song my dad used to sing to me at bedtime. I think I've actually talked about this before on my blog, but it needs to be mentioned again.

The song that I am referring to is called "Poison Ivy" by The Coasters. Let's disect this a bit, shall we?

First, let's read the lyrics:
She comes on like a rose but everybody knows
She'll get you in Dutch
Now you can look but you better not touch.

Poison ivy, poison ivy
Late at night while you're sleepin',
Poison ivy comes a creepin'

She's pretty as a daisy, but look out man, she's crazy
She'll really do you in now
if you let her under your skin.

Repeat Chorus

Measles make you bumpy
And mumps'll make you lumpy
And chicken pox'll make you jump and twitch.
A common cold'll fool ya
And whooping cough'll cool ya
But poison ivy lord'll make you itch!

You're gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion
You'll be scratchin' like a hound
The minute you start to mess around.

Next, how about you listen to it. I find the tune catchy with an aftertaste of haunting. Click here to listen.

Point number one that I would like to make about this is, why did my father feel that this was an appropriate choice for a lullaby song to sing to his sweet, angel-eyed, squishy, baby daughter at bedtime? Anything with the phrase "late at night while you're sleeping" coupled with anything "comin' a creepin'" might possibly be detrimental to a childs sleeping habits. Dad? Are you out there? You better not sing this to your grandchildren. I will (of course) make a list of qualifying songs, none of which will have the word "creepin'" in them.

Point number two that I would like to make is this - today when I was contemplating my childhood and remembered the fact that my dad would sing this song to me at bedtime, I became curious of who sang the song and when it was made. Naturally, I went to wikipedia - that great, omniscient being on the internets.

This is what wikipedia told me about this little ditty:
"Poison Ivy" is a popular song by American songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was originally recorded by The Coasters in 1959. It went to #1 on the R&B chart and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This was their third top-ten hit of that year following "Charlie Brown" and "Along Came Jones". Blah blah blah.
Ok, here's where it starts getting weird:
The song discusses a girl named Ivy, calling her "Poison Ivy" because of her reputation with men as a player. ("Huh? What's that mean, daddy?" That's the two year old me questioning my father about what a 'reputation' is.) The song makes references to other flowers such as a rose and a daisy, and diseases like measles, mumps, chickenpox, the common cold, and whooping cough. In a recently published biography about Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller, the song's authors, it was revealed that the song's lyrics are about sexually-transmitted disease, not the illnesses previously thought.

Um, excuse, Ricky Baker? Father? Future grandfather to my unborn children? Did you know about this? Were you aware of this literal meaning when you were singing your sweet, angel-eyed, squishy, baby daughter to sleep? I certainly hope not. Otherwise, we have a lot to talk about.

Coming tomorrow: Part Two of "Father to Daughter: I will sing you to sleep, child, with inappropriate lullabies". We'll disect the fact that the other bedtime song PeyPey's dad would sing to her was "House of the Rising Sun", which, in turn, is about a brothel. So, yeah. Chew on that.


April said...

ohh dear...Baker family stories are my favorite! But for real...that is such a weird song to sing to a kid!!!

Merany :) said...

hahaha!!! that is pretty disturbing... btw, your blogs freakin' crack me up!