Who knows how it came up during our Goodboys weekend in Las Vegas, but somehow, whether it was during our Saturday round of golf at Angel Park and/or our dinner at Red Square afterwards, fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski brought up this song – a hit for The Fifth Dimension back in 1971. The song, written by that killer songwriting duo of Hal David and Burt Bachrach, who, while especially writing for Dionne Warwick, had a number of fine works they could take credit for – unfortunately, this was not one of them. Nevertheless, ever since Killer brought that damned tune up, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind, and frankly, it’s starting to tork me off.
Therefore, in the hope that a good fisking of the lyrics will somehow exorcise the song from my cranium, here they are in all their glory with my ‘expert’ commentary. But before I do, there’s a significant assumption I’m making here, which is: since both the writers of the song have significant experience writing for female artists, and the lead singer of this song was a woman (Marilyn McCoo), I’m going out on a limb and assuming this song was written for a woman to be sung from a woman’s perspective. Oh, and one more thing: this song had a kind of call-and-response thing going between McCoo and the group, so the lyrics you see in parentheses are what the group sang behind her. Got it? OK, here we go:
One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after -
I should be happy, but all I do is cry…
I’m thinking this was a pretty dysfunctional relationship right from the git-go. Most people listening probably think the chick’s upset because her lover’s gone, but I’m thinking the real reason she’s upset is because suddenly she’s got way too much time on her hands due to no: a) bells to answer, b) eggs to fry, or c) men to pick up after.
I think we need to look at this more closely. If she was picking up after the dude and frying his egg in the morning, one must assume the guy was either living there, or at least staying for breakfast on a regular basis, right? So why would he have to ring the bell whenever he came over? I’m thinking, if the guy felt comfortable enough there to be leaving dirty dishes behind, tossing his clothes all over the floor (and probably leaving the toilet seat up as well), shouldn’t he have at least had a key? I mean, what’s up with that?
Me, I’m thinking the woman must have either: a) been a total beast and tossed his sorry a$$ outta there, but now regrets it, or b) the guy was a total beast, to the point where she had to toss his sorry a$$ outta there but she now regrets it. I mean, there’s no middle ground here. Whatever happened, he’s gone, and now she’s hanging around a very quiet (but very clean) house with no one to ring her chimes (so to speak) and nothing to do except contemplate all those damned eggs in the refrigerator. And she’s upset about it. Next.
(Cry, cry, no more laughter)
Oh, I should be happy (Oh, why did he go)
I only know that since he left my lifeâ€™s so empty
No more laughter, eh? Oh yeah, that relationship sounds like it musta been an absolute howl. OK, here’s the song’s middle eight:
…Though I try to forget, it just canâ€™t be done
Each time the doorbell rings I still run
I donâ€™t know how in the world to stop thinking of him
â€˜Cause I still love him so
I end each day the way I start out, crying my heart out…
A question: how often does your doorbell ring? Once, twice a week if you’re lucky? If you really think about it, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless the chick’s living on some traveling salesman’s equivalent of Boston’s Green Line. So what we have here, basically, is a totally distraught woman, crying when she wakes up, crying throughout the day, running to get the door in the pathetic hope that dude shows up hungry for eggs, and crying herself to sleep each night. Maybe it’s just me, but that don’t sound like much on an existence. Can you say, t-h-e-r-a-p-y? Let’s continue.
…Oh, one less man to pick up after
No more laughter, no more love
Since he went, oh, he went away.
(One less bell to answer) Why did he leave me?
Oh, why, why did he leave?
I think that question has already been answered, don’t you?
Now Iâ€™ve got one less egg to fry,
One less egg to fry,
And all I do is cry!
Because a man told me goodbye.
Enough with the eggs already! Make an omelet, for Gawdsakes!
Somebody tell me please –
Where did he go?
Why did he go?
Tell me, how could he leave me?
(A word about songwriting here. This is one of the most Gawdawful, tired cliches you’ll find in pop music – the distraught protagonist telling anyone who’ll listen that the one they loved is gone; now they’re pleading for any information as to where they might be. It’s pretty pathetic. Paul Anka did ["Donna"], the Chi-Lites ["Have You Seen Her?" - a good tune, BTW], heck, even Gordon Lightfoot ["On The High Seas"] have succumbed to this.)
In this case, the woman seems to have now taken to the streets to ask anyone she encounters where her man has gone, and why he left her. The first is a legitimate question – that is, when your talking about cats, dogs, snakes, rabbits, hamsters, etc., NOT a great thing when you’re talking about someone you used to fry eggs for and pick up after. What do you do, you hang notices on mailboxes, trees, and light posts, right? Now the second question, of course, is a whole ‘nuther thing entirely. I mean, what does she expect total strangers to tell her? How the heck are they supposed to know why some guy left her? This makes absolutely no sense to me – much like this song.
So there you have it. Bottom line here – the woman is nuts, which is why the guy probably never asked her for a key to begin with, and dude only came over when he was hungry for breakfast (and whatever else was on the menu, if you know what I mean…).
Hopefully, this post will take care of this dumb song rattling around in my brain and allow me to get on with the rest of my life, starting with breakfast tomorrow…