04 August 2006

the beach boys - "the little girl i once knew" (from the today! / summer days (and summer nights!!) lp, available for purchase here.)

my life is filled w/ unlikely confluences.

i was reflecting on a girl i know today and w/ some sadness the phrase "she's not the little girl i once knew" came to mind. i thought of the beach boys song of the same name, the last single they released before pet sounds--or maybe it was the other way around, i thought of the song & then i thought of her. the order, as we shall see, is no trivial matter.

i had just the other day asked her if she owned a copy of pet sounds. no reply. the beach boys are my favorite band, as some of you know; i own about three copies of the album & could part w/ one. i thought to ask her b/c so many of her favorite artists & bands use the template set out forty years ago by brian wilson; but it came to my attention b/c earlier in the day i had been reading about another reissue of pet sounds on nme.com, this time for, yes, that fortieth anniversary.

"caroline, no" is the song that ends pet sounds. it's all about a little girl brian wilson once knew whom he realizes isn't the little girl he once knew--he even asks, "where is the girl i used to know?" BUT. "the little girl i once knew" isn't about that theme at all; i was stunned to realize that i'd long misunderstood a song by one of my favorite bands. so why not post "caroline, no"? b/c you all know "caroline, no." & i thought it more interesting to let my misapprehension stand, b/c i realize that it's not the only thing i've misunderstood recently.

let's pause for a moment & summarize. so far we have 1) reading about pet sounds reissue 2) asking if she had a copy of the album 3) no reply, which should have given me a hint about the direction the wind was blowing 4) my reflection today that she's not "the little girl i once knew," which was the single that preceded pet sounds. which takes us back to ...

i was saying, it's not the only thing i've misunderstood recently, or even today for that matter. i was thinking of a poem, theodore roethke's "i knew a woman," which is not so dissimilar in title to "the little girl i once knew," which is one of my favorite love poems, which is a poem that often called this girl i know--or knew--to mind. (it's a beautiful poem : read it here.) but today i was struck when i realized that the poem was written in the past tense--yes, yes, says the adjunct professor of english, i know, it's something any close reading of the poem should have yielded. but what happened to this woman? did she die, à la roethke's own "elegy for jane"? did it happen one day that he realized that her loveliness was merely in her bones, not expressed anywhere else? that her beauty was not skin-deep but bone-deep? &, really, what was the good in that, unless you had an x-ray machine? i'd written something about bones in an email to this girl the other day : was i thinking of the poem or did my writing about bones make me read the poem today?

so, order, then. in "the little girl i once knew," brian reflects how there was this girl whom he had no eyes for, but w/ the passage of time, he developed interest, leading to the declaration in the chorus. "the little girl i once knew" is, essentially, "caroline, no" in reverse (but remember "caroline, no" was written later--or ... ?) & if you reverse "the little girl i once knew," one gets v. near my estimation of the v. girl i've been discussing in this entry.

it also gets v. near this girl b/c it occurred to me today that she does things in reverse, that whether she's familiar w/ the term, she utilizes backward induction frequently. what is backward induction? it's like taking a quiz on the internet & knowing what you want the result to be & then making it so by answering the questions in such a fashion to get the result you want. i'd sometimes ask her a question & she'd know why i was asking it & what result i wanted & she'd be contrary & give another answer & then have to work backward to support her claim. it's sort of like her behavior to me recently : she treats me as if i've done something wrong to her (when i haven't) & then i act in such a way that would give her reason to feel that way--if she hadn't already made up her mind to treat me as if i had, &c.

order matters, is what i'm trying to say, & sometimes we're surprised & confounded by the order of things. as i said earlier, the song & the poem aren't the only things i've misunderstood lately, as i realized earlier today. but i've got to attempt to establish order where i can. given my standing, i'm in no position to give ultimatums or, well, orders to her; i can however order my own life, get my own balloon off the ground. & if one wishes to come along, well, you're well, you're welcome--but not as things stand now. there was a time when i measured time by how a body sways, but now i find myself singing these lines--yes, from "caroline, no"--instead:
could i ever find in you again,
things that made me love you so much then,
could we ever bring 'em back once they have gone
oh, caroline, maybe?

1 comment:

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