Still falling short of close enough... Wodnesdæg is here again. Today is also, coincidentally, May 15, which is in some traditions the final day under the influence of the Eisheligan, the "Ice Saints," dedicated to Saint Sophia or Cold Sophie. One last blast of frost before seedlings can be planted safely, is the idea. The San Francisco Bay Area isn't known for its frost, of course, but I've seen news of an impending Weather Event, wherein an entire winter's worth of rain, however much that is, is scheduled to come down from the Heavens on this single day. That seems likely to be an exaggeration, but I'll be watching for spectacular scenes of inundation and preparing to move the records, books, and guitars to higher ground, so to speak, if the deluge creeps past the threshold. It will likely be an anti-climax, though, like most things. Like, The Drought, for instance. But I digress. Song for Odin™, Song for Sophie, Song for the Cancelled Drought begins now. And what we have here is "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be", live in Genoa, Italy, October 1996. The song is from the Love Is Dead album, which came out in January of that year. I don't remember playing this particular song all that often and this is in fact the only video documentation I've seen of it. It's a song a lot of people seem to like, but it's not spectacularly distinguished in any particular way. It works through its conceit in an unceremonious, efficient manner without pausing to do anything interestingly weird. (Though the dual bridge, to be sure, is just a *bit* weird.) It's funny how we sensitive, narcissistic, fragile-ego'd artistic types tend to take even mild criticism so much to heart. Writers never ever forget or forgive a mean review, not ever. If you give someone a negative review you are making an enemy for life. This is a truism. I'd never admit it, other than the fact that I guess I'm sort of admitting it now, but there was some review somewhere at the time dismissing the Love Is Dead album as just more generic "nyah nyah everything sucks" banality (paraphrasing here), citing this song as a characteristic example. It may just have been in a zine put together by an eighth-grader, but of course it irked me as only a precious, self-regarding songwriter can be irked. And I'm not at all sure that's not why I've always felt a little down on this song. Generic banality, good Lord. I shy away from such. I have been known to describe the song as "not my finest hour." To which fans of it have objected strenuously, bless their / your hearts. However, considering it now for the first time in awhile, well, it ain't perfect but it's not half bad. The title and chorus is a paradoxical apophthegm usually attributed to Yogi Berra. (I certainly thought of it as a "Yogi-ism" at the time, though now the internet tells me it's got a longer, more complicated history.) The song's program is quite simple: the narrator takes the conventional supposed malapropism literally, comparing the love-gone-wrong future with what might have been. There are some good lines, some good rhymes, and nothing particularly awkward, plus some interesting melody-cum-chord variations slightly off from the conventional (the occasional flatted I and IV chord, mainly.). It sticks relentlessly to the conceit, which doesn't seem so difficult to do till you actually try it: when songs go awry, it is most often from straying from this focus, which this song doesn't do. Solid B, maybe even a B+ if I'm being generous. Or am I kidding myself? It contains the only lyric on the album that alludes to the title, which makes it a bit more prominent than it might otherwise have been. I'm not the first or only guy to try to turn "the future ain't what it used to be" into a song by any means of course. This is just the way I did it. Of course very, very few of those mostly teenaged fans who dug this record when it came out were aware of Yogi Berra or the title qua well-known epigram. They mostly thought I made it up all by myself. And every so often I'll hear from someone who, much later in life, stumbled on to and was taken aback by the "source material." Not just with this song, it's a fairly regular phenom. Sometimes it's an appreciated "aha" moment for them, and they are charmed by it; sometimes they're kind of mad, like I pulled a fast one at their expense. Why didn't you *tell* me it was from Yogi Berra? Well, I don't know, that's not how I write songs. The song wouldn't have been better if I had inserted "as Yogi said" before the choruses. That would just have made it more confusing, really. It's not about Yogi Berra. It's about the guy lamenting his incipient loveless destiny. So there it is. If you always hated this song, I hope, like me, that you hate it just a little bit less now. If you feel betrayed by the unattributed pseudo-Yogi appropriation, I don't know what to tell you. It's too late to do anything about it now. notes: original recording: Quote Investigator: #music #songs #video #minds