Thursday, October 4, 2007
It's Just Not Right
The meanest pop sing of all time has to be the sprightly "I Saw Her Again," by the Mamas and the Papas. Never before or since has one man so forthrightly admitted to using a woman:
I'm in way over my head
Now she thinks that I love her
Because that's what I said
Though I never think of her
That's heartless enough, but the circumstances surrounding the song make it positively sadistic. Papa John Phillips wrote this song shortly after he discovered that his bandmate Denny Doherty had started canoodling with his wife and bandmate Michelle Phillips. He kicked Michelle out of their house, but that's really nothing compared to making Denny sing this song, in which he declares that he's lying to the woman he's running around with, making him confess that to string her along's just not right.
And out of all this hatred and revenge, the group managed to fashion a gorgeous, joyous pop song, full of swirling harmonies. There's a legend that has grown up around this song, that Denny's re-entrance into the chorus a bar before the rest of the group ("I saw her --- I saw her again last night....") was a botch, because Paul McCartney supposedly said, "That has to be a mistake: nobody's that clever." I have yet to find out if a Mama or Papa ever concurred with that sentiment, though.
This kind of thing was old hat for Papa John, though. This is the same man who made Cass Elliot sing the line "No one's getting fat, except for Mama Cass."