The Locket Bears Only a Name

Then there was THAT SONG, the ultimate story-song.

Every time it came on the radio, I was riveted, like a kid listening to a storyteller around a campfire.

It was simple, yet mysterious.

Looking Glass, a rock outfit from New Jersey, produced a one-hit wonder in 1972 titled “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” It was on the radio constantly.

“Brandy” is actually a three-act wonder—beginning, middle (transition or bridge), and end. There’s that loopy guitar intro, electric piano, then brass building with backing vocals and—BOOM—cue story.

Shivers every time.

Beginning: The place; the people; the problem. Harbor town, sailors come in, sailors go out, like the tide. They have one thing in common: a home they hope to return to. While they’re in this harbor town they stop off for drinks at this gastropub where drop-dead gorgeous Brandy works, you know, the babe whose eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.

Yeah, her.

So, these homesick non-homeboys say, “Hey Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be!” Brandy’s heard this shit before. Her mind is elsewhere. We don’t know that yet.

That’s why this is a story and it’s unfolding before our very ears.

Act II: Brandy wears a braided chain, best silver, no knock-off stuff. On the chain is a locket that bears a name. No picture, just a name. The thing she loves more than anything else in the world: one sailor.

While all the other sailors couldn’t wait to get home, this Jacky Tar didn’t care. He couldn’t make a home, at this harbor or any other. He had to be out roaming the Big Briny. I mean, he talked to her about it All The Time.

He gives Brandy the locket. In all likelihood she puts his name in it, since she doesn’t have a picture. He even tells her what the other lads told her, “Brandy, you’re a—”

Well, you get the picture.

But then we hit the transition in the bridge: an evocation of memory and desire, the burning point of the story-song. We see them together, maybe in the port bar, maybe somewhere later after they made love. Or maybe they didn’t. We don’t know.

It doesn’t matter: her love is not with him, but his story. Searching his eyes as he tells it, she feels the ocean’s fall and rise, sees its raging glory.

It’s no longer just a story, it’s a shared experience.

By the way, I went through a period of revulsion with the song because I assumed it was sexist. So the sailors want to “own” Brandy, domesticate her, make her settle down like a good little wife.

Then I realized you could easily reverse the roles.

What if the song were “Randy (You’re a Fine Guy)”? Still could be a harbor town, but the sailors are now lonely women. Randy works in the bar, layin’ whiskey down. His patrons tell him, “Dude, you’re a fine guy. You’d make a swell husband.”

But Randy has his heart set on one woman only, despite the fact she has told him time and time again she can’t stay in that harbor town.

In the end, both Randy/Brandy converge, two separate, isolated, love-haunted ghosts walking the streets after closing time.

And that’s what this is. A story told in a song then sung as a story then told as a story in a blog.

Wild, huh?

Yeah, I’m dizzy, too.

But happy as hell.

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~ by completelyinthedark on November 5, 2011.

4 Responses to “The Locket Bears Only a Name”

  1. It’s the same old story: the lady wants what she can’t have. A most annoying song. Seemed as tho it was the only song played on the radio during the summer of 1972. Lyrically it might have had Brechtian aspirations, but the performance falls far short of that ideal. It was a big hit for Looking Glass, but the bubblegum crowd was disappointed by the group’s otherwise hard rockin’ style. “dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda” -FHW

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, Rick, it’s also the same old story that ANYONE can’t always get what they want—but if they try, they sometimes get what they need 😉

    Still, I’m a story hound and this one’s got the chops. Hell, the song could’ve been “Lassie (You’re A Fine Dog) … what a good pet you would be…” and I’d still think it was a great story-song.

    Like

  3. It’s a nice blog you have over here! It’s very usefull information for me and I just want to thank you for that! If you post more threads as this one, I’ll follow your blog active!

    Liked by 1 person

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