Friday, July 10, 2015

Mitch Miller and the Gang – "Sweet Violets" (1958)

There once was a farmer who took a young miss
In back of the barn where he gave her a lecture

The first two lines of "Sweet Violets" (which are quoted above) include an excellent example of what we English majors call a "mind rhyme."

A mind rhyme isn't really a rhyme at all.  A mind rhyme creates a strong expectation of a rhyme in the mind of the listener, then pulls the rug out from under the listener's feet by delivering something quite different. 

For example, you assume the farmer who took the young miss behind the barn is going to give her a kiss, and you're surprised when he instead gives her a lecture (which doesn't rhyme with "miss").

"Sweet Violets" was a big hit for Dinah Shore in 1951.  Mitch Miller and the Gang recorded it several years later.

My parents owned a Mitch Miller LP that included "Sweet Violets," which I listened to over and over when I was a young lad.  I now have that album on my iPod, and I was listening to it while walking the Wildcat Glades trails in Joplin, Missouri, a couple of weeks ago.

Wildcat Glades wildflowers
It was the day after my 45th high-school reunion, and I was in a pensive mood for two reasons.  

First, you can't help but be very conscious of how quickly your life is passing when you attend such an event – for my classmates and me, the leaves on the ground far outnumber those that remain on the tree.

Second, I told an old friend some things that I wish I had said a long time ago.  In retrospect, I'm not sure that it was a good idea to have done that – maybe I should have let sleeping dogs lie instead of daring to disturb the universe.

Of course, it's hard to stay pensive when you're listening to (and singing along with) "Sweet Violets."  But that song lasts less than three minutes.  

After a brief interlude as one of Mitch Miller's merry gang of gentlemen songsters, I turned back into a latter-day J. Alfred Prufrock for the remainder of my walk. 

I had more than enough time for a hundred indecisions about the previous night's conversation before I got back to my car.  (Like Prufrock, I'm really, really good at making indecisions.)

By the way, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry magazine.  Happy belated 100th birthday to you, J. Alfred!

Here's "Sweet Violets":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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