Monday Night Special #10: Delving in with Diagrams (to Mercury Blues)

22 Oct

My blog is all about Lincoln thoughts together, so I chose not to Dodge this particular song when I couldn’t quit thinking about it the other morning.  With great tenacity (I had to, more than once, tell my Datsun pup to get off the keyboard), I Forded the river of lyrics and came upon an island of diagrammableness.  Though my analysis may seem rather Jeep and none too Smart–I’m no Scion of class and wit, after all–I decided to do it anyway.

Also, Chrysler?  I don’t even know ‘er!

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

“Mercury Blues” by Alan Jackson

Quick Synopsis:

Our narrator loves Mercuries and wants to spend all his money and time on them.  The first verse chronicles how he “stole” a woman from his friend, but the friend stole her back with the lure of a Mercury.  The second verse finds our narrator hitting on a woman driving a Mercury.  In the third verse, our narrator’s girlfriend leaves him, buys a Mercury, and comes back to him.

Important Quotation:

Well, if I had money, tell you what I’d do:
I’d go downtown and buy a Mercury or two.

Our narrator begins the song with this bold statement (and repeats it a few times throughout).  The very first thing he would do with enough money is buy a Mercury.  He doesn’t specify that he would buy a Cougar or a Mountaineer or a Grand Marquis:  Any Mercury is a good Mercury according to our narrator.

He goes on to claim he’s “crazy ’bout a Mercury” and that he wishes to “cruise it up and down the road.”  We can assume he loves Mercuries because they cruise well–this could mean they are attractive and run smoothly.  However, we can also assume his motivation stems not from his own love of Mercuries’ superb craftsmanship but his lady’s predilection for the car make.

The rest of the song documents his on-again-off-again relationship with his lady friend–which is where the “blues” part of the song asserts itself, I suppose, although I haven’t analyzed the chord structure.  This shows his own love for Mercury’s may really have more to do with pleasing a woman.  And if this woman goes with any man who can provide the correct automobile, this suggests she’s materialistic and, well, a golddigger of sorts.

Our important quotation shows our narrator is willing to use all money to buy not one but two of these choice vehicles to attract a woman and seems to buy into her obsession.  He seems to lose control of his own agency and become this femme fatale’s Mercury-loving pawn.

Alternately, the narrator may be projecting his own love of Mercuries on the woman.  He claims the woman left because she heard another man had a Mercury.  This casts doubt on the narrator’s reliability.  A rumor of a Mercury is enough to entice a woman to leave?  Perhaps this is just a story the narrator’s spinning.

With this interpretation in mind, when we look back at our important quotation, we see that is highly improbable/unreasonable/suspect to buy two of the same car in one buying session.  Perhaps this is not just the narrator employing idioms but an actual statement of what he would actually do, which would indicate perhaps a mental and emotional imbalance.

Everything, then, is colored by this man’s irrational, obsessive attachment to Mercuries.



Thoughts on Structure:

As always, I just want to roll around in the wonder of colloquial speech.  We use all these complex things without even thinking about it, and it’s so glorious to take it apart and look at all of it.

We begin with an interjection, which draws us immediately into the narrator’s world, as if we’d been having a conversation with this dude all along.  This intimacy continues when he tells us what he’d do.  The first independent clause omits the subject, lending more intimacy and informality.   Also lending informality is the tense/mood of the verb tell:  The rest of the sentence is totally conditional; however, tell is just regular present declarative.  Whether he has the money or not, he’s gonna tell us all about it.

The second independent clause contains a compound verb: would go and would buy.  They both use the same contraction as their respective auxiliary.  This construction happens all the time in regular speech and shows an economy of word and thought.  Going downtown and buying Mercuries both would happen in equal measure if the narrator had money, so why not use the same auxiliary?

Final Thoughts:

Really kind of a depressing song, if you think about it:  golddiggers and shared obsession and possible psychosis and all that.  I guess that’s why they call it the blues.

I’m a Chevy girl, myself.

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