Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How did two rights make a wrong?


I posted this a few days ago on the LJ and got no response...so I figured what the hell, I'll post it here and see if anyone reacts.

I have no answer for you little lamb
I can help you out
But I cannot help you in

Sometimes you think that life is hard
And this is only one of them

My Heart is breaking for you little lamb
I can help you out
But we may never meet again

La La La La La La La La

Dragonfly fly by my window
You and I still have a way to go
Don't know why you hang around my door
I don't live here any more

Since you've gone I never know
I go on, but I miss you so

Dragonfly don't keep me waiting
When we try, we'll have a way to go

Dragonfly, you've been away too long
How did two rights make a wrong

Since you've gone I never know
I go on but I miss you so
In my heart I feel the pain
Keeps coming back again

Dragonfly fly by my window
(I'm flying can't you see me I'm flying)
You and I can find a way to see

Dragonfly, the years ahead will show
How little we really know

Since you've gone its never right
They go on the lonely nights,
Come on home and make it right

My heart is aching for you little lamb
I can help you out
But I cannot help you in

La La La La La La La La (repeat)

_____________________________________________

These are the lyrics to the song "Little Lamb Dragonfly", from Paul McCartney's 1973 effort Red Rose Speedway. Speedway isn't one of Paulie's stronger efforts, sorry to say, although I do find myself enjoying its modest charms from time to time.

The official story of "Dragonfly", a melodically lovely if somewhat precociously arranged track that concludes side one of the vinyl LP, is that Macca was inspired to write it after the death of a sheep on his farm. OK, fair enough- but I was listening to this cut for probably the 5,000th time this afternoon when it struck me that this song could be interpreted as a reconciliatory mash note to his former Beatle associate John Lennon, and/or the "Beatles" as an entity.

From what I gather, this song was written sometime in 1970 or '71 and recorded during the sessions for his Ram album of that same year. It's been documented that the year or two immediately following the breakup of the Beatles was not a particularly happy time for Paul- I've read that he said he felt unhappy, adrift and directionless, and seeing how he was always the most driven of the Four, this is understandable. Relationships with his erstwhile bandmates were strained as a result of all the personal and legal bullshit, and none more so than with Lennon. In fact, John was publicly angry about what he perceived as attacks and comments of a personal nature, in the form of Ram tracks like "Dear Boy" and "Too Many People", with its "Too many people/preaching practices/don't let them tell you what you want to be" line. This led to a lot of spatting, mostly in the form of angry letters in music publications and barely concealed song lyrics, a la John's vitriolic "How Do You Sleep".

However, if my suspicions are true, "Dragonfly" is a lot more wistful and heartfelt. Paul is seeming to take on the persona of the "lamb" in this song, singing reassuring words to himself, reminiscent of "Hey Jude". John could be seen as the "dragonfly", reflective of his caustic nature, and in a more general sense the collective "Beatles" could be represented by the insect's fleeting, darting nature. As with the "and though they will be parted, there is still a chance that they will see" line from "Let it Be", verses like

Dragonfly fly by my window
(I'm flying can't you see me I'm flying)
You and I can find a way to see

Dragonfly, the years ahead will show
How little we really know


Since you've gone I never know
I go on but I miss you so
In my heart I feel the pain
Keeps coming back again


certainly seem to me to express similar sentiments.

And in this fashion, a modest, mostly overlooked track from one of McCartney's more dismissed releases, if I'm correct in my theory, is suddenly transformed into a low-budget "Let it Be" for the solo years, taking on a whole new gravity and dimension in my ears and head. And yes, through its forlorn sentiment, my heart as well.

What do you think? Am I totally off base here?

1 comment:

Julia said...

I don't think you're off base at all, it makes perfectly sense. I never really thought that, but it totally makes sense. Guess I'll listen to the song again!