Sunday, March 14, 2004

mind the windmills

I was idly following a link to Dusty at Apothecary's Drawer and within this review of Dusty in Memphis noticed the assessment of that jingly simile-laden windmills song

But Springfield's version is still a remarkably bizarre song.
"The Windmills of Your Mind" is too crazy to be anything but a piece of its crazy time, and it is almost airily psychotic: "Is the jingle in your pocket/Or is the jingle in your head?" A question like that made a lot of sense in 1968.

A view that is shared here:
Springfield even makes the cod psychedelic inanities of Michel Legrand's 'The Windmills of Your Mind" seem almost meaningful.

On the other hand - maybe they just missed the eros?
And there was a pronounced undercurrent of erotically flavored pop fatalism, typified by "Windmills of Your Mind" with its spirals within circles(source)

Like that other oblique sixties hit A Whiter Shade of Pale, attempts to unravel the mystery of the similes within the similes can seem a bit silly. This is explained in a simple manner here:

'The Windmills Of Your Mind' also illustrates the difference between simile and metaphor, for the title phrase is itself a metaphor rather than a simile. Nothing is being explicitly compared to a windmill: rather, the mind is being described as if it actually had windmills in it. In literal terms this is obviously nonsensical and wrong, for there are no windmills in anyone's mind. In the same way as a simile, however, the metaphor connotes a set of images or concepts that no literal description could do.
(Simile And Metaphor In Pop Lyrics)

and explained in a more philosphical manner here:
The fact is that, as the philosopher William James put it, "it is natural and even usual to human nature to court the arduous". And so it is. We like difficult stuff. Not too difficult so as to get frustrating of course,but who would want to bother with a jigsaw which only had two pieces?

and contemplating windmills may lead to greater things:

If you are entranced by 'Windmills of your Mind', may I suggest a little philosophical journey? Have you read The Tao Te Ching of Lao-Tze(I recommend the James Legge translation), or The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam? You might try Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra or flick through Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.Sit back and enjoy them, but don't necessarily expect them to 'mean' anything. They're not always meant to make sense, they're meant to make you make your own sense

But if you like your metaphors made literal, you can buy this little windmill and listen as the blades of the mill turn to the hauntingly beautiful tune

And as you look at Nebraksa windmills you can hear Dusty's version of "the greatest hangover song ever written, in case you're ever in need".

The lyricists talk about the song in this interview:

Norman Jewison, the director, wanted a song that exposed no character, that didn't tell any plot -- he just wanted the restlessness and uneasiness of the character underlined. Michel wrote six or seven full melodies, and when we work with him, we write to his melodies, because even though he expresses himself perfectly in English, his French accent is such that things can come out sounding a little like calypso songs! He played us these wonderful melodies, and we agreed to sleep on it. The next morning all three of us had independently chosen this oddball melody, almost baroque in feel. It was the opposite of what we had thought we would have chosen the night before.
AB: I think we chose it because it's kind of a ribbon, a circular melody that reflected the flight of a glider very well.
MB: And it reminded us of those moments when you're trying to fall asleep and you can't turn your mind off. Anxiety is circular, actually.
Alan and Marilyn Bergman on Songwriting

This makes sense to boynton, who is quite happy to run with the wheel within a wheel restlessness of meaning, and especially if Dusty is clarifying it

Comments: mind the windmills

I only know the song from Vanilla Fudge's version of it. Damn but it's an odd little number.
Posted by James Russell at March 14, 2004 05:33 PM

'Tis odd indeedy.
But you gotta listen to Dusty, James. And you can at that Nebraska link if you scroll down to the ram.
Posted by boynton at March 14, 2004 05:56 PM

...keys that jingle in your pocket
words that jangle in your head
why did summer go so quickly?
was it something that you said?
Posted by Nora at March 14, 2004 10:15 PM

It wasn't me, I never.

And I didn't throw no pebble in the stream neither...
Posted by boynton at March 14, 2004 10:26 PM

I personally favour the Muppets version (although it's been many years since I last saw it).
Posted by mcb at March 15, 2004 12:02 PM

Alas - I never saw it - but a bit of googling suggests that it may indeed be the perfect rendition for the nutty-bizarre school of WOYM thought, mcb.

described here
"Did you ever see the scene from the Muppet Show with a bird singing "The Windmills of Your Mind"? The bird/creature--you never know with Muppets--has three legs arranged like a three-spoked wheel. It runs faster and faster as it sings, impressing me with the voice actor's ability to enunciate clearly while singing so fast. At the end, the creature crashes into something. For some reason, every time I look at this chapter, I think of that scene..."

And a pic of the bird/creature is here.
Posted by boynton at March 15, 2004 12:16 PM

The Muppets did a lot of songs better! Like Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth'... "stop, children, what's that sound / Everybody look what's going down..."

Altho' Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66 had a good crack at it too.
Posted by nardo at March 15, 2004 03:09 PM

Missed the Muppets doing that one too.

But your reference to Sergio got me googlin'
(having thought I was something of a fan)
- and posting the results...
Posted by boynton at March 15, 2004 04:54 PM

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