Clash of Concepts

November 27 – Cool

OK, be realistic. You had to expect when you saw today’s word that I would bring this up. This is probably the last time during this month’s project that I will write on this subject—since we’re this close to the end, I can be pretty confident of that statement.

Here goes “Cool”:

My mom had a favorite song.

Many nights when I was growing up, I watched Mom and my aunt—and sometimes Mom by herself—dance to “Long Cool Woman” by The Hollies.

Mom was a phenomenal dancer—I loved watching the carefree way she moved to the beat. Sometimes she danced the Jitterbug, sometimes freestyle, always beautiful.

She danced to the song the night before she died, and we danced to it at her funeral.

I never asked Mom why she liked the song so much. I always presumed it was the funky beat. I never thought much about the lyrics until I started to write this and make my own connections between the song and her life.

Saturday night I was down town
Working for the F.B.I.
Sitting in a nest of bad men
Whiskey bottles piling high

The closest Mom ever came to being in trouble with the law—that I know of—was one night in her youth when she and her sister-in-law got drunk and passed out in their car in front of the police station. The next morning, they hurried home before anyone noticed.

But years later, Mom did have a drinking problem. I was already away at college and my sister and brother were nearly grown. Mom could put away a fifth of Bacardi’s 151-proof rum every other night. She did that for years until one unfortunate night when she passed out and couldn’t help someone in need.

She stopped that very day and didn’t pick it up again. Her willpower was admirable. She did the same with cigarettes after smoking for most of her life.

Boot legging boozer on the west side
Full of people who are doing wrong
Just about to call up the D.A. man
When I heard this woman singing a song.
A pair of forty fives made me open my eyes
My temperature started to rise
She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a five nine
Beautiful
Tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
Cause that long cool woman had it all.

Not everyone knows this about my mom, but she sang when I was young. My uncle—her brother-in-law—had a gospel band and she would sometimes sing with them. My favorite song she sang was “Where the Roses Never Fade.” We played it at her funeral.

Music was always important when I was growing up. Mom and Dad introduced me to the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s—which I love—and I introduced them to the music of the ’80s and the birth of MTV.

My parents embraced my music. Mom would wait up with me and watch “Friday Night Videos,” getting as excited as I about new releases, and even Dad said the only way to listen to Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” was loud.

Well the D.A. was pumping my left hand
And a she a holding my right
And I told her don’t get scared
Cause you’re gonna be spared
I gotta be forgiven
If I want to spend my living with
A long cool woman in a black dress

When I read this verse, I think of my parents and their great love story. They made a decision, ran away and got married, and then made their lives happen.

Together.

For almost 49 years.

With just one look I was a bad mess
‘Cause that long cool woman had it all

To me, my mom was always the long cool woman… ’cause she had it all.

(Lyrics: Alan Clarke, Roger Frederick Cook, Roger John Reginald Greenaway; Performed: The Hollies)

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