Writer’s Workshop: Betcha Can’t Pick Just One!

I started the 1970’s in eighth grade and ended them with a college degree, married, and on my fourth job already. There was a lot going on in my life, and a lot going on in the rest of the world.

Naturally, music played a huge part of my life back then, and I listened to a lot of genres. Blues became my one true love in my senior year of high school, but before that, and even during that, I listened to a lot of Top 40 radio. In Chicago, we had WLS and WCFL on the AM dial, and I spent a lot of time switching back and forth between them so I could hear as much as possible.

Two songs in particular stand out. The first was from 1972, the band was The Looking Glass, and the song was "Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)."

(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda)

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down
They say “Brandy, fetch another round”
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of a man that Brandy loved

He came on a summer’s day
Bringin’ gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home

The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor’s story
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
She saw its ragin’ glory
But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”

Source: AZLyrics

Everybody I talk to, who remembers this song, seems to like it. Why? Could be the music, the eternal "it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to." I think it’s the lyrics: they tell the compelling story of a barmaid who’s in love with a patron, a man of the sea, who gave her a locket once and who enthralled her with stories of his days on the bounding main. She hasn’t seen him since, and we don’t know if they made love, whether there’s a child involved, or even how long ago she had seen him. Maybe two weeks, two months, two years, even two decades. But she’s waiting for him to return. Will he? Probably not. He probably forgot her as soon as they parted company. Maybe he did plan on coming back, but was lost at sea.

The romantic in me has Brandy with long, flowing hair the color of whiskey, eyes the color of emeralds, a body that’s every man’s fantasy of a bar wench, in full skirts and a ruffled blouse that displays plenty of cleavage. The realist tells me otherwise… but it’s still a great story, and a great song.

The other song is from 1976, and okay, I was in college, but still living at home. The band is Starbuck, and the song is "Moonlight Feels Right."

The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
You winked and gave me your o.k.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
The moon will send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
Cause southern belles are hell at night
You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
Class of seven four gold ring
The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
To make the tide rise again

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning
And watch it fade the moon away
I guess you know I’m giving you a warning
Cause me and moon are itching to play
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon will send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right …

Source: Lyrics.com

This is a song where I just kind of get into a groove when I hear it. I sway back and forth and just get into it. The lyrics are kind of Steely Dan-like: the story of a roguish older man picking up a younger woman intent on a night of romance with her. Does he get what he wants? We don’t know, although the signs point to "yes." We know they took a ride out to Chesapeake Bay and sat in the car with the top down, looking at the moon and the stars on what sounds like a perfect night. Will there be another such night? He warns her that there might just be, that he might just seduce her again…

Are these still favorites? After 50 years, you’d better believe it…

29 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Betcha Can’t Pick Just One!

  1. I love both of these songs, as well. Brandy was such an intriguing song letting the listeners run with their imagination. I picture Brandy as you describe.

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  2. I gained much appreciation for the song “Brandy” when I began dating my now husband (22 years ago). Being in a relationship with a sailor is not easy – takes a lot of love, work and commitment on the part of both people. When I met my husband he was twice divorced and blamed both divorces on his job. He said he would never marry again. We were together for 7 years before we married.

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