Friday, 17 August 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Red Riding Hood (The Big Bopper, 1958)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

Last week we looked at a rather sensual version of Little Red Riding Hood, this week a slightly sillier version that upon close examination has some darker overtones. .
Image result for the big bopper
Jiles Perry (JP) Richardson is the real name of The Big Bopper. In case you don't know, he was part of "the day the music died" plane crash that killed him, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. His most famous song was probably Chantilly Lace. We had that song on an album when I was a child and I spent many hours lip-syncing it in front of a mirror due to its conversational lyrics. If I had known this song as a child, I am sure I would have been lip-syncing it too.

This song is a weird hybrid of Red Riding Hood and the Three Pigs. Clearly, they are the same wolf in both tales. The Big Bopper Wolf knows the Three Pigs who "flipped their wigs" when they saw Little Red because she's the "swingin'ist and that's no lie." The wolf is hammering on her door trying to get her to let him come in before Granma comes back. In the absence of a parental figure they can "have a ball" and "shake the shack." And if she won't let him in, he'll blow the house down.

To be honest, he comes across as quite the sex pest.

In 1958 the slight double entendres would have been seen as funny, but these days perhaps not so much. The implied threats of violence, the coercion to let him in while her (grand) parent is out, the not taking no for an answer and the description of how "hot" he finds her don't sit well with me these days.

And yet, as a child i would have loved it.

The lyrics that really struck me were these:

Now let me in now, honey
I just wanna talk to ya
You know you're lonesome in there by yourself
So, put the key in the door
And go tick-a-locka, tick-a-lock
And let me in now, honey

It reminds me very much of the eerie short story WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates which was made into a film starring Laura Dern called Smooth Talk. Basically, the young woman Connie is just exploring her sexuality and her effect on the opposite sex. She chafes under the strict rules of her house and the comparisons to her good girl older sister. One weekend she is left alone in her house while her family goes to a BBQ and an older man named Arnold Friend comes round and speaks to her through the screen door. Connie is alternately frightened and intrigued by him.Arnold Friend relentlessly pursues her with this same sort of persuasive smooth talk, pressure and threats of violence until he convinces her to leave with him where she will undoubtedly be raped and possibly murdered. (It is said that the character of Arnold Friend is based on serial killer Charles Schmid.)

In the song it it hilarious, but if it happened in real life it would not be so funny. 

Interestingly, I find last week's song more acceptable than this one. I am not sure why. Both feature a predator, clearly hiding his true nature, with only one thing in mind. Last week's version has a real sensual feel (as I said before, it sounds like music you could do a strip tease to.) This week's version has a fun feel that makes you want to dance and join in with the nonsense scat sort refrain of A-bing-bang-biddle-dee-bang, baby let me in. 

Listen to it here:

Stay tuned next week where explore Little Red Riding Hood in animated form.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely rapey. Not as bad as “Baby it’s cold outside,” though, which has an explicit reference to BEING ROOFIED.

    Listen, ladies: do not let people who bang on your door and threaten to blow your house down inside. Crack the door open and shoot wasp spray in their face. Aim for the eyes.