Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Question for the Savy Reader

Margaret Mead reading.

From Richard Wheeler

I am wondering whether your savvy readers could answer something that's bugged me for about fifty years. The lyrics of Frank Sinatra's great song, South of the Border, are a total mystery. Who jilted whom? Or did anyone jilt anyone? And what was the sequence of events? Just when I think I have it figured out, something doesn't work.

I thought this might be an entertainment for you.
Here are the lyrics:

"South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way)"

South of the border, down Mexico way.
That's where I fell in love where stars above, came out to play.
And now as I wonder, my thoughts ever stray.
South of the border, down Mexico way.

She was a picture, in old spanish ways.
Just for a tender while I kissed the smile, upon her face.
For it was fiesta, and love had it's day.
South of the border, down Mexico way.

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay)
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay)

Then she sighed as she whispered manyana, never dreaming that we were parting.
And I lied as I whispered manyana, for our tomorrow never came.

South of the border, I rode back one day.
There in a veil of white by candlelight, she kneeled to pray.
The mission bells told me, that I shouldn't stay.
South of the border, down Mexico way.

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay)
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay)
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay (Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay)
Good bye good bye.

I think one thing that throws any understanding off is the big swinging beat.

(My guess is when he didn't come back, she became a nun. But I may be influenced by a carved Madonna I picked up at a garage sale yesterday which is now hanging across from my bed).

Try Gene Autry's version for a different feel.

What song lyrics mystify you?


Charles Gramlich said...

Lana might be able to tell you this. She likes Frank. Me, not so much.

Evan Lewis said...

Don't think I've heard Frank's version, so I've always pictured Gene as the fancy-free cowboy who falls for the senorita. He can't be tied down, of course, so hits the trail. But he can't stop thinking about her, and eventually rides on back. Seeing her praying, he knows she'll want to get hitched, so he vamooses again. A tender and moving tale, to be sure.

Richard Robinson said...

I have the Sinatra, I have the album (Come Fly With Me, 1958) and have listened to it many times.

He goes to Mexico, they have a fling, he leaves her, she not expecting it. (They both say "tomorrow" but only she means it). Later, he goes back and he sees her in church. I always thought, though she kneels to pray, that the veil of white was her wedding veil, that she has fallen in love with another man and has just gotten, or about to get, married. So (the MIssion bells also being the wedding bells), he slips away.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Richard Robinson. The white veil is a wedding veil, and kneeling to pray in candlelight describes the lady's wedding. In traditional societies, the bride wore a white veil which was lifted at the end of the ceremony. And yes, the mission bells were wedding bells, telling the returning narrator to leave.

Richard Wheeler

pattinase (abbott) said...

That Madonna on my wall threw me off.

George said...

I never figured out what "Louie,Louie" by the Kingsmen was all about, Patti.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Been trying to come up with that title all day.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

George-Louie Louie is about a guy in the navy missing his girl while he's at sea.The title refers to a second Lt. he's talking to.
Always hated South of the Border-no matter who did it.

Dana King said...

I've never been able to figure out how Johnny Cash could shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die and end u0p in a California prison.

Kerrie said...

I thought the veil of white was a wedding veil. If she was a Spanish nun, then it would very likely be black

Paul D Brazill said...

Good song, though I'm a Capital Years man when it comes to Frank.
Richard R's take on the song seems right to me.

I just want to know how that soppy girl knows how many bicycles are in Bejing. That's A FACT. Apparentlt.