You’re So Vain – Solar Eclipse

My last solar eclipse was on March 7, 1970, when I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee (not to be confused with Knoxville, GA, the birthplace of John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola). It was a partial eclipse in Knoxville, and while it didn’t get totally dark, it did darken the skies to almost a dusk level. I recall being warned not to look at the sun during the eclipse, so I had the shoebox with the hole in it from which to view the eclipse. I don’t recall being particularly impressed by it, probably because of 1) the shoebox and 2) not being a total eclipse.

solar eclipseA couple of years later, Carly Simon released “You’re So Vain”, which referenced that eclipse. “Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia, To see the total eclipse of the sun.” In fact, it was a total eclipse of the sun in Nova Scotia in 1970. To my knowledge, that is the one and only rock’n’roll (or pop) song that directly addresses a solar eclipse, although there are some songs I’ve never heard of on a Google search that use the term “solar eclipse” but without context it’s hard to equate those to an actual eclipse.

A few lines that you have undoubtedly misheard in Carly’s song are:

“Your hat strategically dipped below one eye. Your scarf, it was apricot.” Many hear “Your haircut was African.”

“You had one eye on the mirror. And watched yourself gavotte.” Many hear “watched yourself go by.” Gavotte is a French dance dating from the mid-1800s.

Enough about Carly. Another popular solar eclipse song is “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, made famous by Bonnie Tyler. The song is a vampire song, that is, a love song between vampires. So if this is one of your favorite songs, your partner should be worried, very worried. Jim Steinman wrote the song for Tyler, when they met after a Meat Loaf concert. (Do you address him as Mr. Meat Loaf, or Mr. Loaf? I’ve never been sure.) Anyway, Steinman had this to say: “I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was Vampires in Love because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark.” So “Eclipse of the Heart” has nothing to do with a solar eclipse, other then vampires can come out during the 2:44 total eclipse I guess, but I think it’d be hard to get your fangs into a major artery before the light came back on.

A favorite song of mine is from a group named Crykle called “Red Rubber Ball.” The red rubber ball is the sun, in case you haven’t heard the tune. “And I think it’s gonna be all right. Yeah, the worst is over now.The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball.” It’s a nice little pop tune, written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley (of the Seekers). The song went to #2 on the charts, but was held out of #1 by “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles. It was the fifth week in 1966 in which Simon’s song was held out of #1 by a Beatles’ tune.

Remember, same rule as in 1970. Don’t look directly at the sun, it can cause permanent eye damage. Really. Just don’t do it. Use the shoebox trick or get some eclipse glasses or watch it on TV. I’m taking the kids to North Georgia to see the Full Meal Deal, but if you stay here, it’s still a pretty good show. Enjoy.

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