Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Denver, an affront to language?

Well, Gilligan is dead. Long live Gilligan. It's a role he couldn't escape, though he might be more fondly remembered for Maynard G. Krebs. Bob Denver's own Maynard's CoffeeHouse gives him partial credit for the hippies.

I must confess I've never seen Dobie Gillis; yet it has still creeped into the subconscious.When Loudon mentions Maynard in Cobwebs I knew what he was talking about. As you read in this interview excerpt from Pure Music, Loudon Wainwright is still a bit cryptic about whatever he's singing about.

PM: Exactly. I really like the song “Cobwebs” for several reasons.
LW: Uh-huh.
PM: I mean, not only is it a break from the folk groove musically—which, I mean, I like that too—but I appreciate the subject, since we have to remove so many examples of that unmentionable word from absolutely every interview we do.
LW: Yeah, yeah. Well, as I mentioned in the song, I myself misuse the word constantly. But when I hear it—
PM: How did it ever come to be?
LW: I don’t know. The song explores it a bit, I suppose. I think it was my generation, with the Jack Kerouac-like wild man beatnik thing, that might have—
PM: Oh, it was the beatnik thing, right, “like, crazy daddy-o.”
LW: Right. Well, that’s why I mentioned Maynard G. Krebs. I think that might have been the beginnings of it, people in the 50s and 60s who gave it a kind of hip cache.
PM: [laughs]
LW: But now it’s just interwoven into the culture. I mean, every time my daughter says it, I want to do this [makes buzzer noise], make the buzzer noise and penalize her. But then she—the lower lip starts to tremble, so I back off. But I say the word myself, so—
PM: I mean, it’s really not unusual, literally, to take about 100 of them out of any given interview.
LW: Yeah. Well, it’s insidious. It’s like mold or mildew or something. It really has peppered the language, and infected it, in a sense. That song originally appeared on a record called Grown Man. I made it in ’94. So the situation hasn’t improved. I mean, like mold and mildew, it’s spreading.
PM: It’s progressive, right.
LW: Yeah.


For years, I thought it was ----- or maybe ------; but no, it's obviously -------. I'm loathe to say it out loud as it seems to be one of those puzzles that you either know or you don't. For me, it was one of those things were I kept skipping over the most obvious answer. It's right there, he's pracically saying it for god's sake. Definately a palm slap to the forehead with a hearty "d'oh."

This might be a greater offense than the hippies. God luck Bob, hope this doesn't count too much against you.

Cobwebs, Grown Man 1995, Loudon Wainwright III
Well it stumble and it falls off of almost every tongue
Give a listen and you will hear
It's lurkin' like a land mine
In almost every sentence
It's an assualt to my mind's ear

Yeah it might started back with Jack Kerouac
Probably more than likely it was Maynard G. Krebs
It's the four-letter word that used to mean "as if"
And the meaning's covered in cobwebs
Cobwebs

used to be a preposition
Then it was a conjunction
Now it's used as an audible pause
Oh I hate it when I hear it
Especially when I say it
Gotta stamp it out
There oughta be some laws
College boys valley girls
Mall rats grandmommys
Everybody's mis-using that word
I heard four times in one poor little sentence
It was the saddest sound
I ever have heard

Cobwebs Cobwebs Cobwebs

I suppose you could blame it on my generation
Chickens from the sixties finally comin' in to roost
I been sayin' it myself for over 30 years now
Just to give my cool quota just a little bitty kind of a
boost
But when I hear it I can't stand it
'Specially comin' out of the mouth
Of ne of my kids
It's been taught and caught
What have we wrought?
give a listen, hear what we did

I prefer "ah" or "er"
You can rest assured
If you're sayin' what you mean
Then it don't mean a thing
It's just an ugly little four-letter word
Doesn't anybody care
Or am I the only one
Am I just stuck back in some kind of a past
Maybe it's harmless
But it feels like a virus
It sounds like it's cachin' on fast

Cobwebs
Cobwebs

Well it stumble and it falls off of almost every tongue
Give a listen and you will hear
It's lurkin' like a land mine
In almost every sentence
It's an assualt to my mind's ear

Yeah it might started back with Jack Kerouac
Probably more than likely it was Maynard G. Krebs
It's the four-letter word that used to mean "as if"
And the meaning's covered in cobwebs
Cobwebs

Doesn't mean a thing
Cobwebs
Little bitty boost
Jack Kerouac
Cobwebs
Maynard G. Krebs
Cobwebs


If nothing else, it's the only song I know that mentions Maynard G. Krebs.

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