Monday, February 03, 2014

My Sweet Lady Jane: More Lawrence Than Chaucer.

                            Rolling Stones: Lady Jane You Tube Video by String Bean.


This particular one by The Stones is not listed in the book, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery and Tony Visconti although As Tears Go By is. But it's supposed to be one of the biggest songs on the Rolling Stones' achievement plaque (i). And I love its subtlety.

Remembering the lyrics with its soft, sweet balladry I was surprised the lyrics were compared to Geoffrey Chaucer's English because when asked to comment on the song, Mick Jagger remarked that the names were historical, fitting together from the same period.

Jane Seymour (1508-1537)
He added, "Lady Jane is very Elizabethan. There are a few places in England where people still speak that way, Chaucer English (ii)."  True, it was around the period he mentioned but Queen Elizabeth the First was born more than 200 years after Chaucer.

If I remember correctly, one of Chaucer's theme was of courtly love and his most famous, The Canterbury Tales were pretty much bawdy in nature.  But this song was loosely based on Jane Seymour (not the actress la), King Henry the VIII's third wife. Unlike other wives she was spared execution but finally died from childbirth complication. And the lyrics' no Chaucer English.  No matter what comments Lady Jane is a beautiful song.

Musically for accompaniment and to provide that Elizabethan feel, The Stones used an acoustic guitar, a harpsichord and a dulcimer, the last instrument was played by the late Brian Jones.  And the lyrics, missive-styled and pledging his troth since "wedlock is nigh", was written by humble servant Jagger with Keith Richards composing the music.

Light pop balladry or roaring gut-bucket rock i.e. shifting gears from one music extreme to another, that's what the Stones are able to do. And that's why they're still around.  

My sweet Lady Jane/When I see you again/Your servant am I/And will humbly remain.../Your time has come my love/I've pledged my troth to Lady Jane/The sands have run out/For your lady and me/Wedlock is nigh my love.

To be honest, the song reminds me more of D.H. Lawrence's, Lady Chatterley's Lover rather than Mr Chaucer's Tales, especially when the name Lady Jane is used because readers can surely remember thrusty  John Thomas.  Humble servant indeed.

Was this song ever banned anywhere?  Unlikely. What's your opinion?

(I and ii) The Rolling Stones: Stories Behind The Biggest Songs by Steve Appleford.
Images: Google.


Photo from: The New York Times.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman the Oscar-winning star, 46, was found dead at his Greenwich Village home on Sunday (2nd February, 2014).  

Achievements:1 best actor Oscar for Capote, 2005   
3 supporting actor Oscar nominations
51 feature *film releases, 1991-2014
29 dramas, 21 comedies, 1 animation
3 real life characters he played

Source: IMDB, The Numbers.

*Some of the movies that he appeared in include: Twister, Boogie Nights, The Talented Mr Ripley,  Almost Famous, Capote, Mission Impossible III and The Hunger Games (series).

According to newspaper reports the lights along theatre marquees on New York's Broadway were to be dimmed on Wednesday in his honor.


Michael Staub said...

About song 'Lady Jane'

Girls were liberating their first animalistic insticts, not holding back their desires to shout and screem. The first wave of inner liberation which started a whole generation to come making way for a revolution of the heart, soul and of course in the bedrooms too.

(A You Tube Comment Pick)

Available8063 said...

Sometimes I think the Beatles were just peerless, then I hear this song and think The Stones reign supreme. Ah, the same old same old. But there's no doubt the Beatles had done nothing like this or Out of Time or Mother's Little Helper or Paint it Black in early 66. I think this era of 66-68 is way underrated and their best.

bigtuk51 said...

You are all way off beat. Lady Jane was the gamekeeper's pet name for Lady Chatterly's ..... in Lady Chatterly' Lover. Listen to the lyrics. Read Philip Norman's excellent biography of The Rolling Stones. You might actually learn some truths about them.

(A You Tube Pick).

whackthedog said...

Great song by one of the best bands in the world. why was I born in the 80's. Musicians nowadays forget the most important ingredients of music: Love, inspiration, soul. You can't replace these ingredients with all the computers in the world. Love the Stones!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Letter 3 above:

Just read bigtuk51's comment while browsing through You Tube's "Lady Jane" video. My own comment is about whether it's more a Chaucer or a Lawrence influence. Interpreting lyrics, books or whatever has no right or wrong answer. The beat goes on...

(With due respects to Brian Jones who had passed on).

JAMES KWOK said...

Hi Andy,

I agree with you:

"To be honest, the song reminds me more of D.H. Lawrence's, Lady Chatterley's Lover rather than Mr Chaucer's Tales, especially when the name Lady Jane is used because readers can surely remember thrusty John Thomas. Humble servant indeed."

The song came out in 1966, when I was in college. It immediately brought my mind back to my Sec 2 year (1961): a classmate had been passing around a copy
of DHL's 'LCL' with certain pages dog-eared to mark out passages that deserved
special study for their lyrical descriptions.

I remember a very interesting link between astronomy, Roman mythology & human
anatomy - a topographical feature (methinks a mound or molehill) belonging to
Venus: our neighbouring planet or the Roman goddess.

But those were the days, my friend, when it was hard to come by 'complete and
unexpurgated' versions of some publications (unless one has a family member
working in a British military base or some other foreign-government administered
enclave in Singapore), which today are very tame compared to the full-frontal videos
available in-your-face at the click of a mouse.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks so much James for your comment. Yes, I remember 'Lady C', 'Lolita' and 'Woman of Rome' were banned from our National Library shelves. Wonder if they are available nowadays.

I love your pertinent and invaluable description of anatomy and topography.

I wonder what Mr Peter Chan and Mr Lam Chun See have to say about this topic.

Lam Chun See said...

All I can say is that I enjoyed the song. Never did pay much attention to lyrics in those days; except for the Beatles classic; "She says Goodbye, I say Hello. Hello Hello ... I don't know why she said goodbye I say Hello".

Who can forget lyrics like that.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

That's a humorous and frank response Chun See. And it's supposed to be a classic. I won't get entangled with this one since we're still with LADY JANE. Thanks for reply.

Jerry Fernandez said...

It's a great song, written possibly about Marianne Faithful, once Mick Jagger's girlfriend. I sung it very recently @ the tribute - ROLLING STONES CONCERT, LAST YEAR. LOVE THE SONG, IT'S PART OF MY REPERTOIRE,IT'S BEAUTIFUL, IT'S NOT FOUND ON THE CD'S OF STONES. CHEERS.

TC Lai said...

It was reported somewhere that Mick Jagger didn't know why he wrote this song. My own feeling is that the sound of the dulcimer brought then back to the Elizabethan era. Basically they wrote a simple song. The lyrics were about Henry VIII's wives. Listening to it I thought it was simply a polygamist's lament, nothing more. I disagree that it has something to do with DH Lawrence's LCLover ; the lyrics just don't add up. If there is a 'Lady Jane' there should be a 'John Thomas'. As I understand it, there was interest in this kind of melody at the time (why the dulcimer). If you listen to some 60s movie or TV theme songs, they have undertones of Lady Jane, especially those of mysteries or time traveller tales, most recently featured in that Sherlock series starring B Cumberbatch. But really, Lady Jane is just a simple song. No big deal about it. And nothing Chaucer about it. That would be giving it too much credit I feel.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you TC for the comment. Mick Jagger was reported as saying in 1968, "I really don't know what that's all about myself." And it was in 1971 that Keith Richards remarked, "To me Lady Jane is very Elizabethan", adding that there were, "a few places in England that people speak that way, Chaucer English."

I really need to read Philip Norman's biography of The Stones before making more comments (Letter 3 above) about the name'Lady Jane'.

You may be right about it being a simple song. Perhaps I'm just reading too much into the lyrics but like you said it is "a polygamist's lament". Hurrah and great for jolly John Thomas.

Thanks again TC. Truly appreciate you taking time to write for this blog.

(1) Quotes are from the same book on main posting. (2) I have written to TC myself for his personal opinion. He's very quick on the draw).


kapersky said...

Great issues altogether. You simply won a new reader.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you kapersky. I don't know which part of the world you're from but do visit us again. Pop music is definitely an international way of communicating.

Anonymous said...

hello andy, kong hay fatt choy!!!
i agree with the commentor who said beatles were nowhere near mick and keith...( mother's little helper, 19th nervous breakdown, under my thumb, get off my cloud,etc).
i always thought only guys prefer the stones to beatles, until i worked in an accounting firm to find out that my boss (a lady chartered accountant) also preferred stones to the beatles.
she and the other women at work said mick and keith were "bad" and paul and john were just "plain".
well, mick and keith are still rocking with new songs, and we know what happened to beatles after john . ie. paul keeps churning the same old same old.. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

cheers from canada ,
take care !
your buddy matt tan (ex-
fried ice ..founder/bass/vcl)..

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Matt,
What spicy sauce have you added to this side dish? Thank you for invigorating comment. Prepared and ready to take on the goose by its neck.

I don't mind both groups actually but the Stones have more edge since they are still performing even today bursting on stage with their energy and spectator capacity of up to 250,000 during an appearance with flags a flying and banners unfurling amongst the fans. I don't know how Mick Jagger can have so much stamina. He's like Maria Sharapova in Wimbledon during a titles match, dancing, prancing and screaming, ever ready for a confrontation but mostly with a concentrated effort to win. And win he does, with his onlookers begging for more.