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 Scott Creney

Moments In Song #2 – Mel McDaniel ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On’

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‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On’ by Mel McDaniel is precisely that kind of song.

It’s a fine enough song, nice jaunty guitar line. Puts a little spring in your step. Get you through the rest of your shift when you’ve been up since 5:30, it’s fast approaching noon and you’re sliding into delirium. It’s just silly, right? A fun little song about a girl walking down the street in a flattering pair of jeans?

But if you think about it, I mean really think about it, I mean if you listen to the song for three hours straight, then the song starts to reveal deeper, more sinister meanings.

Down on the corner, by the traffic light / Everybody’s lookin’, as she goes by / They turn their heads and they watch her till she’s gone.

So there’s this girl walking down the street. We don’t know much about this girl, but we do know that at the traffic light — and the use of the definite article suggests that there is only one traffic light in the entire town — everybody is looking at her. Every single person in the goddamn town is watching this girl. And if everyone at the traffic light is watching her, wouldn’t that include the cars who have the green light? So either they’ve stopped driving despite the green light, or they’re continuing to watch her while they continue driving, either of which is really fucking creepy.  And not only do all these people keep staring, they turn their heads and they watch her until they can no longer see her. And how long is that exactly? Five minutes? Ten minutes? Does she turn down a side street, or simply continue walking until she vanishes over the horizon? And how does the narrator react to this scene?

Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her blue jeans on!

That’s right. He prays to God. He asks the Lord to intervene. So then what happens?

Up by the bus stop, and across the street / Open up their windows, to take a peek

So assuming she’s still in sight, this means that everyone back at the stop light is still watching her, and now she passes the bus stop and people across the street open their windows — of their cars? of the downtown stores? of their apartments? knowing this town it’s probably all three — to peek at her. This is getting more disturbing by the second.

Heaven help us, baby’s got her blue jeans on!

Again with the pleading for divine intervention. Only this time, the narrator asks God to help everyone in the town, presumably to cast the temptation out of their mind. or simply to ask forgiveness. But what about the girl, Mel? Tell us about this girl.

She can’t help it if she’s made that way / She’s not to blame if they look her way / She ain’t really tryin’ to cause a scene / It just comes naturally

Wait. So you’re telling me that this girl walks down the street, traffic stops, people stare at her, everyone opens their windows, and she doesn’t notice any of this? That she is completely oblivious to the effect of her blue jeans? Furthermore, the mentioning of the bus stop, coupled with the girl’s lack of self-awareness concerning her sexuality forces us to ask the question: Just exactly how old is this girl?

Well up on Main Street, by the taxi stand / There’s a crowd of people, and a traffic jam

There is a traffic jam! A crowd of people have gathered to watch her! Run girl! Run for your life!

She don’t look back / She ain’t doing nothing wrong

And still she doesn’t even notice. She don’t even look back! Oh, how Bob Dylan was wrong (or was it D.A. Pennebaker? Who cares! Run!). Please look back sexy young girl with the orgiastic pants! For the love of God, look back!

Lord have mercy, baby’s got her blue jeans on

THE NARRATOR IS PRAYING TO GOD FOR MERCY! And then he repeats the chorus again, like a mantra, almost whispering it under his breath, before repeating the first verse — or is it a different traffic light? with an equally sinister occurrence?

Down on the corner, by the traffic light / Everybody’s lookin’, as she goes by / They turn their heads and they watch her till she’s gone

The song closes with more beseeching unto the Lord. For mercy, for help, for forgiveness. But nobody did anything to the girl, you ask, why would he be asking the Lord for mercy?

Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her blue jeans on!
Heaven help us, baby’s got her blue jeans on!

Oh no, nothing’s happened to this denim-clad girl. Not yet, anyway.

But keep listening. And then you’ll begin to understand. It all becomes clear at 11:30 in the morning, with the second shift nowhere to be found, and all the coffee in the world won’t stop you from drifting off into a nightmare starring Mel McDaniel and an innocent girl.

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