Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Defense Rests

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I stand accused of "revisionist history in the making," a heinous crime. My esteemed sibling would have you believe that I made a bet with him that I could find an interview with Ronnie Van Zant wherein the lead singer specifically stated that the smell referred to in the song "That Smell" was the smell of death. This despite the fact that he and I both know Van Zant died in a plane crash three days after the release of the album that contained the song in question so interviews mentioning that song are few. And he and I both know (though only I will admit to knowing) that the aforementioned smell is obviously the smell of death and is indisputably clear from the lyrics where no other smell other than "the smell of death" is mentioned.

Methinks my esteemed sibling doth insult your intelligence. He would have you believe that the conversation went something like this:

Me: Boy, I bet I can find an interview where Ronnie Van Zant says that the smell of death in the song "That Smell" is actually the smell of death.
Esteemed Sibling: I bet you can't.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am no genius. That will be proved to everyone's satisfaction very shortly. (If it hasn't already been proved by the fact that my brother -- who also is no genius -- outscored me twice on the SAT 33 years ago.) But I would certainly not take a sucker bet like that. It's obvious to me and to all right-thinking people that the white in "White Christmas" refers to snow, so obvious that I doubt I could find an interview with Bing Crosby or Irving Berlin wherein they state that obvious fact, and so I would not make a bet that I could.

The actual conversation that led up to the bet went something more like this:

Esteemed Sibling says something about the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" being about LSD.

Me: I've read a lot of interviews with John Lennon and he always said that the song was not about LSD. It was inspired by a picture that his son Julian drew.

ES: John Lennon is full of shit. That song is obviously about LSD.

Me: So you know more about the song than the man who wrote it?

ES: I know an LSD song when I hear it.

Me: (trying to dig him out of this hole he's digging for himself) I think you haven't really thought about this thing since you were in high school and we were always looking for drug references in songs, like "The Hotel California" being about THC or "That Smell" being about the smell of marijuana.

ES: "That Smell" is about the smell of marijuana.

Me: Of course it's not. It's about the smell of death. It says so right in the song.

ES: No, it's about the smell of marijuana.

Me: I bet you it's not.

ES: Okay, it's a bet. How are we going to settle it?

Me: (And here is where I prove once and for all that I'm not a genius. What I should have said was "Let's listen to the song carefully as grownups," but I didn't. What I actually said was:) Well, I could probably find an interview with Ronnie Van Zant where he talks about the song and --

ES: All right. If you can find an interview with RVZ where he specifically says the song "That Smell" is about the smell of death than I'll admit I lost and pay up.

So you see, ladies and gentlemen, the bet was not about whether I could find an interview with Ronnie Van Zant discussing "That Smell". It was about what the smell was. The interview was the only proof that my ES would accept. (And come to think of it, he probably wouldn't have accepted such proof even if I could have found it anyway. He wouldn't accept multiple interviews with John Lennon that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was not about LSD.)

I've also been accused of having a eight-month long temper tantrum, a charge to which I plead innocent. And in the spirit of the season I would like to extend my hand in fellowship to my esteemed sibling and declare this bet a draw.

What do you say, John? The ball's in your, er, court.


Anonymous said...

Yes, please.


Zan said...

From what I can tell, there are more references to heroin and cocaine than marijuana in that song. And he does say (in the chorus!) "The smell of death surrounds you."

Norrin2 said...

Thanks, Zan. What I should have done when I made that bet was have you be the judge.