17 February 2011

Finding Out About Lola

Today I heard the Kinks' Lola on the radio.  That, in itself, is not so unusual:  "oldies" and "classic rock" stations play it all the time.  

I heard it over the PA system in a cafe where I stopped for a cup of tea on my way to my part-time gig.  Two young guys were working behind the counter.  One of them nudged the other:  "Yo, ya hear this song?"

"Yeah, so?"

"It's about a cross-dresser!"

His nomenclature may or may not be accurate.  Some think that "Lola" is a pre-op trans woman.  How would we know, just listening to the song?

But I couldn't help but to wonder how many times that young man heard the song before it occured to him that it's about a guy's encounter with a girl who turns out to be a guy.  I've heard other people say they heard the song for years before they actually listened to the lyrics.  They can be forgiven:  The song has a catchy tune and opens with some pretty good guitar work.

What's interesting about the song is that, near the end, the narrator says "But when I looked in her eyes, I almost fell for my Lola."  But, in the end, he avers, "Well I'm not the world's most masculine man/But I know what I am and I'm a glad I'm a man/And so is Lola."

Given that the song was released in 1970, it's amazing that there's anything at all about a cross-dresser or a trans woman.  Still, it's hard not to notice that the narrator goes, in the space of a stanza, from an almost-tolerant attitude to   one who doth protest too much, perhaps.