June 21, 2006

"It's an institute you can't disparage."

The theme this week on "Theme Time Radio Hour With Bob Dylan": marriage. I like the way the old hipster is blatantly square in matching themes to the calendar. We had mother for Mother's Day, father for Father's Day, and now, marriage for June. He also tells the very squarest jokes he can find on the subject, like: My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.

He had a lot of good songs, like Darlene Love singing "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry" and Etta James doing "Stop the Wedding." And it's nice to note the obvious choices that he didn't do, like "Chapel of Love" and "Band of Gold." He had some old blues songs in there, and Rosemary Clooney singing "I'm Getting Married in the Morning."

A funny thing is that, even after that post last night, the subject of gay marriage never crossed my mind until, late in the show, he played Frank Sinatra singing "Love and Marriage." It's such a fun, sardonic song the way Frank sings it, and most of the time he makes me think he's just talking about how women won't let guys have sex with them unless marriage is part of the deal: you can't have one, you can't have none, you can't have one without the other. But there's that part:
Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage
Ask the local gentry
And they will say it's elementary

Try, try, try to separate them
It's an illusion
Try, try, try, and you will only come
To this conclusion
Okay, so, well, we are asking the local gentry, seeing as how we've got a referendum coming up. And a lot of people think in terms of "defending " marriage, that institute you can't disparage. But if there's an elementary idea that love and marriage go together, and you're delusional if you think you can disaggregate them, then it seems plain -- you will only come to this conclusion -- that human beings who love each other ought to be able to marry.

Sorry. Reasoning from song lyrics again. Frank made me do it, even though I think he's making fun of the words of the song -- and the women who hold out for marriage -- all the way through.

What was Bob's attitude toward marriage? Elusive, as usual. But he ended reciting some lines without saying the author's name:
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Please imagine that said with classic Dylanesque intonation: Love's not Time's fool...


mcg said...

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

mcg said...

Read at my wedding!

P. Froward said...

"his bending sickle"

"His" who? (Or "Who he?", in the words of Harold Ross) He's apostrophizing both of 'em! Obviously Time's the one with the sickle, but still. It's disambiguated after the fact. That always bugged the crap out of me. You'd think a writer that great would, you know, not let that sort of.... of thing, happen.

Wurly said...

Under your own interpretation, where love is merely a code word for sex, I doubt you would agree with the sentiment that you can't have sex outside of marriage.

Verification: nqnno (no nooky for you).

angieoh! said...

One of my favorite marriage related songs: Golden Rings (George Jones and Tammy Wynette) very classic country but fantastic song all the same.

Dave said...

That Sinatra song makes me think of Al Bundy and that fountain in Chicago that is shown at the opening of Married With Children...

jeff said...

Ah, the Married w/Children fountain. I never really noticed it until the episode where Al got fed up with his "Lo-Flow" toilet and went on a search for a "man's toilet."

The resulting flush made the fountain drop to about half-height.

That was back when the show was marginally worth watching.

Dave said...

Well, I was never really a fan of the show...

I had never heard that song until the show came on.

Doug said...

Getting back to Sinatra's "Love & Marriage", trivia bragging rights for the person who can name the first television show it was featured in.

And, no, its not Married With Children

John said...

Here's a guess.

1959's "Love & Marriage" with William Demarest aka-"Uncle Charley" from "My Three Sons"?

Ann Althouse said...

Good question, Doug. It had different words, right? That's going to drive me crazy, now.

Verification word: snorexr. A new remedy for snoring.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, no, it was just a show called "Love and Marriage," right?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

angieoh!: While I agree the song you mention is fantastic, it makes me think of divorce.

Look at verse 3:
In a small two room apartment as they fight their final round He says You won't admit it but I know you're leavin' town. She says One thing's for certain I don't love you anymore. And throws down the ring as she walks out the door.

The titular ring then goes back to a pawn shop in Chicago where this couple first eyed it.

Doug said...


No, not "Love & Marriage" the TV show, if there was such a thing.

To clarify, and perhaps provide a clue, I am specifically talking about the Sinatra version of the song. Although I'm pretty sure nobody had sung it before him.

Doug said...


Nice try, but that's not it either

Jim said...

Most Americans seem to think that we should get married just like they did in the Bible. The interesting thing is that there is no marriage ceremony portrayed in the Bible except in the water-wine story that had everything to do about treating guests right and nothing about the bride and groom.

While the Bible is full of stories of conjugal misery (Job), sodomy & incest (Lot and Adam's kids and grandkids), rape and polygamous relationships (Tribe of Benjamin and the patriarchs), adultery (David, et al), and happy bachelorhood (Paul and Jesus, maybe?), there isn't even a cool courtship, let alone a decent wedding. And not much in the way of a model for an ideal marriage relationship. Solomon's porno verse comes the closest, but doesn't deal with marriage and weddings. If I had to preach on biblical marriage, I'd have to pick a text from the Book of Ruth.

If we didn't have the fiats from the pope and Focus on the Family, we wouldn't know how to have a godly marriage and wedding ceremony!

angieoh! said...

Ruth Anne - yes it is about divorce but it is also about marriage -

"In a little wedding chapel later on that afternoon
An old upright piano plays that old familiar tune

Tears roll down her cheeks
And happy thoughts run through her head
As he whispers low, "With this ring, I thee wed."

BEAUTIFUL... especially since George and Tammy had a history/future gave the song much depth.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

angieoh!: But George and Tammy had a volatile relationship, ending in divorce. It was her third of five marriages. I would say that this song mirrors her view of marriage: hopeful at first; likely to fail.

The song you cite does not provide a happy ending and therefore I maintain it's about divorce. All the starry-eyed lovestruck feelings [which you cite] are dashed in the final verse and you're left devastated that the ring survived to curse yet another marriage when this marriage died.

reader_iam said...

"Love & Marriage" was written in 1955 for a musical television production of "Our Town" ... starring Frank Sinatra (plus Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint). This song was among a number that resulted from a collaboration by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, the two of whom were introduced by ... Frank Sinatra.

Dinah Shore also did a popular version of the song, in the same year, 1955.

whit said...

Ann said: "...human beings who love each other ought to be able to marry."

Does that include brothers and sisters? polyamorous marriages? Adults and minors?

reader_iam said...

We selected a passage from Ruth as part of our wedding, btw.

And "Love & Marriage" was one of the songs sung by our the "Big Band" we had at our wedding reception. Since it was fronted by a "girl singer," the version sounded more like Shore's. I'll never forget it, primarily because it was the background for one of the more comical moments in my generally comical wedding.


Doug said...


Absolutely correct

Philip said...

No love within that bosom sits/ that on himself such murderous shame commits.

Besides, what about the baby in the baby carriage?

Revenant said...

Most Americans seem to think that we should get married just like they did in the Bible.

I don't know ANY Americans who think that.

What most Americans think is that people should get married in a manner consistent with the institution of marriage -- i.e., a formal ceremony between one man and one woman, which is what marriage has meant to people in the Christian world for, oh, around two millennia. Many (most?) Americans also believe that marriage should be *consistent* with the Bible, which, since the God of the Bible is openly homophobic, also rules out gay marriages.

But the idea that Americans think that marriage means doing all the same things people did in the Bible is fairly ridiculous -- especially if you go back to the religious practices of the Old Testament, which Christians believe Jesus did largely away with.

Ann Althouse said...

Whit: Obviously, children must be protected. Other exceptions can be justified. But the presumption should be in favor of letting two adults who love each other marry.

Anybody see the Colbert Report bit about marrying a snake?

Philip said...


The presumption is to maintain the tradition. You speak as if those opposed to the change were revolutionaries.

Love exists between many people regardless of marriage. It cannot be a matter of law, however, because it is impossible to know if people really love each other.