Sunday, October 21, 2012

Costumes and Masks: The Lone Teen Ranger


We’re celebrating Halloween a week early here this week. This way, anyone who still doesn’t know what to dress up as can benefit from our suggestions. Seriously, Halloween, at least as observed here in the United States, is the time when we give into the urge for a short time to become someone or something else. That urge may be motivated by a desire for secrecy or concealment. Or, it may be a way of projecting a different identity onto someone else. The whole question of identity is rich ground for songwriters, and costumes and masks are a fine way to express that.

That said, our first example is not the finest display of deep songwriting you will ever hear. The Lone Teen Ranger is a 1950’s pop song about jealousy. The masked man in the title is a metaphor for a rival who probably doesn’t wear a mask as he walks the halls of his high school. The song is sometimes credited to Jerry Landis by himself, and sometimes to his group Tom & Jerry. This is itself a disguise for a duo that would later become much better known as Simon and Garfunkle. Landis is Paul Simon, whose songwriting under his own name is of a very different quality than this.

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