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Unread 03-07-2021, 07:48 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
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Default "Rocky Raccoon"

Question for a poem--does everyone know the song "Rocky Raccoon"? I have a poem that starts:

"Rocky Raccoon"

Imagine that this is summer,
a throbbing afternoon.
A mustachioed park-bench strummer
is crooning "Rocky Raccoon."

Allusions are dangerous because you can limit your audience, but major Beatles' songs are basic cultural knowledge, right?

I later allude to the climactic word in the song ("revival"), so the poem assumes some familiarity with the lyrics.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 03-07-2021 at 08:39 AM.
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Unread 03-07-2021, 08:27 AM
Chris O'Carroll Chris O'Carroll is offline
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Posts: 1,685

Whether or not the Beatles are more popular than Jesus, their songs are certainly among the world's most widely known cultural phenomena. My guess is that more readers will recognize a Beatles reference than a line from Dickinson or Whitman or Shakespeare.
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Unread 03-07-2021, 08:38 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Location: New York, NY
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Thank you for the encouragement. Yes, if one must allude, popular Beatles' song are fairly safe bet.
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Unread 03-07-2021, 09:01 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,938

I'll be interested to see what responses you get here.

There's a fashionable aspect to pop music, and fashions change. My daughter, a radio hound, finds my music--Beatles included--uncool.

The way younger people consume music also works against good Rocky. I think they buy what they like song-by-song (without even the flip side our singles had), and so are less likely to stumble on something they didn't seek out. They can own "Blackbird," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," and "Helter Skelter" without ever hearing "Rocky Racoon."

And there's an awful lot of Beatles music a new listener is likely to hear before "Rocky Racoon." So even a person who recognizes the title as a Beatles' song might not know the lyrics. I played a lot of Beatles music for my kids (back when they were willing to listen to my music); I'm not sure I ever played them "Rocky Raccoon."
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Unread 03-07-2021, 10:57 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 5,366

Put the Beatles song origin in a note at the end of a book. You could even have fun explaining what the Beatles are (were).
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Unread 03-07-2021, 11:08 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 389

I didn't recognise the title but did recognise the lyrics when I googled.

Can you get away with having a snatch of the actual song? It might just be me, but once I knew it was the one with 'Gideon's Bible' in it, I remembered the track.

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Unread 03-07-2021, 12:36 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
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Aaron, I like it. (But then again I would. I'm a Beatles junkie) I think the White Album was arguably their greatest album (most prolific at least). Rocky Raccoon rollicks. Lennon considered it another McCartney fluff piece. The album is chock-full of characters. Perhaps you could draw in some inferences to other songs on the album. The song list is impressive (30 songs, all of them good. Itís loaded.)

It really comes down to how the song figures into the poem. If it is just incidental (though I don't think it is since you say you end with the word "revival"), But if it's central to the poem then I say go for it. Anything with a Beatles reference is sure to get attention.

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Unread 03-07-2021, 01:16 PM
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Minneapolis
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Yes, go for it. I want to see this poem, which looks like it will be a narrative ballad. Let's see if the strummer comes to a bad end. Enjoy your next trip to the Black Mountain Hills!
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Unread 03-07-2021, 04:45 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,987

The name didn't ring a bell for me. I found it on YouTube and I don't think I've ever heard it before.

I guess familiarity is going to depend in part on age. The Beatles split up a few months before I was born. I never really intentionally listened to much of their stuff -- except Sgt Pepper, which my parents owned.
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Unread 03-07-2021, 05:29 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 339

Nah, never heard of it. But I don't think you should be worried. They are incredibly famous, and if I read it in a poem capitalised that I knew it to be a title of something, I would google it.
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