You probably don’t know this song, which is too bad. But that’s the way it goes.
This was Del Shannon’s second big hit, behind the monster juggernaut that was “Runaway”. It was number one in the U.S., and lots of other countries, back in 1961.
“Hats Off To Larry” was the follow-up single, and it was still a big hit, reaching the Top 5 in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, among others.
But the nature of pop music is that it’s popular for a short time, and then we forget and move on to whatever’s next.
Del had lots of hits in the 1960’s, and even a couple “comeback” singles in the 1980’s, but “Runaway” is the only one that seems to have survived in our consciousness.
This stuff isn’t taught in schools, and today’s so-called “Oldies” stations are moving on, featuring mostly 1980’s hits, with some 1970’s mixed in and an occasional shout out to the Beatles.
But I don’t want to get sidelined here, and I could go on and on about the pathetic state of radio and all the wonderful music that is slowly and sadly fading into oblivion.
“Hats Off To Larry” is one of those rare songs who’s lyrics delve into karma (sort of). The singer has lost his girl to a guy named Larry. And Larry, in turn, has now dumped her and broken her heart.
The singer is, in part, glad about this turn of events, and that now it’s her turn to cry-cry-cry.
But he also laments that, despite it all, he still wants her back, and that maybe now that she’s been through all this, she’ll change.
I think many of us hope that we’ll get the chance to see someone who wronged us get their comeuppance. I know that for me, there’s someone who treated me rather badly and, from time to time, I get a little more glee out of news that some slight misfortune has befallen her. It’s not a very grown-up thing to do or feel, and I’m not proud of it.
But sometimes I just can’t help it.
Unlike the singer in this song, though, I’ve no interest in revisiting that part of my life. I have no illusions that there are any lessons being learned there, or that any change is happening.
And, to be honest, I don’t care.
That’s a closed chapter of my life. I don’t wish ill will upon her, or anyone, really, I’m not exactly rooting for her to win the lottery, either, but it won’t improve my life if anything bad happens to her.
I think that’s a trap we all fall into, from time to time.
It’s hard enough for us to move on from a difficult situation, be it personal or professional. And sometimes, when things seem to be at their darkest, we believe that it will make us feel better if the party that wronged us suffers.
Seriously, how does that help?
Whatever pain we have, whatever trauma we have to overcome, is ours and ours alone. Everyone has issues and problems. And adding to someone else’s load will never lighten yours.
Sometimes, we also fall into the trap of believing that our problems are so big and so unique that no one else could understand.
You aren’t the first person to be betrayed by someone you loved or worked with. You aren’t the first person to have lost a loved one. Or a job. Or your wallet, your car or your house.
You aren’t the first child to be disowned by their parents. Or the first parent to be disowned by their child.
Lawsuits. Evictions. Cancer. They’re all bad, and they happen to everyone.
So thinking or treating everyone else as though they could never understand, that they have no idea what you’re going through, well, that’s as ridiculous as hoping that Larry’s ex will change and come back to you.
Instead, try to find the positive, and embrace it. Easy for me to say, I know, but just try.
This week has been a pretty lousy week for me, personally and professionally. But I still (mostly) love what I do. And I’m fortunate enough to have people in my life who love me (some in their own way, of course, but what can you do?).
I also have the music.
There is probably a song for any problem any of us have ever had. Sometimes the singer commiserates. Sometimes, he even wins.
Think about that for a moment.
It might be difficult to believe anyone in your family, or any of your friends, have any idea about what you’re going through. Even though that’s probably true, there has also probably been a song about it, too!
That means that, whatever you’re dealing with, someone else was not only dealing with it, too, but they set it to music!
I realize that doesn’t change everything. You still have whatever problem you had. But it should help you to realize one very important thing – you aren’t alone. This isn’t some horrible injustice that has happened to you and only you.
And even if you don’t get to talk to Del Shannon, you should know he’s had his heart broken, too. And, if whoever broke your heart gets their heart broken, I just ask that you seriously think about it before you try to get them back.
Ken Kessler has always been interested in psychic phenomena, and like Mulder on the X-Files, wants to believe. But like most, he tends to look for, and accept, rational explanations. (More)