51 Weeks: 51 Songs From The Past: Week 36: Neil Sedaka – Calendar Girl

I had so much fun introducing to you to last week’s song (and playing that trick on many of you) that I thought I’d better get back on track and introduce you to some great music with no tricks. However, sometimes, lyrics to songs can get you asking questions. Are you ready for a long overdue trip back to the 1960s?

51 weeks 51 songs from the past poster

Here we are in 1961 where we’re about to witness a fun song that had everyone singing. But, back then, nobody would have questioned the lyrics, would they?

Calendar Girl became a top ten hit around the world, although it never made it to the number one spot. As I grew up, it was one of my favourite songs, although I wasn’t around at the time it was zooming up the charts. I remember the song being played on the radio and my mother always having a little dance to it while she sang the lyrics. In fact, it was one of the first records she ever bought, and it wasn’t long before my father got very fed up of hearing it being played over and over again.

I remember how I too picked up the lyrics to it really quickly. However, it wasn’t until I heard the song being played on the radio a few years ago that I started questioning some of the lyrics. Back in 1961, I don’t think anyone would have noticed and, even if they did, all they would have seen and heard was what a fun song Calendar Girl was. And, even today, it’s still a lot of fun to listen to, even if I do have to question the story the song tells. Maybe it’s the author in me but, if I had been a beta reader for this song, I would have questioned some of the lyrics straight away.

Can you guess what it is that I’m questioning about this song?

Do you have a favourite song that has you asking questions about the lyrics? Share a link to that song in the comments section.

Thank you to everyone who left a link to a favourite song in the comments section of last week’s post. And a big thank you to Ruth, Barbara, and Kat who joined in with publishing a blog post of a favourite song.

Want to join me in building up your 51 favourite songs from the past? Leave a link in the comments section below and showcase your next song.

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  1. Pingback: I Am the Walrus
  2. I remember Sedaka’s comeback starting with the Captain and Tennille. I was amazed that he had a few hits a second time around, but I thought it was pretty cool, and the songs were fun.
    Most of my favorites are from the 70s, Hugh… So anything from that era.

  3. Love love love love this song! It’s always been such a fun one 🙂 I have never really questioned the lyrics either… I find usually when I delve a little deeper into things it dulls a bit of the shine for me, so I’m just going to keep bobbing my head and singing along to it as I always have 🙂

    1. I always enjoy hearing from somebody who says I’ve inspired them to write something, James. It’s a part of blogging that has inspired me many times. Many of my short stories would never have been written without being inspired by other bloggers. I’ll certainly check out your post.

  4. This was quite a conversation, wasn’t it? I loved reading it though. I admit that the first thing that came to my mind was the calendar cats commercial though. 🙂

    1. Yes, I always love the conversations that some of my posts can generate. I read, today, that some bloggers are going down the route of ‘no comments’ on their blogs so they can write more. For me, the comments are a huge part of blogging, so I hope not that many bloggers go down that route.
      I’ve never seen that commercial before, so I don’t think it was shown in the UK.

      1. When I began my blog I was so worried about what I was going to write that I didn’t give enough thought to who would be reading. I’ve had such a positive experience interacting with other bloggers and it’s very important to me.

        I think if that commercial showed in the U.K., you would have remembered. It certainly stuck in my head. 🙂

        1. Couldn’t agree more, Kat. Why on earth some bloggers think it a good idea to disable comments on all their posts, I’ve no idea. Their stats may say that 100 people have visited the post, but they’ll never know just how many read what they wrote. At least with comments, you know that most will have read the whole post.

        2. I’ve come across a few people who have done this- turned off comments- and when I get to the end of their post and realize that I can’t comment, I’m sad to say that I rarely return to that blog. Interacting with other bloggers was an unexpected bonus for me and I feel kind of swindled if I cannot have that pleasure.

  5. This song always makes me smile, Hugh, and like your mom, I grew up with it. But I always thought 16 was a but young to be marched down the aisle..:) For everyone but Jerry Lee Lewis, that is…:)

  6. My pleasure. I totally get it.

    Well, not totally. I still don’t get the part some commenters are saying about the singer/narrator being so much older than the “calendar girl”. I can’t find that in there at all, and I have no idea where I’m missing it.

    To me it seems that they’re both young, with the singer maybe just a year or two older.

    Any enlightenment?

    1. Yes, I think it’s just an overlook, James. We’re just looking at who is singing the song rather than studying all the facts in the lyrics properly. Even I’m guilty. After your last comment, I thought about the lyrics for May and June when he says ‘gonna ask your mom and dad if I can take you to the junior prom.’ Until the last few years, we’ve never really done ‘proms’ in the UK. Now, they seem to be getting more and more popular here. And, to my understanding (and I may be wrong), you have to be in the same school year to go to a ‘prom,’ don’t you? So, that would have made them about the same age? And, even if I’m incorrect on that’ I’m sure mom and dad would have said ‘no’ if they felt things were not right.

      1. Ah yes. Good point. And I don’t think you have to be the identical age, but I do think you have to be very close in age.

        Isn’t it absolutely amazing the depth of discussions and observations and lessons that can be drawn from creative works? I think one of the signs of inspired writing is just how much can be gleaned from beneath the surface. Often more than the author ever intended!

  7. Cool memories, Hugh. One of my all-time favorites.

    I do gotta say though, that I’m with fyreglass. My opinion is also that the song is fine as it’s written and that the “March” down the aisle was an announcement of intention, declaration, and celebration rather than a single event in the timeline of a story.

    I think the confusion arises out of a misunderstanding of how to properly interpret the lyrics. Which, by the way, makes this song not only a lot of fun, but also a poster child for the importance of learning and practicing literary analysis in everything we read (or hear, for that matter) so we dont make logical errors in our interpretions. This makes the song even more iconic since proper interpretation is an important communication skill to exercise in ALL of our relationships!

    To wit, even with a close and objective evalauation, this song never raises even a hint at having an intent of being interepreted as a ballad, or even as a story. It is not intended as a sequence of events. The singer/narrator isn’t telling the STORY of their love. It is a DECLARATION of his love. A love that puts his heart in a whirl. Every day. Of every month. And thus, by exentension and inference, of every year. The only “time factor” evident is in using the months of the year as metaphors for significant events that have occurred in the course of their relationship.

    If the song were to be interpreted as a story, then their relationship only lasts a year or else they would be getting marrried every year, going to their junior prom every year, and turnig 16 every year! Oops! Impossibility alert!

    No, the song is simply highlighting the holidays and other significant events celebrated in each of the months of the year. A wedding anniversay in March. The anniversary of what may have been their first date in June. Her birthday in September. And so forth.

    Anyway. Thanks, Hugh, for this post. It was a lot of fun sleuthing and analyzing and it was cool how educational it turned out to be as to the “how to” and the “why need” of literary analysis.

    Happy Analyzing!

    1. Thanks so much for this, James. It just goes to show how differently all of our minds work when we try to analyze a situation. You’re so right in what you say, and I can now see how the song is a declaration of love over many years and not just one year. Although it’s been written very cleverly, my enjoyment of the song seems to have blurred what it really was about. I sometimes have the same problem after watching an excellent movie or TV drama. I usually go online to read other thoughts on what people thought has happened, and end up discovering that I’ve not always had all the pieces of the jigsaw in the right place. Thanks so much for putting me back on the right track.

  8. A real trip down the memory lane – I used to dance to this song! Neil Sedaka is the only artist I know of that had a top ten hit with the same song: Breaking Up is Hard to Do – 1962 and 1976!1

    1. Yes, you’re right Mary. I also thought about the song ABBA did entitled ‘Does Your Mother Know?’ I’ve seen the movie Mamma Mia so many times, yet it never crossed my mind until I started to question the story in Calendar Girl.

  9. Now you’ve landed in one of my favorite music decades. I absolutely love this song — always have! The part of the lyrics that I question is the lack of international appeal. The song’s lyrics are very specific to the US holidays and cultural themes. And you’re right about the mixed up order of events. Still a very fun song though!

    1. I agree, Donna. It’s a great fun song and I love the piano, the video, and Neil’s singing. Yes, maybe the events were mixed up in the story, but the comments have thrown up a lot more questions for me. I think I’ll just have to forget about them and carry on enjoying the song.

    1. I remember the stack of 45s, Terri. I think we were able to load six at a time, but sometimes the record being played would slide across of the record underneath it and we’d have to unload everything. One of my first jobs was selling styluses for record players. There were so many of them back in those days, and they had to be changed quite often to get the best quality sounds.
      I wonder how Neil feels about his song being changed to Calendar Cat? If he’s a cat lover, then I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Just love those commercials from the ’70s.

  10. I remember the song, I was just starting to notice music, thanks to daily dose of American Bandstand, which was on local Philly TV before it went national. 1961 notables for me “Traveling Man”, “Runaway”, “Runaround Sue”…notice a theme ? I was trying to get out of town, even as a child. Good choice, Hugh, even if he was trying to date/marry a very young “calendar girl”. Today, that would get him arrested in most states.

    1. Isn’t it such a sign of the times, Van? How the world changes and how human attitudes also change. My mother loved this song and, unlike me, I don’t think she ever questioned the story. But, I don’t remember anyone ever questioning it. And now, from all the comments, I have even more questions (such as was the song sung looking into the future or was the year about to end?). However, I think it better I just sit back and listen to the song, because I’ve always loved listening to Neil’s voice and it’s such a lovely song to listen to.

  11. Hi Hugh,
    I survived Irma with little damage to my home. My favorite palm tree (Fish Tail Palm) was over twenty feet and the two stalks broke from the one-hundred plus winds we experienced. I hope it will come back and sprout a new stalk.My oak tree lost several branches. We were without power for over 48 hours. Even now, we intermittent internet and cable services. Other than tired from sitting in the heat, we are fine. I am one of the fortunate ones, there are thousands that sit in this heat without power and thousands that do not have a home now. I pray for them all.
    Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl was from my earlier days and I remember it fondly. However, the mystery is something I don’t remember. Being in the music trade as you were, this is something you knew.

    1. I’m so pleased to hear from you, Chuck. I watched the situation unfold on TV. I can’t imagine what it must have been like. I’ve been in touch with a few other bloggers from Florida, all of whom are all safe. We British always like to complain about the weather but, other than in 1987 when the UK was hit by ‘The Big Storm,’ we don’t have anything like the type of weather you can experience in your part of the world. I hope everything is sorted out for you soon and that everyone in your part of the world can get back to their daily lives quickly.
      Take good care of yourselves.
      Hugs to you.

    1. I love Calendar Girl as well Judy, although I think I now have even more questions about the story the song tells after reading some of the comments. It’s strange how different one person can read something to how another person interprets it. Likewise, how situations can change over time. Thanks for the clip to that song. I know the song so well, but never even thought about the lyrics until I listened to the clip.

  12. He married her , before took her to her junior prom …. Older man with child bride.!
    Now I love Thank you by Alanis Morrisette but I can’t for the life of me work out who or what she is thanking! Amazing video.

    1. You could be right, Willow. But, not only that but she never turned sweet sixteen until September?

      I’ve never seen that Alanis Morrisette before. I found it rather creepy, although I enjoyed the song. No idea who she was thinking, though.

      1. Well, technically he only announced his INTENTION to marry her: “I’m gonna march you down the aisle”. Future tense. Is it that uncommon now for teenagers to declare that they intend to marry the person they’re infatuated with?

        But I definitely enjoyed the song – and the trip down memory lane!

        1. You’re so right. It also got me thinking as to when it was that the storyteller was telling this story. Was it at the beginning of the year? Then I look at January and the words ‘we start the year off fine’ and think has it already happened or is it what he thinks may happen? See, even more, questions. As for March, maybe he walks her down the aisle at somebody else’s wedding? As guests arrive, they walk down the aisle, don’t they? Yep, more questions. However, like you, I really love this song as it’s such a happy tune. Plus, Neil Sedaka is one of the best singers who has gifted us with his singing voice.
          Thanks so much for your comments.

    1. This was way before your time, Robbie, so I’m not surprised you’ve not heard it before. I only knew the song so well because my mother loved the song. Took me a long time to spot the mistake in the story Neil tells as he sings but, hopefully, the answer will be revealed in the comments over the coming week. If not, I’ll reveal it when I introduce next week’s song.

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