At this time of year as the rain is pouring down, the days grow shorter and darker and my mind grows weary, I need music to lift my spirits. One of the songs I turn to is Sherry Darling.
Sherry Darling is a summer song in its character. There’s a “hot sun beating on the black top” and there’s beer and “girls melting on the beach”. The protagonist’s life could have been relaxed and carefree hadn’t it been for the ever-present mother of his girlfriend, who he has to drive around town. He complains about the mum’s feet, the fact that she won’t shut up and if she doesn’t he will kick her out of the car. The words in the song are directed towards the girl as he is close to his limit of what he would do for her.
Your Mamma’s yapping in the back seat. Tell her to push over and move them big feet. Every Monday morning I gotta drive her down to the unemployment agency
Sherry Darling is a fantasy, a dream of a relationship that is untouched by outside forces. There’s this idea that if the world would leave two people alone they could be happy, but relationships are never just about two people. Who can’t relate to annoying mothers (or mothers-in-law) or other family members, friends and exes (!) who affect your relationship. It’s like thinking about how great it would be to tell off your boss. You’re never going to do it, but sometimes it’s fun to think about it and laugh about it with friends.
When watching Springsteen and Little Steven goofing around in this clip from The Promise: the Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, one of the earliest recordings captured on tape, you can’t help but smiling. (The fun starts at time stamp 1:53)
Sherry Darling was written and recorded in a style called Frat Rock. Frat Rock is a genre that, first and foremost, was designed for the drunken party. This type of songs you can immediately sing along to, partially because the lyrics are obscure, but mostly because of the spirit and the energy of the songs. Frat Rock was very popular in the early ’60s, when local bands frequently played their favourite covers in parties at fraternity houses.
Well, I got some beer and the highway’s free, and I got you, and, baby, you’ve got me Hey, hey, hey! What you say, Sherry Darlin’
Sherry Darling was first intended for Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), but was left off and later released on the River (1980). It is a summer staple and performed live it is always a lot of fun. The crowd make party noises and sing along, especially the line “You can tell her there’s a hot sun beatin’ on the black top”, which they holler at the top of their lungs.
The song conveys a feeling of optimism and the confidence in the power of love. When obstacles in our everyday life sometimes beat us down, it’s nice to be reminded that you really don’t need much to be happy. Even though you may have a mother-in-law with big feet, if you’ve got the one you love, you can laugh and sing about it.
Which song would you recommend for lifting your spirits and getting you out of the autumn blues?