The Spittin’ Mama and the Nuthin’ MacGuffin

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 at 8:31 am

Lately, I’ve been hard at work writing lyrics for my next album. And writing always has its influences, especially when they’re geniuses.

Paul Simon is a genius. One of the best songwriters…I would say…ever.

Take Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.  This song sits proudly on my inspirational mantelpiece. I like to look at it while stoking the fires of my lyrical writing.

It’s such a fun song. Everyone knows the chorus and everyone sings along. We especially love belting out, “It was against the law. It was against the law. What the Mama saw. It was against the law!”

What did the Mama saw…er, see? What did she get an eyeful of that caused her such distress that her salivary glands poured forth and “spit on the ground every time my name gets mentioned”?

Nobody knows. Even Paul Simon doesn’t know. Read what he told Jon Landau of Rolling Stone magazine in 1972:

Landau: What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know.

Simon: I have no idea what it is… Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say ‘something’, I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn’t make any difference to me.

(Paul Simon = Like a boss.)

In movies, that’s called a MacGuffin. And a MacGuffin…is really nothing at all. It’s simply a prop that drives the story. Alfred Hitchcock is famous for using it. George Lucas called it, “The object of everyone’s search.” It’s the unknown content’s of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction and the vaguely defined mineral “unobtainium” in Avatar.

Safely nestled somewhere in my soon to be album is a little MacGuffin of my own …like a ninja bomb of lyrical mystery waiting to explode in your ear canals.

Writing this new album is a challenge and a journey. In the creative process a lot of “whys” and “whats” come up that never really get completely answered. I think back to “what Mama saw” and realize that maybe answering those questions are not as important as to where they drive me to…the object of my search. I guess that’s my MacGuffin.

I think each of us has our own MacGuffin…something we can’t define but yet drives us onward and upward, searching for what we hope to find. It is what we hang the plot of our life upon.

And in the meantime, we turn up the music and sing along while one of the great mysteries of life stays forever unanswered.


One Response to “The Spittin’ Mama and the Nuthin’ MacGuffin”

  1. Troy says:

    Now we know what UFO’s are. They’re celestial McGuffins!

Leave a Reply