*5.26-ITCHYCOO PARK (Small Faces)

Small Faces


Over the Bridge of Sighs
To rest my eyes in shades of green
Under dreaming spires
To Itchycoo Park, that's where I've been.

     What did you do there? - I got high.
     What did you feel there? - Well I cried!
     But why the tears there? - I'll tell you why--

          It's all too beautiful. (4x)

               I feel inclined to blow my mind
               Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun.
               They all come out to groove about
               Be nice and have fun in the sun.

I'll tell you what I'll do - What will you do?
I'd like to go there now with you.
You can miss out school - Won't that be cool?
Why go to learn the words of fools?

     What will we do there? - We'll get high.
     What will we touch there? - We'll touch the sky!
     But why the tears there? I'll tell you why--


               [Repeat C section]

          [Chorus (11x)]

I found this from an uncredited source in Wikipedia: “Although many devices were soon created that could produce [flanging] by purely electronic means, the effect as used on Itchycoo Park was at that time an electro-mechanical studio process [developed by engineer George Chkiantz]. Two synchronized tape copies of a finished recording were played simultaneously into a third master recorder, and by manually retarding the rotation of one of the two tape reels using the fingers, a skilled engineer could subtly manipulate the phase difference between the two sources, creating the lush 'swooshing' phase effect that sweeps up and down the frequency range.” According to Wikipedia, Itchycoo Park is the first song using flanging to be a hit on the pop charts. The technique is used for the drum bridges after the C sections and in the chorus fade out.

The inspiration of Itchycoo Park is said to be childhood memories, joining in the Wordsworth lineage of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. Though there was no park by that name, Wikipedia reports that the hairy seeds from the Rose hip (or wild Dog Rose) were called "Itchycoos" by English children in the 1950s. The seeds would be broken out of the berry by children and dropped down someone's collar between shirt and back to cause itching. The name suggests brambles, and it suggests coochie-coo that could lead to an infestation of lice. This is not a song of childhood innocence. The singer is playing the tempter, inviting a teenage listener to skip school to hang out in the park and get high. I’ve heard that Itchycoo Park was banned when it came out in Britain as promoting drugs, but somehow the argument won out that “getting high”, such as “getting high on life” didn’t necessarily imply the use of contraband, and the song was returned to the radio. When it reached the U.S. “getting high” evidently wasn’t a censuring issue.

The park seems to be a wild place on the edge of a highly cultured area, such as a college campus, a place with a lovely view. The song captures the overwhelming response of someone rushing with overstimulation from the onslaught of LSD enhanced perception. “It’s all too beautiful!” are precisely the words spoken on an acid trip when one is moved to tears by the beauty of the environment. The exclamation is similar to that of the Young Rascals, in a contemporary U.S. single, It’s Wonderful! And the questions and responses of the lyric reminds the listener that we are still under the influence of Sgt. Pepper, recalling, as it does, a similar lyrical construct in A Little Help From My Friends. However, this experience is not presented as enlightenment, as the Beatles had done, but rather as goofing off and enjoying freedom from constraints. Itchycoo suggests that the experience is a bit seedy, maybe with ulterior (and possibly unhealthy) sexual motives. I have one problem in understanding the lyric: it appears that in Itchycoo Park getting “hung up” is a good thing, when I have always assumed the opposite. “Hung up” in American English seems like getting “hairy seeds” that have got a grip on you. Or is “hung up” in British English just a variation of “hang out”?