See How They Run

This might well come under the category (not created) “Revelations.” Not as in spiritual revelations, but those insights you get out of the blue, without searching for them.

Enough preamble. I was doing some computer work today and listening to The Beatles, including “Lady Madonna.” When it got to the line: “Thursday night your stockings needed mending. See how they run!” I understood, for the first time, the joke. Stockings. Mending. Running? Get it?

Maybe you got that one a long time ago. Maybe everybody in the world knew about it except me. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence and there’s no joke about stockings running, but I don’t think so. The cool thing is that the joke was always there, at least since 1968, trapped within the grooves of a record or the magnetized particles of a tape or the whatever’s on a CD or, sometimes, in the buzzing of radio waves. There to be discovered.

Of course, this is like the Alphabet song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” being based on the same melody (which I realized about 7 years ago). Or any number of other small connections waiting to be made. They’re much better when you discover them yourself, out of the blue, but they’re still cool when somebody points them out to you.

PatrickConnections03/13/03 8 comments


Dad • 03/13/03 6:23 PM:

I noticed that one a long time ago; probably sometime after I realized it was the Beatles singing that song. When I first heard it, I loved it immediately, but was so out of touch with music and the Beatles that I didn’t realize it was them. I would hear parts of the song on the radio without ever hearing who the group was. In fact, I think the song went through the full cycle of introduction, climbing the charts to the top (I’m not sure it ever it #1), decline, oblivion before I knew it was the Beatles. Much later I heard the song again, maybe on an “oldies” station, and sometime thereafter “got” the stocking/running connection. (During that same period, I also have a strong memory of hearing a fantastic version of Tax Man sung by a group other than the Beatles. Still haven’t figured that one out.)

Of course, the play-on-words depends on your knowing that the progressivly growing snag in a “nylon” stocking is called a run. Nowadays, stockings don’t run like they used to, because they are made in a way that arrests runs before they extend the whole length of the stocking. In my mother’s day, before panty hose, stockings “ran” much more easily and were usually ruined when they did. (Maybe fingernail polish could be used to stop a run, I’m not sure.)

So there it is. Once you call a stocking snag a “run” (which is apt because of the way it progresses) you create the opportunity for the play-on-words the Beatles used. Interesting how, “Run your hose” could apply to secretaries or firemen equally well.

Patrick • 03/14/03 10:10 PM:

Dad, I love you, but sometimes you disillusion me. Man, I think if I were alive when the Beatles were releasing albums, I’d be camping outside the record store the night before the release. And if a song got by me, I’d hear it on the radio and just KNOW it was the Beatles. When did you become a Beatles fan? I’m sorry, but I’ve always been a little obsessive about the bands I like: calling up record companies to get pre-release tapes and press releases, collecting bootlegs and unreleased stuff (at one point, I swear, I had more King’s X rarities than anyone not in the band or personally related to them), reading the books they write, etc. I’ve often said, and I’ll say it again, that after you, Dad, the mortal who has most influenced my conscious thought and actions is Neil Peart. Hands down. No doubt about it. This will be an essay some day.

I love you anyway, but you’ll have to make this up to me by practicing your Beatles lyrics so we can sing when next we see each other.

Dan • 03/15/03 12:59 AM:

pat, have you forgotten that our father has fought in a war? and, like, he was probably in vietnam when lady madonna was released? cut the veteran some slack.

dad, i forgive you for not being a freakman like pat and stalking your favorite bands. the mortal who has most influenced my conscious thought and actions is (hands-down) ringo starr.

and by the way, how does one post pictures?

Patrick • 03/15/03 10:29 AM:

Dan, you’re just using the opportunity to criticize me. That’s fine, but you, too, know that you were surprised that Dad didn’t realize automatically that he was hearing the Beatles. And, more importantly, you didn’t say whether you had already figured out the stockings/run joke before now. Did you?

Dan • 03/15/03 10:38 AM:

i don’t think i ever realized the stockings/run joke. but i think i may have a while back. who knows.

i am not using this opportunity to criticize you. lady madonna doesn’t exactly sound like a beatles song. paul does his low voice (which i thought was ringo starr when i was growing up) and it doesn’t sound like paul.

and i figured i had to make up some mortal inspirer because you did.

i am not angry at you for criticizing my questions. i wish more people would do the same.

David • 03/15/03 6:30 PM:

Settle down boyz,

I would have to say a few things - I didn’t get the joke until Pat just informed me. Thanks. I’ve had lots of those experiences, I’ll try to think of some and write back. I’d also like to tell everybody that the mortal who has influenced me most outside my family (that being the people reading this) has got to be Maurice Gibb. Without a doubt.

Now I will take this ‘opportunity’ to criticize some people. Pat, I love Neil Peart, but come on, isn’t that a bit drastic? He’s your #2 guy? I still can’t wait to read the essay on it. I would definitely say he has had the biggest percussional influence on me. Add to that musical lyric writing too. Dan, your big toe is ugly.

Gina really liked the ‘See How They Run’ post. Good work by all.

Patrick • 03/16/03 9:38 PM:

I’m not actually mad or anything, and I probably overdid the language describing my disappointment with Dad, but I am serious about Neil Peart’s huge influence on me. And I will write that essay some day.

Dad • 01/02/04 1:57 PM:

Wait, Tax Man wasn’t the Beatles song I heard sung by another group! It was Drive My Car! I’m just reviewing the Connetions category, and ran across this entry and noticed my comment was wrong. I haven’t done an extensive search, but I’m starting to doubt that Drive My Car was done by another group back then, but my memory of hearing a different (and better) verion before hearing the Beatles version is still vivid.

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