I have been putting off talking about this next song for several reasons - it's a complicated song, it's confusing, and it is Eugene's most controversial song - or it would be if anyone heard it.
The name of the song is They Were Twins.
This is one of Eugene's few story songs, - complete with characters and a plot.
Before I get into the details, I want to point out something about Eugene as a songwriter. He was not afraid to try things in his writing, and he did what writers do, he created characters and gave them words and actions that were not from his life. I point this out to emphasize that the events in this song were not even slightly autobiographical.
This song more than any of Eugene's other songs shows an attitude that is straight out of the 1950s outdated unenlightened sexist rape-culture which results in some real eyebrow-raising lines. If this song was released today, it would probably bring Eugene a lot of scorn for a couple of those lines.
When we first heard this song a group of us were not really sure what he was saying.
The basics of the story were obvious - sung in first person - he meets a girl, falls in love, but she has weird mood swings - where sometimes she's sweet and other times cruel, and in frustration during a cruel encounter he 'forces my love on her' (I think we call that date rape these days). She then gets pregnant.
The climax of the story is when he goes to tell her he will marry her and is stunned to find that there are not just one, but two - twins.
The problem with the way this song is written is that Eugene tries to lay out a complicated plot by throwing in important plot details with little warning or explanation, so that our understanding of the song was as a kind of morality tale where his actions resulted in unexpectedly being a parent to not just one child but two.
But there was this last line that did not make total sense.
I am not sure how many times we had to listen to this song to have that light bulb moment about what it's about, but when we did we felt like idiots - because it turns out this song is actually an evil twin story.
So the plot is really - he falls in love with the nice one, but would encounter her cruel sister, not knowing is was the other one, and thinks the girl has weird personality shifts, and finally rapes the cruel twin.
See here's where we were complete idiots, the line in the song is "two walked in - they were twins". Of course he was talking about the girlfriend.
Anyway, just to lessen the amount that the two most wince-ful lines make you wince - here they are:
"one night when she was being mean I forced my love on her."
"yes I took advantage, will justify with marriage"
So for anyone who wants to beat up on Eugene for these lines I want to point out that Eugene did not rape an evil twin, did not marry her because she was pregnant and people really did think like that at the time Eugene was writing and after all he died in 1977.
As I mentioned I hesitated to write about this song, but I knew I had to feature it eventually, because at least in terms of lyrics - it's just too interesting.