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Casey's last ride - meaning?

DigiTrad:
HELP ME MAKE IT THRU THE NIGHT
JAN, CAROL AND WARREN
ME AND BOBBY MCGEE


Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Circle (Kris Kristofferson) (11)
Bobbie McGee's 'harpoon' (119)
Lyr/Chords Req: Casey's Last Ride (Kristofferson) (10)
Help: Me and Bobby McGee (40)
Add: Here Comes that Rainbow Again (Kristofferson) (8)
Lyr Req: Pilgrim (Chapter 33) (Kris Kristofferson) (12)
Lyr Req: Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kristofferson (7)
Kris Kristofferson's new CD (6)
Lyr Add: To Beat the Devil (Kris Kristofferson) (1)
Kris Kristofferson & 'the lady' (9)
Lyr/Chords Req: Me and Bobby McGee (12)
Kris Kristofferson ripped me off (12)
(origins) Origin: For the Good Times (Kristofferson) (14)
Kris Kristofferson-waitress give hobo change (2)


GUEST,Riley O'Neil 29 Jan 19 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 18 Sep 17 - 02:06 AM
Thompson 17 Sep 17 - 08:59 PM
GUEST 17 Sep 17 - 07:23 PM
GUEST,henryp 31 Jul 16 - 01:33 PM
GUEST 31 Jul 16 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Mrr 17 Feb 16 - 09:21 PM
GUEST,Postercowboy 17 Feb 16 - 03:59 PM
GUEST 29 Dec 15 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,henryp 05 Dec 15 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Grishka 05 Dec 15 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Paul Clarke 02 Dec 15 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Jesse Mccartney 01 Dec 15 - 11:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Sep 15 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Mississippi Gal 25 Sep 15 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Stewart 28 Aug 15 - 09:02 PM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Aug 15 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Grishka 12 Aug 15 - 11:03 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 15 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Aug 15 - 11:38 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Grishka 14 Jul 15 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Dave Illingworth 14 Jul 15 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,Grishka 14 Jul 15 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,KenD 14 Jul 15 - 07:48 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Jul 15 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,KenD 14 Jul 15 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Grishka 09 Dec 14 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Andy T 08 Dec 14 - 02:36 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Dec 14 - 01:48 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Dec 14 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,Andy T 08 Dec 14 - 08:40 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Dec 14 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Andy T 07 Dec 14 - 07:43 PM
GUEST 06 Dec 14 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,LaLobagirl 06 Dec 14 - 08:53 AM
Stewie 06 Nov 14 - 07:06 PM
GUEST,Andy T 06 Nov 14 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Andy T 06 Nov 14 - 11:45 AM
Stewie 06 Nov 14 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Andy T 05 Nov 14 - 10:56 PM
GUEST,Andy T 23 Oct 14 - 09:35 PM
Mrrzy 23 Oct 14 - 01:29 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 14 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Ryan Moore 24 Jun 14 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Joe Pineapples 10 Jan 14 - 06:13 AM
Phil Cooper 20 Sep 13 - 08:07 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Sep 13 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Sep 13 - 01:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Sep 13 - 11:50 AM
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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Riley O'Neil
Date: 29 Jan 19 - 02:55 AM

Its newly 2019 and I moved to Chicago to go to school. I was riding the subway in the dead of winter (-20f, the coldest in recent history), and this song comes on. The version was a johnny cash version on an extended album. Safe to say that the song sent shivers down my spine as the atmosphere and mood matched mine perfectly. This song is a poetic masterpiece and is deserving of more fame. However, the lowkey nature of this song almost makes it more meaningful to the few K.K. and Cash fans who sing it from time to time. Ive never heard a song with such concrete imagery, and I'm happy that there is a community that has once (and hopefully will continue) discussed it.

We may never know Kristofferson's original image when writing the song. However, we all know what the song means to us, and that is the true meaning as far as I'm concerned.

This song is a microcosm of mankind's predicament in the modern ages. Alienation and loneliness are common and that stays true even in today's tech infested times. The man K.K. sings about, is ridged and beat down, this toughness makes the soft love melody even more piercing.

Humans are wired to love, and even in destitution we resort to fragments of memories, however melancholy.

Cordially, Riley


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 18 Sep 17 - 02:06 AM

My guess:

Men define themselves by what they do for a living. The job is an escape mechanism from a world that makes little or no sense otherwise. It's medication.

Then comes the gold watch, the handshake and that "last ride" home. Tomorrow, and forevermore, he can sleep in late and nobody will care. Nobody ever really cared... including Casey.

The music changes everytime the old lover speaks. She never married, never had a family of her own… because she never stopped loving Casey. He used the affair to escape from his life as well and he's carrying the memory of that guilt and regret on top of all the rest.

This, and KK was a Lit major, makes me think of author Robert Ardrey's "Casey." A "real" working man shorn of the song's romanticism (...but based on same &c &c.)


PS: Didja know KK's first language was Tejano Tex-Mex? Shout out to his "Mom" Cantu and all the good folks in McAllen-Brownsville.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Thompson
Date: 17 Sep 17 - 08:59 PM

A song full of puns.

I heard Casey Jones called Casey's Last Ride in my youth. 'Ride' to an Irish person is a jokey term for sexual intercourse, that's one of the puns, drinking a pint of bitter(ness) is another, and so on.

If you like, it's a visit to the psychic underground, on his way to Hades; Casey has married (or stayed married to) the wrong woman and his former lover also still longs for him.

The mixture of Anglo and American usages may be Kristophersen's tin ear for exact dialogue; "to make a body smile" sounds Cockney to me, but perhaps not; following arrows through the subway to the turnstile sounds British, but perhaps not.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Sep 17 - 07:23 PM

Sounds to me like Casey visited his lover just before committing suicide.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 31 Jul 16 - 01:33 PM

Sarah Carson The Telegraph 22 JANUARY 2016 wrote;

"It was hard to believe, during Kris Kristofferson's sold-out evening at [London] Islington's Union Chapel, that the country singer-songwriter will turn 80 this year.

"Kristofferson's voice creaked with fragility here, as it did during "Casey's Last Ride" from his debut album from 1970, when he spoke of "neon-darkened corridors of silent desperation", describing the tragic reunion of former partners."

However, that may be the reporter's interpretation rather than the singer's.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jul 16 - 11:06 AM

Re. earlier discussion about is this song set in London or not. I just heard this song for the first time today and it was a live recording of KK. At the start he says "Here's a song I wrote in London about half a century ago". So I think it's pretty clear it is set in London.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 09:21 PM

Definitely bitter, definitely sad. I always thought it was the last time he went to see his old love, which is even sadder than seeing her. I think he's miserable but not suicidal - if he were, there would be some hope to the song. I always got the impression he was going to keep suffering, just not with the woman he's visiting.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Postercowboy
Date: 17 Feb 16 - 03:59 PM

Interesting to see this thread go on for years...

Here's my take: Casey is an addict, he's most unhappy with his life, in need of a drink, tense and easily upset. He's having a hard time making his way through life, feeling alienated to all the people around him, so he needs a lot of energy to concentrate on his way ('minds the arrows') while trying to block out any disturbances (the fatal echoes...) and especially the other people who 'rattle his chains', i.e. upset him, probably by their mere existence. This is not exactly about riding the underground, it's more like Casey's whole life feels like he's in a tunnel, with no way out. The 'turnstiles' are a probably a symbol for crossing a line, for the feeling of being trapped with no way back (or out).
He's obviously unhappy with his family life, but the encounter with an old lover does not do any good either. This encounter is most likely a fantasy, but he's so depressed, he can't even come up with a pleasant fantasy anymore. Casey wishes nothing more than to end it all, finally taking the 'last ride', as in committing suicide. Let's keep in mind he's a loser and a drunk, so he's most likely unable to put an end to things.

Does this make any sense to you?


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 11:14 PM

So... rattle of his chains has to be a reference to him feeling trapped by his family. Also the Last Ride is what makes it interesting. As someone who had only heard Kris do the song previously i think it's up to the singer and the listener to understand. To me when Kris sings the song it's a night on its way to a grisly suicide. When John Denver sings it, the man has resolved to stop cheating on his wife, said goodbye to an old lover, and hopes to be a better father and husband.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 05 Dec 15 - 08:12 PM

I hear the words;

"But Casey minds the arrows and ignores the fatal echoes
Of the clicking of the turnstiles and the rattle of his chains"

In that case, the chains belong to Casey, not the Underground.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 05 Dec 15 - 07:14 PM

The idea behind the "change" theory is that the word is often used synonymously for "coins". But we dismissed that theory, basically because KK can be clearly heard and seen on YouTube singing "chains".

Now, those "chains pulled across by platform staff" - that is the sort of explanation I was looking for, if Londoners can positively assure that they existed in the Tube in KK's time. How exactly did they work? Did they replace the doors? Hard to imagine. I remember trams without doors, but underground??


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Paul Clarke
Date: 02 Dec 15 - 11:27 AM

"In the 19th century, kids of both genders wore stockings, and about the middle of the century they started hanging them by the chimney on Christmas eve. As late as 1944, a young Swedish girl named Pippi could wear long stockings without anyone assuming they were made of sheer nylon".
Back in the 18th Century, the term "bluestocking" was a denigratory description of women of intellect (the days when men didn't know women had any… ). So women definitely wore the all the way back then.

I'm not sure how authentic Joe's transcription is: the first half of verse 2 has, in the version I first heard (c.1972 by Shep Woolley, ex-submariner/sailor, originally from Tamworth, north of Birmingham, England), the lyric "who stoop and grab at anything, to keep from going home". Not sure which is the earlier, thus if this is a bit of folk-processing. I seem to recall he sings "the rattle of the chains", which I'd always assumed to be the chains pulled across by platform staff (yes, there WERE some back then!!) to stop late arrivals rushing a train stopped at the platform, to minimize accidents. You might interpret this as Casey being just about to miss a train he'd wish to catch, a metaphorical echo of his put-upon existence. There always used to be a lot of clanking sounds like that (escalators, as someone has mooted on here already) on the Tube when I travelled on it in the 70s.

Back then, the turnstiles wouldn't have given change: that interpretation is from a post-Millennium perspective of self-service ticket machines, Oyster cards, etc.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Jesse Mccartney
Date: 01 Dec 15 - 11:33 PM

Its seems that when he is saying the rattle of his chains it should be Casey minds the arrows and ignores the fatal echoes of the clicking of the turnstile and the rattle of its change. Seeing that he is describing arrows for direction and the fatal echoes of the turnstile machine itself when you go through it is clicking as it changes. Another gent said it could be chains on him but i don't think you would hear them on yourself or describe them as it is done here. Just a thought but could it be that Kris just never bothered to correct it after all these years. Guess it really doesn't matter its still one of his best and hope Kris is around for a good long time yet. Cheers


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Sep 15 - 05:30 PM

Interesting to see this old thread again, and see how it had explored other ways of reading the song. Or rather, extra ways. I don't think there is only one way of understanding a song, even the plot of a song.

I like the idea of it's being his old mother he's visiting, and it makes sense - stockings can just as easily mean warm woolen stockings as nylons - if it is long enough to cover the knees, I'd call it a stocking, either on a man or woman, if it isn't long enough, I'd call it a sock, man or woman. That might be my generation talking.

"Just a kiss to make a body smile" sounds very much like on old lady of a previous generation", perhaps particularly so if Irish. "So blessed good to feel your body" maybe less so, but quite possible, and no need to take it as meaning anything innappropriate.

It doesn't really alter too much either way. He's been saying goodbye to someone he doesn't expect to see again, and he's feeling his life is on a downward spiral. Haven't we all felt like that sometimes?


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Mississippi Gal
Date: 25 Sep 15 - 05:22 PM

I was excited today to come across these threads. I thought I was the only one who was fixated on "Casey's Last Ride." In 1971 when I was in Houston where my 50 year old father was in a coma for 6 weeks following a massive stroke, my mother and I listened to WaylonJennings sing this time after time trying to understand it. I even wrote to Kris Kristofferson asking what the meaning was but never heard from him.
It haunts me yet!


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Stewart
Date: 28 Aug 15 - 09:02 PM

I love Kristofferson. I think he's one of America's best songwriters and poets. I write working class poems. I'm surprised to see so many trying to find an exact meaning in the song. Most songs and poems come from a feeling or a first line or two and go from there. They tumble from different experiences. Often the words are used because they rhyme or fit. It ain't journalism. Kris' best album is Third World Warrior. He's a strong progressive, and he represents the best of American musical and literary art.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 10:40 AM

Guest, it's not Casey who doesn't have a job, it's the singer.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 11:03 AM

Interesting new aspects, GUERT and leeneia. Was that irony, or can you elaborate?

A drug trip is the usual explanation for apparently meaningless song lyrics such as "Lucy in the Sky". But KK does give us many good clues, most of which we managed to explain without guesswork. In fact, beer is a potent drug which can kill a man with or without help of external forces.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 04:10 PM

There is nothing that could have told us about he is missing a job. Even between the lines. Just a man who is on a way to be completely broken...


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 11:38 AM

I don't think so. It's a freeloader's song. If songs today had the the long, long titles that books used to have, the title of 'Casey's Last Ride' would be:

CASEY'S LAST RIDE, a Song in which the Working Man is Shown to be a Hapless, Victimized Wage Slave OR

Why I don't have a Job and Prefer to Live off My Girlfriend.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM

Everybody got the meaning wrong. The titles of a song says it all - Casey's Last Ride. Emphasis on LAST. This is a bitter and sad song about drug abuse, guys. Get it straight.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 10:43 AM

OK, Dave: write down your interpretation, then read the thread, and then decide what to post.

A full explanation of lyrics is not always required, but if one exists (preferably based on facts or first-hand testimony), we'd like to know it. Valuable testimony can also come from people who are familiar with popular (though possibly "incorrect") interpretations of the song. For example, if there is a line "heave away, you ruler king", we want to know not only that it is corrupted, but also the thoughts of those who sang it that way: which king? "Who was Lady Mondegreen?"


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Dave Illingworth
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 09:50 AM

I loved the song the first time I heard it on Peter Rowan's LP
"The Walls Of Time" (1982). Excellent version. I was pretty sure I knew what it was all about then and still am. Please don't start confusing me.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 08:50 AM

Ken, interesting aspects. The meeting need not have taken place directly before the Golden Crown scene, but may well be a distant memory. "Last ride" referring to sex long ago, or to both scenes as a double entendre? Possible, but not too convincing.

What seems clear to me from the last verse is that at that time
a) the lady is lonely and quite willing to revive the old relationship that started before Casey's marriage
b) Casey has a family of his own, i.e. a wife and at least one child,
c) Casey visits her, but - sex or not - is obviously not enjoying himself (- why else would she desperately try to encourage him, even appealing for his pity?). Bad conscience, or lost erotic interest, or probably both. Therefore, the encounter cannot compare all that positively to his marital life.

We still need good explanations of the title, the "chain" (physical metaphor), and the "stumbling" etc.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,KenD
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 07:48 AM

In the UK, nylon stockings are usually called "stockings" not nylons. As in our love of ladies in "stockings and suspenders" which would probably be called "nylons and garter belt" in the US. We NEVER call women's stockings socks, and we don't call socks stockings either except for those that come to just below the knee. I am NOT elderly, but I am English.
A lady wearing stockings instead of tights (pantyhose in the US) would be a very good way to get a man excited.
Unless Casey had a very peculiar relationship with his mother, this song is about a man remembering the last woman he made love to. He would find it difficult to be turned on by his wife afterwards as he would always be comparing her to this much sexier girl and this would adversely affect his marriage.
The reference to "a family of your own" may well be because the woman is a married woman with a family who has had an affair with Casey, which would go a long way to explain why he cannot be with her and why she is willing to see him in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 07:47 AM

Nice to see this pop up again and thanks, Ken D, that certainly fits all the sentiments expressed in the song.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,KenD
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 07:08 AM

This is definitely set in England. Casey is likely to be an Irishman as Casey is an Irish name, and there is a massive Irish community living in North London, although he could have lived in the US. Many Irish work in building and road construction here. The reference to the Golden Crown pub, Underground and to Bitter are a dead give away. American Emmy Lou Harris is so unfamiliar with the concept of bitter beer she sings it as "bitters". The use of subway is correct for the UK as the Underground is the generic name for the railway, but the passageways under the roads that lead to the stations are called subways here.
The last ride refers to the girl Casey is thinking about. He remembers how she welcomed him and still wanted him. He is regretting choosing somebody else instead of her and is now locked into a sour, loveless, non physical marriage but his children prevent him from leaving. Where the girl is located could be Ireland, the US or even in London.
He is thinking about the last time he spent with her and has not had a "ride" since. The ride he is thinking about has a double meaning - the trip to visit her and what happened when he did!
I think Emmy Lou understands this and she identifies very much with the woman in her version, which is probably why she covered the song and added the extra "I suppose you seldom think about me" and the "it's so good to feel your body" lines to express the woman's feelings. Sadly, Casey is trapped and can only reminisce over his beer.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 09 Dec 14 - 10:59 AM

Nylons or not, she "put on new stockings just to please" Casey. Two other passages refer even more directly to a physical/erotic attitude: "just a kiss to make a body smile" and "Still, she said, it's so blessed good to feel your body". If it is the mother, she is either demented or incestuous, by English standards.

The strongest argument in favour of the mother theory is the line "now that you've a family of your own", suggesting that formerly both were members of the same family (could be brother and sister, though).

Whatever the relation, Casey is not pleased, but more depressed than before. The family of his own is in fact no longer in function, probably by divorce, without the lady's knowledge, and probably without Casey informing her of her error (as he would have done if he considered reviving an old friendship).

The song being so well-known for a long time, KK must have been asked about its meaning. I guess his answers will one day surface to the Internet, if it has not already.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 08 Dec 14 - 02:36 PM

M, how kind of you to contribute despite your lack of interest in the subject. It was very helpful.

And thank you for correcting my misunderstanding about Mudcat demographics. Who knew?

But if there's one olde Englishman, perhaps there are others, and perhaps one of them will have the answer to my question about stockings. And my earlier question about the Golden Crown pub that was mentioned in the song and by Breezy above.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Dec 14 - 01:48 PM

... tho, looking back, I did get a bit interested about 3½ years ago [May 2011] in whether Londoners ever call The Tube the Subway; but can't quite remember why...


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Dec 14 - 09:23 AM

Dunno. Don't find the topic of this thread of remotest interest & haven't really read the lyric. Just replying to your silly comment about there being no elderly English about these parts; & endeavouring to enlighten your darkness as to English hosiery usage.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 08 Dec 14 - 08:40 AM

How does that affect the line "I've put on new stockings just to please you"?

Does it have to be a pathetic attempt by an old girlfriend or hooker to give Casey a rise, as it would in the US?

Or could it be Casey's mother pointing out that she's not wearing the same dirty old socks that he complained about during a previous visit to the nursing home?


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Dec 14 - 05:38 AM

"there aren't any elderly English people on Mudcat."
.,,.

I'm 82. How elderlier do you want?

I have called them nothing but socks all my long life; in my family, stockings were something women wore. But have been aware that some people called them 'stockings', as in Richmal Crompton as you wrote; and team colours as shown on soccer match programmes would sometimes say stockings, sometimes socks; and some fellow schoolboys would refer to their stockings, which I always found a bit funny.

So my impression is that, idiomatically, stockings and socks were interchangeable for men's/boys' foot & lower-leg garments, tho I think socks much more common; but the ladies' pre-tights garments, up to the thighs and suspended or elastic-topped, were only called stockings.

Hope that helps.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 07 Dec 14 - 07:43 PM

Intrigued by Bill's suggestion that the woman in the chorus is Casey's mother in a nursing home, but troubled by the use of the word "stockings," I did some research to try to figure out what that word might have meant to a woman who was living in a nursing home in England in 1960. It's a shame there aren't any elderly English people on Mudcat. They would be able to answer this question quite easily.

My research revealed that women didn't have legs until the 1920's. Before that, stockings were more of a men's garment, as many references attest, going back at least to Shakespeare -- Hamlet had his stockings fouled, and Malvolio wore cross-garter'd yellow stockings.

In the 19th century, kids of both genders wore stockings, and about the middle of the century they started hanging them by the chimney on Christmas eve. As late as 1944, a young Swedish girl named Pippi could wear long stockings without anyone assuming they were made of sheer nylon.

Stockings were commonly worn by soldiers and athletes, along with their knickerbockers, kilts, and lederhosen. Long stockings are useful in rural settings as protection from biting insects such as chiggers, especially if you put powdered sulfur in them. And in winter the combination of long stockings and short trousers provides warmth without hampering maneuverability.

American baseball teams stopped being called the Red or White or Brown Stockings around the turn of the century, opting instead for Sox (using a spelling system touted by Teddy Roosevelt); but baseball players continued to wear stockings. So when American women sprouted legs it would have been natural to put stockings on them, though of course, being women, they would have wanted the skin exposed, which was accomplished by making them of diaphanous silk and, from 1940 on, nylon.

Once stockings became a feminine sex symbol, American men switched to wearing only socks, no matter how far up the calf they went and whether they were exposed or covered by other clothes. But several references suggest that English men continued to wear stockings after the 1920's; so the things that women wore on their seemingly naked exposed legs may have been called something else in England. And in fact I have a vague memory from when I was there in 1972 that what we called stockings they called tights at that time, though I could be mistaken about that.

An article in History and Anthropology magazine, volume 22, issue 1, says that British anthropologist Beatrice Blackwood (1889-1975) wrote this about her mentor Bronislaw Malinowski in a 1930 field journal:
I wonder how much time Malinowski used up on household and domestic jobs—Did he ever darn his stockings? He seems to have lived in a tent.

English writer Enid Blyton (1897-1968) published a story in Sunny Stories for Little Folks magazine, No.175, Oct 1933, called "Holes in His Stockings."

Both of those women were contemporaries of Casey's mother, and they and she might have continued to say stockings when they meant socks on into their dotage even if the world around them had begun to give it a different meaning. But here's one from 1954:

Lord of the Flies, by English writer William Golding (1911-1993), published in 1954, chapter 1, 4th paragraph:
The fair boy stopped and jerked his stockings with an automatic gesture that made the jungle seem for a moment like the Home Counties.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 14 - 01:28 PM

I just read (here) that when Kristofferson was performing in England, at the time that he wrote this song, he was billed as Kris Carson. So he was K.C. And he named his next child Casey. FWIW.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,LaLobagirl
Date: 06 Dec 14 - 08:53 AM

I have just heard "Casey's Last Ride" sung by John Denver for the very first time. It touched the very core of my soul with a cold finger and an icy shiver went straight down my back. Oh John, I REALLY miss you. The width and breadth of your talent was limitless. Incredible interpretation.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 07:06 PM

Thanks, Andy. Another fine recording - it's a pity that is all there is.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 05:52 PM

Breezy said the Golden Crown was a pub near Victoria Station, but I can't find any mention of it on the internet. In fact, I can't find any Golden Crown pubs anywhere. Just a fried chicken/car rental place, which seems like an interesting combination; but that's in a different part of London. And they probably don't sell beer, since they're renting cars. And maybe it's not likely to have been in operation in 1960. By appointment to her majesty, purveyors of fried chicken and automobile rental agents?

Can any of you Brits tell us anything about a Golden Crown pub near Victoria Station, or anywhere else in England, circa 1960?


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 11:45 AM

Stewie, I did find one other Dorothy Hamm recording, of a song that she wrote called John Bridges, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-KqiaBTb-Y. But nothing else except Pagan Maestro's comment that she's been a music writer and publicist most of her life. I'd really like to hear more of her singing.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Stewie
Date: 06 Nov 14 - 09:02 AM

Andy T, many thanks for referencing the Dorothy Hamm recording. It is indeed first rate.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 05 Nov 14 - 10:56 PM

This is a great thread if you read the whole thing.

Before I read it I was puzzled by what I thought was a mix of British and American terms. I thought "subway" was only American. But Michael pointed out that in England a subway can be part of a tube station, a subterranean passageway that you might very well pass through between the stair and the turnstile, so it fits in perfectly.

I like Bill's suggestion that the woman in the chorus is Casey's mother in a nursing home. The chorus lyrics make more sense that way, particularly the line "now that you've a family of your own."

The only problem with Bill's idea, to an American ear, is Casey's mother putting on new stockings to please him. But perhaps in England in 1960 stockings didn't have a sexual connotation? Perhaps she's always dressed in a bathrobe and slippers and socks, as are many nursing home residents, and on a previous visit he said something about her socks being old, maybe suggesting that he could buy her new ones.

If the stockings are the same thing that we think of in 2014 America (after years of seeing hosiery advertisements showing young women in sexy poses with their stockinged legs completely exposed) then the woman must be an old flame or a hooker, and the fact that her way of looking attractive to him is to wear new stockings is sad. But the whole tone of the song is melancholy, so it fits in well.

Other than that, the only thing that's mysterious is the word "chain," as several people have pointed out. The song doesn't give us any clue as to what "his chain" is, and if it's a metaphor it doesn't fit in very well. I would be inclined to regard it as an unfortunate re-write, and sing "his train" instead, as Al suggested.

Casey went up to London and visited someone, perhaps his mother, and now he's riding the tube back to Victoria station, and as he has a little time before his train and is saddened by the whole trip he stops for a drink. He hadn't seen her for a long time before that, so if he's decided not to make this trip again it should come as no surprise.

A few things not mentioned previously: Kristofferson was at Oxford between 1958 and 1960, and was stationed in Germany in the early 1960's. The song was on his first album, released in 1970. His son born in 1973 by Rita Coolidge was named Casey.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Andy T
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 09:35 PM

That Dorothy Hamm recording of this song is incredible! But aside from that one YouTube video, she doesn't seem to exist. Does anyone know anything about her?


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Oct 14 - 01:29 PM

Oh, I think the mistress he sees on his way home is real, and he hates her just as much as his wife and his job and his drinking.

This is a tremendously depressing song. I love it.

I always figured it was his "last ride" because this was the last time he was going to see his mistress, either because of that family of his own but probably not, more likely because he was going to fall under the next subway train be could.

I think only the title hints at suicide; the song is about being a miserable man, and a poor sad woman trying so hard to cheer him up.

I am weeping as I type. What a great song.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 14 - 02:30 PM

The ride of the title suggests both a sexual and literal sense of the word. I have no doubt about that. In the literal sense I believe the song hints at suicide though it's not made explicit in the lyrics.
The despair in this song is palpable. June Tabor and Dorothy Hamm best captured the essence of this song. I love Waylon but I feel like he's off the mark with this one.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Ryan Moore
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 09:24 AM

This is about a man who feels chained to his everyday, mundane life. The poison air of the subway that never sees the sun nor feels the rain is a metaphor for his life, which is devoid of passion, freedom and love. He tries to recapture the spirit of a long-lost flame, but what he really wants is his freedom back, to be rid of the rattle of his chains. When he sees her, she is willing and welcoming, and does her utmost to please him, but he realises that although he could have her, he's already lost his spirit and soul, his freedom, and therefore won't ever ride that horse/train again. So he has a beer and resigns himself to the company of men just like him, walking the rut in a crowd just like him.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Joe Pineapples
Date: 10 Jan 14 - 06:13 AM

I think Paulus has it dead on.

The hint is in the title...

Casey is heading home after being with his lover. He has decided that is the last time he will see her and on the trip home, he stops off at the pub... can't face going home to his wife and children... the sadness of resigning himself to the life 'a family of your own'.

The 'choruses' of the woman is him thinking back to her, the things she said to him in that last meeting. She knows he is unhappy in this life and wants him to stay with her 'Casey it's so sad to be alone' but he has made his decision.

Such an amazing song.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 20 Sep 13 - 08:07 AM

It may have been posted earlier, but Kristofferson was a rhodes scholar and spent time in Britain.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 01:52 PM

"Casey's Last Ride" is confusing to most of us in North America who immediately think of the story and song "Casey Jones" (in the DT) and the train wreck described in the article linked by Guest 17 Sept 11, in which the engineer, Casey Jones, died.

I was unaware of the Kristopherson song until I found it here, posted by Joe.

Subway, to Americans, = Underground (most in UK). "Pint of bitter, and later reference to "underground" would set the song in UK.
In the Wikipedia article, Kristopherson is identified as an American country music singer, songwriter, musician, etc.

I would guess Kristopherson took the name Casey from the song about Casey Jones, and last ride (as it does in cowboy as well as RR parlance, means he kicked the bucket.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 01:24 PM

When this was discussed more than two years ago (yes, time flies), I read on an official website that only 30% of all suicide attempts on the London Underground rails are successful - notably including those involving trains. That Polish tourist seems to have been of remarkable marksmanship. Not all survivors are likely to be at excellent health, though.

Anyway, KK's fictional Casey seems to have been among those 30%, half deliberately, half by accident / drunkenness / carelessness.


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Subject: RE: Casey's last ride - meaning?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 11:50 AM

Being run over by a train is quite bad for the health too. And your chances of climbing back on the platform after an encounter with the live rail in the London Tube aren't too great.


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