To state the obvious, at first blush (pun intended) this is a song about sex. Apples and sex have been sidekicks since the Book of Genesis. Oscar Wilde is widely credited for saying “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex.” The fact that he probably never said that doesn’t make it any less true. So, yes, this is a song about sex. ..But that’s not all it’s about.
This Karo syrup rom-com story is also about longing for something missing, something lost. Neither of the characters in the story started off as country bumpkins. But it was something they each had a hankering for; to leave the city and live a simpler, less hectic life. This romanticizing of “getting back to the land” has been around for quite a while. It has roots at least as old as the Industrial Revolution and the Romantic Era of the 19th Century. That may sound a little academic, but I like to remember the roots of these old ideas that are still around today.
In my lifetime, the romantic notion of getting back to the land was part of my formative hippy years. I caught the tail end of the Woodstock generation, and completely bought into the notion that “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” I spent the 60’s and early 70’s growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. My father laid concrete. You ever wonder who paved paradise and put up a parking lot? That was my dad.
In retrospect, it would be easy to dismiss all that early Farmer John longing as the stuff of pure fantasy. Did I really want to trade all my suburban comforts for some hard scrabble life on the farm? Hardly. The communal part sounded kinda cool but the TV reception outside the city limits was worrisome. So leave the ax in the shed Pepino. I’ll drive to the store and buy my squeaky clean, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and then come home and watch Green Acres, thank you very much.
But fantasy or not, that longing for another time manifested itself in some very real ways. It fueled a lot of the things that I love: the historical fiction that I read, the places that I travel to, the folk music that I listen to and emulate. Much of the roots, Americana infused songs that I write attempt to harken back to some romanticized “olden days”. In the artificial, commercialized Leave-It-To-Beaver fantasy of my boomer generation, something was missing. We had lost something. So we traded in one fantasy for another. Perhaps in hopes of salvaging some of the simpler pleasures in life; some of that authenticity.
So in the end, the two lovers slathered in Applesauce find love, family, community and fulfillment in the orchards of Sebastopol. Ain’t that delicious? So sweet it makes my teeth hurt~