The Dark Side of the Boat

by Steve Horowitz

26 August 2010


The 1967 pop ditty, “C’mon Down to My Boat”, evokes sweetness and light. Every Mother’s Son seemed like good guys who just wanted to free a hard working girl from the clutches of her fisherman father. But lately, I’ve been wondering. The line, “Soon I’m gonna have to get my knife and cut that rope”—what does it really mean. The daughter is not literally tied to the dock. That would be too kinky. The more logical allusion is that the familial obligations keep the girl tied down. Therefore, what is Every Mother’s Son really gonna do with that knife? Do the lyrics suggest an act of violence? Does the sugary pop confection hide a darker meaning, and the singer is going to stab and kill the father so he can elope with the daughter? That may be reading too much into the lyrics, but the Summer of Love from which this song emerged soon turned into a more brutal era. Perhaps the clues were there all along, in innocent music like this.

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