The title of this song makes a double impression on anyone familiar with the English language. On the one hand, it translates as “The Song of the Rubber Dolly,” the favorite of the little girl who loves to babysit, instruct, scold, and praise her many toy “babies. And at the same time to invent their simple biographies, funny and naive conversations, in short, to give their favorite toys a mysterious and attractive, safely hidden from the eyes of serious adults. A song with such a name can be safely taught to an innocent child, without fear that the simple-minded child will pick up there “adult” passions and “dirty” thoughts.
On the other hand, people sophisticated in a variety of vices of the twenty-first century are well aware that the love of rubber dolls of certain brands is peculiar not only to little girls, but also to adult boys. And these “games” are not something that can be shown to children at all. So what is this song by Woody Guthrie, a famous folk and country singer who lived in the first half of the 20th century, a great guy, a 100% American and a father of many children about? Let’s try to figure it out!
The plot of the song “Rubber dolly song”
The protagonist of this song is a mischievous girl, or rather a teenage girl, resourceful and sly. Judging by her gripes, she recently parted with her favorite toys, put her dolls on the top shelf of the closet and threw the bouncer and ball in the closet. And yet, her mother has no idea that her daughter has grown up, even though she has long equaled her mother’s height and wears high-heeled shoes instead of children’s sandals. After all, the girl still turns to her mother with naive childish requests – then with a request to give her a rubber doll, then a request to buy a bunch of candy. But if Mom finds out that her daughter already has a boyfriend, she scolds her and probably bans her at home, so that the girl did not dare to run to the movies and dances, and kiss during a session with his boyfriend. And of course, no gift is out of the question. So the daughter will scramble until her mother is too old to accept the truth.
This song was written in the old America, which did not know modern buzzwords like “gender,” “political correctness” and “gestalt,” much less the words “abusive” and “toxic.” In those good old days, girls were girls and guys were guys and were not ashamed of their masculine or feminine natures. Girls curled their curls, were crazy about perfume and lipstick, and wore stiletto shoes and romantic polka dots dresses. Young men tried to appear worldly and brutal or demure and soft-spoken, in short, real knights in a Ford instead of a white horse bought on installment plan. Today, decades apart, that era seems like a lost paradise or a nightmare, depending on your view of gender relations. But the people of those days rarely thought about such lofty matters. They lived and enjoyed life as best they could without turning away from its imperfections or dreaming of tearing down the world their fathers had built to the ground to build an unprecedented futuristic building on its dusty ruins.
Woody Guthrie himself, who has written both topical and social songs as well as simple lyrical ones, never gave any interesting details about the history of the “Rubber dolly song. Especially since the song is largely inspired by folklore images. The “Rubber dolly song” is also a nursery rhyme sung by playing children, most often by girls. And the essence of this little song is that a little girl in love with ears casually blabbed to the caring mother of his friend, a sailor. The mother was not happy with the news of a future son-in-law and did not buy her daughter a gift, and well scolded her. However, a big girl does not need a rubber baby doll, even if she still wears a “baby” hairstyle and collects hair in two funny “ponytails. But if she ever born a daughter, she will certainly buy her and lollipops, and chocolates, and the very same rubber doll, even if it will not be old-fashioned fat-cheeked baby, and a long-necked painted beauty with a dazzling smile like the famous Barbie. That is the unusual meaning of this simple song.