Melanie Safka recorded “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates” back in 1971. As a teenager I loved the song and sang it often. This past week something triggered memories of the tune and it got stuck in my head. I found myself singing it all the time. What a fun, happy song!
Or is it? An acquaintance of roughly my age heard me singing it and commented, “I always liked that song, but my mom wouldn’t let me sing it.”
“Really?” I asked, intrigued. “Why?”
“Well, she thought it was too sexual.”
Ok. This came as a complete surprise to yours truly. What could possibly be sexual about a young girl celebrating her love of roller skating? I turned to Wikipedia, the defacto source of information for everything in the universe.
According to Wikipedia, “Many listeners detect sexual innuendo in the lyrics, with the key in its lock meant to symbolize sexual intercourse, or in phrases such as “I go pretty far” and “I’ve been all around the world.”
Miss Safka said that she wrote the tune in about 15 minutes, and that there was no deep expression behind the lyrics. She explained, “…people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio.”
She also acknowledges though, that locks and keys are pretty obvious Freudian symbols for sex, so one could certainly draw such conclusions about the song.
I can’t believe I’ve been so naive all these years! What other subliminal messages lurk in the songs from my youth? Next they’ll be telling me that “Ring Around the Rosie” is really a reference to the Black Death outbreak in the 14th century. I don’t even want to think about “Eensy, Weensy Spider.”
Can you imagine what the lyrics for “Roller Skates” might be if written in this century? The innuendo would be gone, and the key replaced with an anaconda.
Lyrics to “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates
I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller skated to your door at daylight
It almost seems like you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you’ve got something I need, well
I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and
Try them on to see
I been lookin’ around awhile
You got something for me
Oh, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don’t drive, I been all around the world
Some people say I done all right for a girl
I asked your mother if you were at home
She said yes, but you weren’t alone
Oh, sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you got something I need, well
I roller skate, I ride my bike, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far.
Sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me.
I’m okay alone but you got something I need.
Oh, I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together to try them out and see,
I’ve been looking around awhile
You’ve got something for me
Oh I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key.