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Review: Summer wages -- sad? (Ian & Sylvia song)

DigiTrad:
CLAUDE DALLAS
FOUR RODE BY
FOUR STRONG WINDS
RED VELVET
SOMEDAY SOON
SONG FOR CANADA
SPRINGTIME IN ALBERTA
SUMMER WAGES


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GUEST,mg 09 Apr 10 - 06:19 PM
Bob the Postman 09 Apr 10 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,mg 09 Apr 10 - 08:09 PM
GUEST,gm 09 Apr 10 - 08:16 PM
Bob the Postman 09 Apr 10 - 09:26 PM
Dave Hanson 10 Apr 10 - 10:30 AM
DonMeixner 10 Apr 10 - 11:33 AM
Murray MacLeod 10 Apr 10 - 04:43 PM
Dave Hanson 10 Apr 10 - 06:44 PM
Bob the Postman 10 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM
Dave Hanson 11 Apr 10 - 02:43 AM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 10 - 08:41 AM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 10 - 08:50 AM
Ron Davies 11 Apr 10 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 11 Apr 10 - 09:36 AM
Dave Hanson 11 Apr 10 - 09:59 AM
Ron Davies 11 Apr 10 - 10:10 AM
CET 11 Apr 10 - 05:45 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 10 - 06:10 PM
meself 11 Apr 10 - 06:20 PM
M.Ted 12 Apr 10 - 06:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 12 Apr 10 - 11:44 PM
meself 13 Apr 10 - 12:34 AM
mg 13 Apr 10 - 12:56 AM
Bob the Postman 13 Apr 10 - 12:03 PM
pdq 13 Apr 10 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,mg 13 Apr 10 - 12:42 PM
Bob the Postman 13 Apr 10 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 13 Apr 10 - 01:12 PM
meself 13 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,mg 13 Apr 10 - 02:04 PM
Genie 13 Apr 10 - 08:14 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM
pdq 14 Apr 10 - 01:46 PM
Bob the Postman 14 Apr 10 - 02:23 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 14 - 04:10 PM
GUEST 13 Jul 14 - 10:39 AM
Bert 13 Jul 14 - 01:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jul 14 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,S.T.Holt 11 May 16 - 12:13 PM
meself 12 May 16 - 12:18 PM
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Subject: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 06:19 PM

We have had several discussions about this..is this a sad song to most people? The original Ian and Sylvia version is what I will base this on..not the additional verse where he won't find a good woman again.

I see it as a hopeful song..mg

Ian Tyson's Summer Wages in the Digital Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 08:01 PM

This song has been at the top of my private set list for the last couple of weeks. It's a song about the hollowed-out, hurt-to-the-core feeling that comes in the wake of a break-up. The guy doesn't care if he falls in the chuck and drowns, which is pretty sad. The futile bunkhouse to barroom and back to bunkhouse way of life used as a simile is tragic.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 08:09 PM

Are you listening to original version?

He is going to see the woman he loves. Doesn't say he lost her..he might have butI think he keeps her and goes to sea and gets new shoes. mg


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,gm
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 08:16 PM

Listening

I thought the woman got knocked up on purpose.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 09 Apr 10 - 09:26 PM

Knocked up? Knocked up ain't in it.

He's gonna see his old lady and she's gonna tell him to get lost. If there was something in there about "years are saved up for a down payment on a cottage in North Burnaby like summer wages", then that wouldn't be so sad. But both the wages and the woman are gambled and gone. He'll sign on for a long slow trip to Bella Coola and back and he'll blow the advance that shoulda gone for rain gear and work boots on draft at twenty cents a glass. By the time he's drunk enough to want a woman he won't even have the twenty bucks for a french and a fuck.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 10:30 AM

Load of drivel IMHO

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 11:33 AM

Sounds to me like good advice from a guy who should have known better.

D


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 04:43 PM

I hope Dave Hanson's comment about "load of drivel" wasn't directed at Ian Tyson's masterpiece, which, for me, ranks right up there with "Raglan Road" as a complex multi-layered song of lost love.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 06:44 PM

The song obviously doesn't travel.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 10 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM

I think he must have been referring to my comments on the song which you correctly characterise as a masterpiece of story-telling. As for my remarks, drivel is what I do best and it's nice to have one's talents recognised.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 02:43 AM

I found this on YouTube by Ian and Sylvia Tyson and Emmy Lou, honestly to me it's just your average typical country & western schmaltz.

In the UK the term ' summers wages ' is meaningless.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 08:41 AM

since Dave is so repulsed by the song that he cannot bring himself to supply the link, I will do it for him.

Ian and Sylvia, + Emmylou, singing "Summer Wages"

average typical C*W schmaltz it most certainly isn't IMHO.

I have always thought that the song was about a college student working his vacation on the towboats, much like students used to work on building sites in the UK back in the day, hence "summer wages".


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 08:50 AM

Is This Ian and Sylvia performance more to your taste, Dave ?


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 09:18 AM

It's an absolutely wonderful song. My favorite version is by J.D. Crowe and the New South--and includes the third verse--including bluegrass viola--though I'd prefer just one string instrument in the break. Easy easy loping quality to it--seems to fit a cowboy-type song--this is is one bluegrass song where the object is not to get to the end of the song first.

Partial to this version since I play bluegrass viola myself?   Not a chance.

As for "hopeful song".   Sorry, not likely. " She may be gone and lost like summer wages"--"now I've gambled and lost my summer wages.".

Saw a bumper sticker which speaks to this:   "Not all country songs are sad.   Some are melancholy."

That's just the way it is.   It ain't easy to write a good song which is upbeat without being saccharine.   There are a few--but a hell of a lot more great songs about love lost for any number of reasons.

Sure intend to learn this one someday soon--pun intended?   Never.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 09:36 AM

Funny, I consider this in the limited collection of perfect songs. The melody is very singable, The lyrics, like scenes in a John Ford movie, are photographic in many parts, the lyric is beautifully stated. The song stands alone beautifully and in of it self is in no way schmaltzy. The Ian and Sylvia and Emmy Lou performance is just fine.

Listen to Ian and Sylvia's song Wild Geese (Flying by) for another beautiful, simply stated lyric masterpiece.

I gotta disagree with Dave. I'm sure there are references from the UK that have no meaning on this side of the pond. I will accept the fact that Dave just doesn't like the song. I think that The Voyage and The Old Man are two of the poorest excuses for wasting lyrics I have ever heard. Tom Paxton and Jerry Jeff Walker have stated those themes so much better in Outward Bound and My Old Man. Dave can hate one other song that I like.

Don


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 09:59 AM

Quite liked that one Murray, but you seriously can't compare ' Summer Wages ' with Patrick Kavanagh's beautiful poetry in ' Raglan Road ' it's in a different league.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 10:10 AM

I don't know if the song is "perfect"--but it sure approaches it. The incisive imagery is yet another wonderful aspect.

To me in fact it also shares at least one attribute with "Raglan Road"--a dreamlike quality which makes the story more poignant.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: CET
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 05:45 PM

If folk songs were soccer teams, Summer Wages and Raglan Road would both be in the First Division. I'd have to give the nod to Raglan Road for the brilliance of the poetry, but after all Patrick Kavanagh was a great poet. Ian Tyson is a great song writer. There is a difference.

I am struck, but not particularly surprised, by Dave Hanson's arrogance in assuming that because summer wages is not a term familiar to him, as an Englishman, the song is somehow deficient. In any case, how can you listen to the song and not immediately understand what summer wages mean?


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 06:10 PM

..."If folk songs were soccer teams, Summer Wages and Raglan Road would both be in the First Division" ...

or even in the Premier Division, surely ...


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: meself
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 06:20 PM

Am I the only person in the world not utterly enamoured of Raglan Road?


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 06:42 PM

To me, the most amazing thing about this song is the way that it juxtaposes the images of personal sorrow and pain against images of the vast of the natural landscape. Every time I hear it, I feel the presence of those tall stands of timber, looming over our petty troubles and mean ambitions, and am filled with a sense of wonder.

I suppose it could be meaningless to someone who has never seen the Pacific Northwest, and who had never felt small against the vastness of the trees, and the water, and the mountains.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM

The wonderful thing about poetry, and songs have been called poetry put to music, is that the more vague and less precise it is, the more of their own mental junk other people can dump onto it, and usually, the more popular it gets.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 11:44 PM

Hi Ted,

I am in agreement with you. As poem it is better than as a song and I think that depends on the recitation. Tommy Makem was the only version I have ever enjoyed. But song or poem, it isn't close to a favorite of mine.

D


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: meself
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 12:34 AM

Don - Are you talking about Summer Wages or Raglan Road or? I believe Ted was talking about Summer Wages, but I can't imagine Tommy Makem reciting it ... but stranger things have happened ....


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: mg
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 12:56 AM

I think part of the problem is that Ian himself changes it from time to time..an he wrote that dismal last verse...I think the best version is an old one from Ian and Sylvia somewhere that a nice Mudcatter sent me.

mg


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 12:03 PM

I can understand how, from Dave's modern UK perspective, Summer Wages might seem to be a generic country hurtin' song. But M. Ted has it right--to someone like me the song is completely imbued with sub-text pertaining to a certain time and place--British Columbia circa 1960. This is the other side of the coin Foolestroupe alluded to above--if a lyric is sufficiently vague you can read into it your own profundities. Jobs, bars, hookers, trees, heartaches--sure, they got 'em everywhere. But I know exactly what jobs the narrator might have been working at, I know the view out the bus window as he rolls on to Vancouver, I've lived beside the fog-bound straits, I know the names of the Main Street hotels which housed the beer parlours. I know why the hooker is standing at the door instead of, for instance, sitting at the bar. Women weren't allowed in and there was no bar to sit at or even stand at in a beer parlour. You drank your beer sitting down or they threw you out, and I mean threw, not asked you to leave. These are not generic references to me, they are precise, and Summer Wages is one of the only songs I know which evokes those particularities. However the song is great not because it's specific to a time and place but because, as Don said, it is so well crafted that hearing it is almost like seeing a movie.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: pdq
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 12:29 PM

In later versions, Ian changed several words and was probably trying to be less "vague".

It didn't work.

The earliest version on "So Much for Dreaming" was never equalled.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 12:42 PM

I agree...the more particular a song is about where it takes place, the better it usually is.

And I have probably yet to see an improvement over original lyrics. mg


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 01:03 PM

It ought to be mentioned that Gordon Lightfoot's Big Steel Rail mines much the same vein as Summer Wages--"I went into town for one last round and I gambled my ticket away". I heard him perform it at a concert in Vancouver in the late Sixties. In his introduction he localised it to Kamloops, but he probably had a local reference for wherever he happened to be performing.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 01:12 PM

I meant Meself, and I was talking about not caring for Raglan Road. I was answering late at night. Sorry

D


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: meself
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM

Please come home, all is forgiven.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 02:04 PM

We'll never know unless he tells us, but I see it as a young man coming of age...he will get a stable job, which apparently he knows he can just walk into, which is a luxury not everyone has. He will have to cut back on the drinking, gambling, etc. and he will leave the filthy town for the wholesome outdoors. He may or may not have lost the woman, but there is no reason to presume we know he has lost her. mg


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Genie
Date: 13 Apr 10 - 08:14 PM

I think he's just coming to grips with some hard facts of life, love & work.

In this recording, Ian sounds a little sad, maybe a little disillusioned, but still with a bit of hope:
SUMMER WAGES: Ian Tyson from "Cowboyograhpy"

Never hit seventeen when you play against the dealer.
You know that the odds won't ride with you.
Never leave your woman alone with your friends around to steal her.
She'll be gambled and gone like summer wages.

And we'll keep rollin' on 'til we get to Vancouver
And the lady that I love, she's living there.
It's been six long months and more since I've seen her.
Maybe she's gambled and gone like summer wages.

bridge:
In all the beer parlors all down along Main Street,
The dreams of the seasons get all spilled down on the floor,
Of the big stands of timber waitin' there just for falling.
The hookers standing watchfully waiting by the door.

So I'll work on the towboats with my slippery city shoes.
Lord, I swore I would never do that again!
Through the gray fog-bound straits where the cedars stand a-waiting,
I'll be far-off and gone like summer wages.

(repeat bridge & first verse)

Tag:
And the years are gambled and lost like summer wages.

I hear some ambivalence in it, as well as some advice for maybe avoiding some future losses.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM

"The wonderful thing about poetry, and songs have been called poetry put to music, is that the more vague and less precise it is, the more of their own mental junk other people can dump onto it, and usually, the more popular it gets."
"if a lyric is sufficiently vague you can read into it your own profundities."

The funny thing is that traditional folk music, with very very few exceptions, is not vague and evocative at all. This admiration of fuzzy poetry with guitar accompaniment started in the early 1960s.


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Subject: Lyr Add: EVERY DAY DIRT
From: pdq
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 01:46 PM

"...funny thing is that traditional folk music, with very very few exceptions, is not vague and evocative at all..." DG

Well, I just happen to have an example here (meaning earthy) from a very early Doc Watson LP:


Every Day Dirt

John come home all in a wonder,
Rattled at the door just like thunder.
"Who is that?" Mister Hendley cried,
"It is my husband! You must hide!"

She held the door till old man Hendley
Jumping and jerking went up the chimney.
John come in, looked all around,
But not a soul could be found.

John sat down by the fireside weeping,
Up the chimney he got to peeping.
There he saw the poor old soul
Sittin' a-straddle of the pot-rack pole.

John built on a rousing fire
Just to suit his own desire.
His wife called out with a free good will,
"Don't do that, for the man you'll kill!"

John reached up and down he fetched him
Like a racoon dog he catched him.
He blacked his eyes and then he did better:
He kicked him out upon his setter.

His wife she crawled in under the bed,
He pulled her out by the hair of the head.
" When I'm gone, remember this!"
And he kicked her where the kicking is best.

The law came down and John went up,
He didn't have the chance of a yellow pup,
Sent him down to the old chain gang
For beating his wife, the dear little thing.

When he got off, he went back to court,
His wife she got him for non-support.
John didn't worry and John didn't cry
But when he got close, he socked her in the eye.

Took John back to the old town jail
His wife she come and paid his bail.
Won't be long till he'll be loose --
I could tell more about it but there ain't no use.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 02:23 PM

Every Saturday I go along to the coffee house and listen to the kids from the music program at the college sing their songs. I listen real hard, but by the time they get to the end of the second line I can't remember what the first line was about and by the time they get to the end of the song I am without a clue. The music is just fine but there's nothing in the words you can latch onto. I think most of them are "I'm so mad at my boyfriend" songs but they could equally well be "I'm so ambivalent about my boyfriend" songs or even "save the whales" songs. But once a fellow codger did a cover I'd never heard before, Tom Russell's "Blue Wing", a story song about an alcoholic drifter. I had it practically memorised after one hearing.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 04:10 PM

Great music, melancholy perhaps but trenchant


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jul 14 - 10:39 AM

The last verse, which was left out of the lyrics posted above:

She's a woman so fine I may never try to find her,
for good memories of what we had before.
They should never be changed, for they're all that I'll take with me,
now I've gambled and lost my summer wages.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Jul 14 - 01:28 PM

The song is about the kind of people that I don't hang around with.

...Never leave your woman alone
With your friends around to steal her...

Who'd want a woman like that?


...
Its been six long months
And more since I've seen her
Maybe she's gambled and gone
Like summer wages...

again, who'd want a woman that wouldn't wait for you?


...She's a woman so fine I may never try to find her...

He must be a sorry SOB that he is too chicken to go find her.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jul 14 - 09:00 PM

Old posts-
Dave Hanson apparently was able to laze away the days of the summer holiday, but I had an English friend who told us of the varied and peculiar jobs that he held, for summer wages.

Bob the Postman paints a vivid picture of a part of Vancouver culture that is gone.

A great song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: GUEST,S.T.Holt
Date: 11 May 16 - 12:13 PM

This song resonates with anyone who has engaged in hard seasonal labour;logging oil rigs,ranching,construction,seismic .I notice this doesn't seem to be the case with most of the critics.The initial gambling reference is significant. When playing Blackjack(21) the general rule is to refrain from taking another card(hit) when your hand totals 17,the law of averages is against drawing a 4 or less. The following line describes the folly of going off on a job for a lengthy period,while your woman is left behind.As many of us know,it's easy to lose your summer wages in gambling and drinking,it's just as easy to lose the "years "of a relationship ,by long absences.


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Subject: RE: Review: Summer wages -- sad?
From: meself
Date: 12 May 16 - 12:18 PM

There's also the suggestion that circumstances don't allow a real choice about whether or not to leave your woman alone - you've got to go off to make some money - just as you have no choice about "hitting seventeen"; if you're playing the game, you're taking that chance. So the 'advice' is given in full knowledge that it is useless ....


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