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What's this word in a Decemberists' song

JWB 12 Oct 10 - 06:21 PM
michaelr 12 Oct 10 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Oct 10 - 06:36 PM
Nicholas Waller 12 Oct 10 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 12 Oct 10 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Oct 10 - 12:23 AM
SaltyWalt 13 Oct 10 - 12:52 AM
Leadfingers 13 Oct 10 - 06:55 AM
JWB 13 Oct 10 - 08:32 AM
SaltyWalt 13 Oct 10 - 04:45 PM
JWB 14 Oct 10 - 09:15 AM
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Subject: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: JWB
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 06:21 PM

The Oregon-based group The Decemberists sing songs that are delightfully odd, and they have a real affinity for 19-century phraseology. Most of the old-fashioned words I'm familiar with, but there's one that I cannot find a definition for.

It's in the song "Leslie Ann Levine", and occurs in this line:
"Still, a wastrel mesallied has brought me to this fate."

Internet searches, dictionary consultations, and even a Lyrics and Knowledge search here come up empty. Did the writer make it up?

Your help, Mudcat, please -- what's the meaning of "mesallied"? (This spelling is taken from the liner notes of the CD; the singer pronounces it "mays-allied").

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 06:36 PM

Could it be "mis-allied"?


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 06:36 PM

A mesalliance is a marriage with a person of inferior status.


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: Nicholas Waller
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 06:46 PM

On another forum someone called paralian said

"I looked it up in the dictionary on my laptop:
mésalliance |ˌmāzəˈlīəns; ˌmāˌzalˈyä n s|
noun
a marriage with a person thought to be unsuitable or of a lower social position.
ORIGIN French, from més- 'wrong, misdirected' + alliance (see alliance )."

and someone called fuelair said this in a couple of posts:

"it is an old term which basically means you met and 'got with" someone who was not good for you. It's current equivalent is, indeed, misalliance (aka mis-alliance) [...] specifically, to marry beneath oneself. French, and I am 98.5% certain I have seen it used in the Cadfael mysteries series at least twice - as well as others for that very general historical period."


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Oct 10 - 09:55 PM

songmeanings website?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

You desire, to become the liar (lyre) within their hart's desire?


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 12:23 AM

Thanks, all. I have learned a new word.


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: SaltyWalt
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 12:52 AM

Aww Jerry, I'm kinda hurt you didn't come to me first. ;)
I'd have to agree with the hard work and research done by the others. The theme of class transgression and outsidership runs through a lot of their work (pre-sellout).

In "The Mariner`s Revenge Song", one of the wrongs attributed to the villain is: "the magistrate reclaimed our small estate". Leaving the mother ruined is as important as leaving her "A poor consumptive wretch."

"A Cautionary Song " is one of my favorites, and in it we are told what such a class fallen mother must do to put food on the table.

I'll refrain from continuing, lots of their songs have this theme. It makes sense that they might choose to short hand the situation with such a word.

Beer


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 06:55 AM

Flanders and Swann's song about a relationship between a Bindweed and a Honeysuckle is called 'Mesalliance' !


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: JWB
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 08:32 AM

Thank you all for the confirmation of my guess. It was Colin Meloy's spelling of the word that put me off the scent. To a lover of words like me, his songs are full of toothsome expressions and archaic constructions.

Leadfingers, the F&S song you mention is unfamiliar, but it's probably not dissimilar to one recorded by the Smothers Brothers, recounting the trials of those star-crossed lovers Sally the lobster and Herman the crab.

Walter, I didn't know The Decemberists sold out -- pity. How big a pile did they make? I've always thought of "A Cautionary Song" as the type of thing a creative (albeit twisted) father would say to his picky children at the dinner table, to get them to eat their brussel sprouts.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: SaltyWalt
Date: 13 Oct 10 - 04:45 PM

Thanks for the window into the world of "Jerry as Dad."
Perhaps I'm being too harsh.
In 2006 they signed with Capitol & "Crane Wife" a banal & generic offering made it to 35 on Bilboard.

Perhaps the rock opera "Hazards of Love", which I have not perused, is more worthy of their efforts.


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Subject: RE: What's this word in a Decemberists' song
From: JWB
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 09:15 AM

Walt,

Do you think there is a correlation between being signed by a big record company and the creativity of a band? If so, then it's no wonder that sea music is such a vibrant genre...no danger of our favorite groups having the life sucked out of them by the industry machine, eh?

Jerry


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