If You Have Half A Brain
February 17, 2014 4:22 PM   Subscribe

In Rupert Holmes' "Escape", there are a couple of lines that seem at odds with what I would call hippie culture, namely "If you're not into yoga" and "I'm not much into health food." Yet some of the other bits like "getting caught in the rain," "the feel of the ocean," and "making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape" seem, to my more modern viewpoint, in line with hippie-esque ideals. So what's the deal?

Can the type of person he is looking for (or he is) be given a name or identified within a certain subset of society in 1979 when the song was written? Who exactly was it in 1979 who liked pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, etc.?

Is there some sort of cultural divide between hippies and whatever kind of yachty crap Rupert Holmes has created here?

This may also be a question about the evolution of things like yoga and health food within American culture, but I'm not sure. It's mostly a history question and is somewhat muddled in my head, so I hope it's clear (enough) here.

Also, you're welcome for that live version.
posted by papayaninja to Society & Culture (29 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The singer and his target audience have just slightly aged out of disco culture.
posted by carmicha at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

What carmicha said. Also, the contrast is aging hippies. Jazzercise versus yoga.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2014

Yeah, and in the 1970s having long hair didn’t mean you were a hippie (or were liberal, etc.), if that’s where your confusion comes from.
posted by D.C. at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hippie culture was not homogeneous, whether in 1969 or 10 years later. A lot of people generally thought of as hippies disdained yoga, health food, even drugs -- and even 'hippie culture.' And really, what yuppie or fratboy/girl doesn't like making love in the dunes.
I always liked this song. The person he ended up finding, remember was his current partner -- they reconnected on some of their own memes. I think the point was that 1) people are individuals, not personal ads; and 2) relationships can go off track, but remember what drew you to each other in the first place.
posted by LonnieK at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

A lot of hippies were very selfish and ego-oriented, too
posted by thelonius at 4:43 PM on February 17, 2014

It never once occurred to me that anything in this song involved hippies. The "health food" is positioned against "champagne," i.e., he's the kind of guy who likes to have fun and celebrate, not save up his years to spend them later. He's not generalizing about subcultures, he's looking for someone who likes what he likes.
posted by kindall at 4:46 PM on February 17, 2014 [19 favorites]

This song's protagonists are not hippies. The writer of the original personal ad is a woman. "The feel of the ocean" and the reference to the Cape are romantically worded giveaways that she has access to a boat and very likely oceanfront property. "If you're not into yoga" is an indication of the woman's conservative proclivities, her age, as well as the desire to drink alcohol and eat in nice restaurants or bars.

Similarly, the reference of the man's response that he's "not much into health food," that he's "into champagne" is a response indicating that he can fit into that type of lifestyle.

Of course, this is all so romantically worded that when the man responds in kind, he does not realize that he is responding to a personal ad placed by his wife. They are both using coded language that hints romantically at their yacht-rock demographic and upper middle class lifestyle while not truly reflecting the realities and doldrums of the middle aged lives they both actually live.
posted by eschatfische at 4:57 PM on February 17, 2014 [18 favorites]

Yeah I just see it as evaluating their likes/dislikes against what people might like. It's worth understanding that Holmes wasn't even born in the US and was raised in New York and I think he's describing more of a decently-off Long Island aesthetic of the time and eschewing hippie stuff. Nowadays we think of rutting on the beach as a more hippie thing to do but in the seventies that stuff was more yacht-rock and less hippie oriented.
posted by jessamyn at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The song is pretty obviously about escape and indulgence. Health food and yoga are responsible things. Champagne and dune sex are irresponsible things. Cheating is irresponsible escapism. The moral is, growing up into a square isn't so bad.
posted by quincunx at 5:11 PM on February 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Ugh. This song was popular because it appealed to the lowest common denominator. Everyone likes "getting caught in the rain" and "the feel of the ocean." Everyone liked Pina Coladas in 1979, it was a thing. Yoga and health food are presented as something to be contemptuous about. This song is so Walmart-friendly that I am surprised that it has not been used in their marketing.
posted by Morrigan at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

They're affluent 1970's Californians. Substitute 'I am not into ganja, I am into cocaine" for the original line, and it becomes self-explanatory.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 5:47 PM on February 17, 2014 [12 favorites]

I always thought this song was about a couple of boring yuppies! Shows what I know.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2014

> They're affluent 1970's Californians

I've always thought "the Cape" was Cape Cod.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:16 PM on February 17, 2014

The corpse has it. The song is about affluent New Yorkers and the Cape is Cape Cod. There's background on the inspiration here:
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 7:34 PM on February 17, 2014

Sigh, yeah, you are making me feel old with this question (I graduated from college in 1979). This song had nothing do with with hippies, nor would someone who self identified as a hippie have been a fan of this type of pop music in that era. Yuppies would be a more accurate descriptor if you wanted to pigeonhole them, and pina coladas in that era would kind of signal that demographic. I interpreted it at the time as people who have settled down into a suburban/yuppie existence thinking they needed to look outside their marriage for a bit of the romance and freedom of youth: "getting caught in the rain", "making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape."

(Footnote - not much of anyone would have called themselves a hippie in the late 70's, even if they might have characteristics that fit people's stereotype of a hippie. Even in the hippie heyday, not that many people would have self identified as hippies.)
posted by gudrun at 9:01 PM on February 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yoga and health food are about planning, forethought and boredom - you do them because you should, to stay healthy, not because you want to. Contrast that to pina coladas and champagne which have no purpose other than enjoyment and pleasure. Similarly, getting caught in the rain and making love at midnight (etc) are just for fun and probably unplanned. It's all about everyday dull obligations, with an eye on the future, versus consequence-free fun and spontaneity.
posted by andraste at 2:52 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just another voice chiming in to say I never for one moment associated either Mr. Holmes's appearance or his song with anything remotely hippie-ish. It always struck me as a sort of vaguely yuppie sort of thing. Semi-affluent pre-eighties American urban professional stuff.
posted by Decani at 4:33 AM on February 18, 2014

Yuppies, yuppies, yuppies. That's who those people are. Older baby boomers who have taken on the yuppie lifestyle. In 1979 no one would have thought anything "hippieish" about them, other than that they were probably hippies once but had grown up and sold out.
posted by litlnemo at 4:42 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to echo, this song is not about hippies. At. All. These are two urbanites, who are bored with their mates and they've placed personal ads, complete with cliches, to find someone new.

Getting caught in the rain, making love on the beach are staples of personal ads. Add in sunsets and it's a trifecta! Pina Coladas were enjoyed by folks who liked their alcohol to taste like candy. Umbrella drinks. Sweet, sickly sweet.

So no, just regular folks looking to get some strange on the side.

And I was 17 in 1979 and pretty much HATED this song, so thanks for the earworm.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:37 AM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another person chiming in with "these aren't hippies". More like, some of the cultural trappings of "hippie-dom" had bled over into society at large by the late 70's.

And "getting caught in the rain" and "making love on the beach" aren't even "hippie" stuff to begin with, those are more like "personal ad cliche-speak".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the late 70s here was a bit of backlash against some of the more ascetic trends of the 60s. Yoga, health foods, vegetarianism tended to be tossed aside in favor of more hedonistic pleasures. For example:

Tried to amend my carnivorous habits
Made it nearly seventy days
Losin' weight without speed, eatin' sunflower seeds
Drinkin' lots of carrot juice and soakin' up rays

But at night I'd had these wonderful dreams
Some kind of sensuous treat
Not zucchini, fettucini or Bulgar wheat
But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat

posted by TedW at 8:07 AM on February 18, 2014

You should email him and ask, he is surprisingly approachable,

He has written two mystery novels that I liked, and one was made into a pretty bad movie, Where the Truth Lies,

I liked the book so much, I rented the movie, and I was really disappointed. So I emailed him, and told him what I thought, and he was great. He told me some of the details that went into making the film.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:09 AM on February 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

OK, just had to drop this here. In the MST3K episode Monster-A-Go Go there is a bit "explaining" the song. Here's a youtube link to the episode. The stuff on the song starts at around 1:10.
posted by gudrun at 11:55 AM on February 18, 2014

Who exactly was it in 1979 who liked pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, etc.?

Not hippies. "Disco Dannys" is what we called those people. Everyone I knew who self-identified as a hippie absolutely despised this song. As did most everyone else. It was one of the cheesiest, most hated songs of the decade, along with Morris Albert's "Feelings", and Paul Anka's "Having My Baby".
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:51 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hippies? In 1979? Weren't any hippies then. A chum advised me to lose my all-patches-jeans because the hippie thing was dead -- in 1974.
posted by Rash at 5:45 AM on February 19, 2014

Response by poster: So, to be clear, I know there weren't really hippies in 1979, and I DEFINITELY know that this is not a hippie song by any stretch. I used hippie as shorthand for the ideals I was talking about, not for him, or having long hair, or whatever. TedW and MexicanYenta have answers more in line with what I was asking about.
posted by papayaninja at 12:21 PM on February 19, 2014

Another name for this type of guy was: Make-out Man. Generally identified by unbuttoned shirt, necklace (gold or shell), tight pants, fluffy hair.

I drank more than my share of pina coladas sent my way at fern bars by Make-out Men. I may or may not have made out with them (with that damn song playing on the car radio).

God I miss that era.
posted by nacho fries at 9:39 PM on February 19, 2014

Just a counterpoint to what some people here are saying - yes, there were still hippies in 1979. Maybe not all over the entire USA, but in some areas, they definitely still existed. New Mexico, where I was living at the time, was full of 'em.* They definitely were not into this song, and they had nothing but scorn for people who did like the song. Nacho Fries gives a pretty accurate description of those people.

*Trends tend to start later and last longer in the more remote parts of the country. I still see the occassional Farah Fawcett hairdo from time to time. But as near as I can figure, hippies ceased to exist at the moment when John Lennon was shot. His murder finished off any "peace and love and food co-ops" idealism that was still lingering.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:13 AM on March 10, 2014

With all due respect to the OP's question ..
This song is not about hippies, slackers, flappers, or Gibson Girls. It's about reconnecting with the person you fell in love with. Period.
And it that respect, it's timeless.
posted by LonnieK at 7:38 PM on March 16, 2014

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