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  #1  
Old 05-02-2002, 07:27 PM
RexKatWA RexKatWA is offline
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"

In the old song "Moody River", the lyric goes "Moody river, more deadly than the vainest knife". What the heck does the word "vain" mean in this context? This was a popular song, at the time, but somehow this doesn't fit the dictionary definitions of the word:

vain Pronunciation Key (vn)
adj. vain·er, vain·est
Not yielding the desired outcome; fruitless: a vain attempt.
Lacking substance or worth: vain talk.
Excessively proud of one's appearance or accomplishments; conceited.
Archaic. Foolish.


Moody River

-Artist: Pat Boone from "Pat Boone's Greatest Hits"-MCA: MCAC 10085
-peak Billboard position # 1 in 1961
-Words and Music by Gary D. Bruce


(Moody river, moody river)

CHORUS
Moody river, more deadly than the vainest knife
Moody river, your muddy water took my baby's life

Last Saturday evenin' came to the old oak tree
It stands beside the river where you were to meet me
On the ground your glove I found
With a note addressed to me
It read "Dear love, I've done you wrong"
"Now I must set you free"
"No longer can I live with this hurt and this sin"
"I just couldn't tell you that guy was just a friend"

CHORUS

I looked into the muddy water and what could I see?
I saw a lonely, lonely face just lookin' back at me
Tears in his eyes and a prayer on his lips
And the glove of his lost love at his fingertips

CHORUS
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2002, 09:18 PM
socialxray socialxray is offline
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It seems to me that, in the context of the song, "vainest" is used to personify the knife (obviously). It could mean..a knife so "vain" as to feel it could kill anything. As opposed to..a knife with morals? Sounds a bit stupid, but then again this is a Pat Boone song we're talking about.

Although he did cover Dio's "Holy Diver." And how can you fault a man for that?
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2002, 09:44 PM
DrMatrix DrMatrix is offline
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I changed the title to something more descriptive than " and I'm moving this thread to Cafe Society.

DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator
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Old 05-03-2002, 06:23 PM
RexKatWA RexKatWA is offline
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Thanks. That's good. Anybody else?
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  #5  
Old 02-14-2012, 12:04 AM
carc90405 carc90405 is offline
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Vainest knife

Moody River was written by Gary D Bruce and first recorded by him in 1961 using his performer name Chase Walker. His original words were "more deadly than the SHARPEST knife" but during the recording session the P in "sharPest" kept popping so rather than find a different mike, Gary (Chase) changed sharpest to "VAINEST" on the spot and probably very little if any thought went in to the meaning of vainest.
When Pat Boone recorded it a couple of months later Dot Records chief, Randy Wood checked to make sure the lyric was correct before releasing the record. Pat Boone says he had no idea what a "vainest knife" was and just sang the lyrics as written. Pat's Moody River topped the charts on June 17, 1961.

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_...#ixzz1mKaZ45OZ
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Old 02-14-2012, 08:15 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Thanks for providing that info, carc90405. I hadn't run into this thread back then, but I always wondered about that lyric. This song is in my repertoire, and I sometimes substitute "keenest" for "vainest," but even though it's literally correct it doesn't reflect most people's everyday speech. It didn't occur to me to use "sharpest," but now I'm thinking I'll do just that.

ETA: A little research shows that Bruce used the name Chase Webster rather than Chase Walker.

Last edited by Gary T; 02-14-2012 at 08:20 AM..
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