Welcome back! Wednesday means only one thing – more Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Let’s get feminine! No, seriously: let’s get feminine.

Mary MacGregor – Torn Between Two Lovers (download)

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve not had many women featured in Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold. (If memory serves correctly, the only woman we’ve covered has been Lauren Wood.) There’s a reason for this.

Mellow Gold is pretty much a Boys’ Club.

I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me, but in case you don’t, or you’re a woman and you’re offended by such a thought (why, I’d have no clue), hear me out: if we go back to our original thoughts on what defines a Mellow Gold song, which I’ve always felt is well-summarized from Mike’s statement from a while ago: they are often (and ideally) songs that contain “some variation on the theme of “I love you so much that I will never bother you again” or “come on baby, just allow me to be in your beatific presence and I will not even think of putting any kind of sexual move on you. I promise.””

In short, what self-respecting woman would lower herself to the level of Mellow Gold men?

Sure, there are always exceptions, and I encourage you to throw ’em up in the comments. Anyway, not so long ago, Scraps asked for a shout-out for some Mellow Women, and named a few songs – including “Torn Between Two Lovers.” Although it does encompass the classic ’70s Mellow Sound quite well, the lyrics are not really Mellow Gold. I think it’s worth covering, though, and I think I even know what would tip it over the edge. First, let’s tell you about Mary MacGregor.

Already a pianist and a singer from a young age, Mary MacGregor was given her first guitar as a high school graduation present – her first introduction to the wonderful yet highly dangerous and rebellious world of…folk music. She took the guitar to college with her, where she joined a folk duo and did the coffeehouse thing. One gig led to another, and before she knew it, she was touring around the country with a number of bands. She auditioned for a backing vocal spot for Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary. Peter recorded her singing “Torn Between Two Lovers,” which was picked up by Ariola Records.

(Can I just pause here and say: ARIOLA RECORDS? I mean, seriously, we couldn’t come up with a better name for this record company? I know the spelling is off, but….Ariola Records?) (I know I’ve just invited a history of Ariola Records in the comments.)

Anyhoo, “Torn Between Two Lovers” entered the Top 10 nearly thirty years ago to this week – January 22, 1977 – and topped the Hot 100 for two weeks. It remained on the Top 10 through the end of March. It also topped the AC charts, and for Mary, it…well, let’s hear her describe it, courtesy of her website:

During the next four years I moved to LA, recorded 4 albums, performed on 37 television shows, had another top ten single, signed with Ariola records, and then when it folded, got a recording contract with RSO Records, made 3 trips to Hong Kong, with two of those going on to other points in the Far East and Australia, performed with many other established and popular entertainers, was awarded “New Female Artist” by Billboard Magazine in 1978, and, mostly, traveled all over the US and South America, (this time mostly on planes). In November of 1980 I competed in The Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, and won the two top prizes for “Best Song” and “Best Performance”. It was a magical, wild and frightening roller coaster ride. I called it my “crash course” in the music business.

(She doesn’t mention that “Torn Between Two Lovers” also inspired a movie.)

MacGregor wasn’t one for stardom. She didn’t like the way her career consumed her life. Although she did have some other minor hits, she eventually moved out of the spotlight. As you can see by her website, she does still perform from time to time.

Okay, enough history. Time to make fun of the song.

Usually I try to analyze these songs for both their music and words. Well, musically, there ain’t a hell of a lot going on here. Lyrically, however….hoo boy. Do yourself a favor and crank up “Torn Between Too Lovers” (not too loud, unless you’re okay with rocks being thrown at you from passersby), and let’s go over these lyrics together as we listen, okay? And away we go!

There are times when a woman
Has to say what’s on her mind
Even though she knows how much it’s gonna hurt

Okay, pretty typical stuff here. Vague, generalized statement. Keep talkin’.

Before I say another word
Let me tell you, I love you

Okay, now I’m going to play the role of the guy she’s talking to: Uh oh. Nothing good can come of this.

Let me hold you close and say these words
As gently as I can

Hmmm. Maybe it won’t be so bad. She wants to hold me close and say something gently. That’s sweet, right?

There’s been another man
That I’ve needed and I’ve loved
But that doesn’t mean I love you less

(deer in headlights) WHAT THE FUCK??

And he knows he can’t possess me
And he knows he never will

Wait wait wait…I know you’re saying this “gently” and all, but…am I crazy, or did you just flat-out insult me? Are you saying I’m possessive? Couldn’t you just dump me and not tell me all of this? (my wife thinks that I’m reading this line wrong, but screw her, this is my website.)

There’s just this empty place inside of me
That only he can fill

Holy shit! Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Do you see now why this song is so wonderful? There are tons of songs about this kind of subject – loving two people for different reasons and not knowing exactly what to do – but how often, I ask you, is the song sung directly to the guy that’s losing? That’s classic, my friends. CLASSIC!

Here comes the chorus!

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

Here’s how I see this song: I see it as a sketch from a comedy show, played as straight as possible. She’s dropping this bomb on him, then suddenly turns away, looks out into the night sky, and goes all dramatic with the chorus, and the humor is that she’s obviously not really torn. How can she be fucking torn between two lovers? She pretty much said that Guy #1’s got nothin’!

On to Verse #2!

You mustn’t think you’ve failed me
Just because there’s someone else

Oh no? Because I’m pretty sure you just said, and I quote: “There’s just this empty place inside of me that only he can fill.” I don’t know if that’s an emotional thing, or you’re literally talking about your vagina, or what, but if that’s not a perfect example of failure…

You were the first real love I ever had

Oh, great consolation. I’ll think of that as I’m sitting in the garage with carbon monoxide slowly filling my lungs.

And all the things I ever said
I swear they still are true
For no one else can have the part of me I gave to you

What the hell part is she talking about? If I didn’t get the cooter, what did I get? The boobs? Is it the boobs? I probably got the elbow or something. Jesus.

Back to the chorus. She turns away. The audience goes wild. Wild!

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

What, you think it can’t get better? Verse 3, bitches!

I couldn’t really blame you
If you turned and walked away

Oh, that’s kind of you. Thanks for not blaming me for walking away after you told me – straight out – that you have the mist in your eyes from the smoke of a distant really fucking close fire.

But with everything I feel inside
I’m asking you to stay



Do you guys see my jaw dropping??

And, since comedy is best in threes, the guy is left to ponder such a ridiculous statement while she faces the audience and heads back to the chorus a third time:

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of you
Is breaking all the rules

I should be a director. I’ve just created a great music video/comedy sketch. I mean, it’s way better than MacGregor’s performance on American Bandstand, which leaves me wondering if she even knew what the song was about at the time (check out her blank stare!):


Here’s why this song can’t possibly be Mellow Gold: this woman is flat-out admitting she’s a cheating slut, that guy #1 can’t fulfill her in any way, shape or form, yet she’s asking him to stay. In Mellow Gold, we have rules. Like you guys said last week, vibe trumps guitars, but in addition, in Mellow Gold, the singer cannot have the upper hand. (This is why Sanford-Townsend is on the border. Yeah, the guy is being cheated on, but “don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out” shows he’s got the situation under control. I bet you had no clue that this much analysis went into Mellow Gold.)

But, you know…we could turn this song into a Mellow Gold song. Hopefully you know where I’m going with this.

What if the song was sung from the point-of-view of Guy #1…to the woman, and the audience?

There are times when a woman
Has to say what’s on her mind
Even though she knows how much it’s gonna hurt

Before you say another word
Won’t you tell me you love me
Please just hold me close and say the words
As gently as you can

There’s been another man
That you’ve needed and you’ve loved
But that doesn’t mean you love me any less
And he knows he can’t possess you
And he knows he never will
There’s just this empty place inside of you
That only he can fill

Torn between two lovers
Feeling like a fool
Loving both of us
Is breaking all the rules

Now that, my friends, is pathetic. THAT’S Mellow Gold. Don’t pretend you can’t hear Randy VanWarmer singing this one! And of course, because it’s Mellow Gold…the guy stayed with her. He got approximately one Cool Night a week.

Actually, there is one reason why the original IS Mellow Gold: Peter Yarrow wrote it. PETER YARROW! A GUY! Any guy who would write such a song….well, I don’t need to finish that statement, do I?

Will another woman do some bitch-slapping next week? Will we witness the emasculation of yet another male? You’ll have to come back next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold to find out!

About the Author

Jason Hare

Jason Hare used to love Christmas. He feels differently now.

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