Friday, October 09, 2009

Meeting a Man from the Motor Trade

I've long loved the Beatles song "She's Leaving Home," but I've also long been puzzled by the line "waiting to keep the appointment she'd made, meeting a man from the motor trade." The Wikipedia page on the song has lots of information about how it was written, but it does not saying anything about the significance of "the motor trade." Does "the motor trade" have any significance here? (Perhaps, as an American, I am missing some British slang?)

Here's Brad Mehldau's version of the song, in any case:


10 comments:

DaveG said...

hi andrew,

it is a a snide class-ridden aside that she is meeting someone in a trade (i.e. 2nd hand car salesman, perhaps Swiss Tony), Rather than the local doctor or laird her parents would prefer. She probably met him at a Lyon's tea dance. :-O
This song is about the stories of the 60's about escaping from the world of (say) 'Keep the Aspidistra flying'.

DaveG

Matt Merritt said...

I've always assumed it means a used-car salesman, Andrew. Certainly 'motor' would be taken to mean 'car'.

Donald Brown said...

McCartney: "Then there's the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in "Yellow Submarine", they weren't real people."

I'm trying to recall, but something I read somewhere remarked that getting into "the motor trade" was simply understood as "going places," cars in post-WWII England still being considered luxury items.

Andrew Shields said...

I wondered if there might be class issues involved. I also wondered whether "the motor trade" was a British euphemism for prostitution, but I guess Dave and Matt would have noticed that one, if it had been the case!

Unknown said...

"motor trade" is, as far as i understand, british slang for the abortionist. which all of a sudden makes the song make a lot more sense.

Andrew Shields said...

I did some Googling on the "motor trade = abortionist" and the references are all to the song. And I asked people on Facebook, and nobody confirmed it. But I'll keep asking around about it!

Unknown said...

Please listen to the following explanation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tesdSYbZIjM

Robert Blake said...

She is a runaway, who has gotten involved in human trafficking. The "man from the motor trade" (i.e. Human Sex Industry) will be taking care of her from now on. It's very dark...

nospam said...

Abortionist, sex trafficking….lol….stop making stuff up 🙄- He sells cars

As in the song, Coe met up with an older man named David, a croupier who worked in a club she frequented. “The article doesn’t say there was a man, but Paul figured a 17-year-old girl’s run away – she’s run away to a boyfriend. Although the young man I did run away to be with was a croupier, he had been in the motor trade before he was a croupier. And Paul got ‘a man from the motor trade’!”
Coe stayed with David at his London apartment for over a week before she saw her picture on a newspaper during an afternoon stroll

From Rolling Stone interview with the girl the song is about.

Andrew Shields said...

Thanks for the Rolling Stone reference. That article came out eight years after I wrote the post, though, so I think I can be excused for not having found it at the time!

And when I wrote the post, the Wikipedia page must have said nothing about Melanie Coe; otherwise, i would not have written it.

I think it's interesting that this post is one of the most frequented on my whole blog.