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The Pompitous of Love

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The Pompitous of Love Ever since the first time I heard Steve Miller sing “The Joker”, I’ve had this burning question in my mind – what in the world is the “pompitous” of love?

I even went as far as looking it up in the dictionary many years ago. Much to my consternation, I found out there’s no such word as “pompitous”. This, of course, begs the question, what exactly was Steve Miller thinking when he penned these words? (Or some might ask. what was he smoking?)

To answer the first question, we need to get inside Steve’s head by exploring the context in which he mentions this puzzling word. Examining the lyrics to this popular anthem of the marijuana-smoking, midnight-toking subculture gives us some insight into what Mr. Miller was trying to convey with his poetic license when he penned the words “pompitous of love”:

Some people call me the Space Cowboy
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
Cause I speak of the pompitous of love.
People talk about me, Baby
Say I’m doin’ you wrong, doin’ you wrong
Well, don’t you worry Baby
Don’t worry
Cause I’m right here, right here, right here, right here at home.
Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one.
I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun.
I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I get my lovin’ on the run
Wooo wooooo
You’re the cutest thing
That I ever did see.
I really love your peaches
Want to shake your tree.
Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time
Ooo-eee baby, I’ll sure show you a good time.
Cause I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun.
I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I get my lovin’ on the run.
I’m a picker
I’m a grinner
I’m a lover
And I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun.
I’m a joker
I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one.
Wooo woooo
People keep talking about me Baby
They say I’m doin’ you wrong.
Well don’t you worry, don’t worry, no don’t worry Mama.
Cause I’m right here at home.
You’re the cutest thing I ever did see.
Really love your peaches want to shake your tree.
Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time
Come on baby and I’ll show you a good time.

Here Steve is telling us clearly that he is both a picker and a grinner. I interpret that to mean that he must have had a summer job picking peaches at an orchard, for he goes on to coin the famous one liner “ Really love your peaches want to shake your tree”.

This saying would go on to inspire many a face-slapping when used as a pick-up line by young men who were attempting to be suave. (At least I never had much success with using it.)

But I digress. Back to the question of how we are to correctly interpret pompitous of love? Unfortunately, pompitous is a difficult word to define. Yet somehow, I think I understand what Steve was trying to say by it. I think he was trying to tell us all that we should not be pompitous with our love.

I try very hard not to be a pompitous person So far, no one has accused me of being pompitous, and I hope no one ever does. I mean at least I think I hope no one ever does. Because, sometimes I wonder – maybe it is a good thing to be pompitous? And perhaps Mr. Miller was trying to tell us that we should be pompitous with our love? I found this posting on Yahoo: "pompitous' from the Latin "pompa" procession, an ostentatious display; love, from the Latin "lubEre" meaning to please; eg. "pompitous of love" a vain statement of one's sexual prowess, usu. given in an euphoric hazy cloud of blue smoke

(slang) a good roll in the sack

Or is it ?

PS. If you like my answer, could you please rate it. I am at 232 and need 18 points to get to level 2. Thanks ! -- The Joker
Underneath this entry, there were these comments: A made up word that fit the song. It's called poetic license.I saw an interview with Steve Miller about this once, and not even he could say what it meant.'Pompitious' is not a word.

Neither is it a neologism from what I can tell, nor is it 'poetic license'.

'Pompous something-else' perhaps?

Details please?Lol...Steve Miller right? He did an interview recently locally and said that it means nothing. When pressed further, he said he really can't say what it means. I guess it was an inside joke. And then there was this posting on the Songfacts website:

The line in this song, "I speak of the pompatus of love," has baffled listeners for some time. Greil Marcus provided the best explanation we've seen in a 2002 article for Los Angeles Magazine titled "In The Secret Country." The word "Pompatus" does exist in the Oxford English Dictionary, and it means "to act with pomp and splendor." Miller most likely heard the word on a song called "The Letter," which was recorded by the Los Angeles Doo-Wop group The Medallions in 1954. It was written by their lead singer Vernon Green, who was 16 at the time and crippled with polio. The song contained these lyrics:
"Let me whisper sweet words of dismortality, and discuss the pompatus of love. Put it together and what do you have? Matrimony."

The Pompatus Of Love is the name of a 1995 movie starring Jon Cryer, and Cryer tracked down Vernon Green to ask him about these lyrics. Green defined "Dismortality" as "Words of such secrecy they could only be spoken to the one you loved" and "Pompatus" as "A secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children."
The line, "Some people call me The Space Cowboy" is a reference to Miller's 1969 song "Space Cowboy." The line, "Some call me a gangster of love" is a reference to his song "Gangster of Love." The line, "Some people call me Maurice" is a reference to Miller's 1972 song "Enter Maurice." In that song Miller also sings about "The pompatus of love."(thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
Miller got the line at the end, "I really love your peaches want to shake your tree, lovey dovey, lovey dovey..." from "Lovey Dovey," a 1953 song by R&B group The Clovers.
Miller won a lawsuit against rap group The Geto Boys when they used this without his permission in 1990. In 2000, he let Shaggy use the bass line from this on his hit, "Angel." A year later, Miller let Run-DMC sample "Take The Money And Run."
The line "I'm a midnight toker" is a marijuana reference. Many stoners related to this song.
This finally hit #1 on the UK charts in 1990, thanks to its inclusion in a Levi's jeans commercial. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
In the TV show Friends, Joey has an imaginary friend named Maurice whose occupation is "Space Cowboy." (thanks, Patrick - Huntington, NY)

And then there was this:The pompitous of love originates from a line in The Medallions' 1954 R&B hit The Letter. Steve Miller was a fan of 50's R&B. On first hearing, that particular track would appear to say: Let me whisper sweet words of pismodality

And discuss the pompitous of love. Vernon Green, the author of The Letter, says, "You have to remember, I was a very lonely guy at the time. I was only fourteen years old, I had just run away from home, and I walked with crutches." This uneducated kid was prone to fantasy, so he just made up the lyrics. Pismodality, to him, meant words of such secrecy that they could only be spoken to the one you loved. "And it's not pompitous," he said. "What I said was 'puppetuse,' which is a term I coined to mean a secret paper doll fantasy figure."

But, now all these idiots are cruising around town singing at the top of their lungs along with the oldies radio station about the pompitous of love. If there are any linguists out there who can elucidate this word, I would be most appreciative…..

I’ve tried to get the answer from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, but my repeated requests for an interview with Mr. Miller have gone unacknowledged, and he won’t answer any of my voicemail messages. I have struggled with this issue through most of my adult life and I am ultimately reaching the conclusion that the pompitous of love is just one of those things in life that are destined to forever remain a mystery.


Aka "Peace Brother", I am a health professional and writer interested in promoting global peace and justice.
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a more compitous article might have explored wheth... by Jim Arnold on Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 10:14:53 AM
I guess I'll take that as a compliment....?... by Kris Malmquist on Sunday, Mar 23, 2008 at 5:54:25 AM
I heard an interview w/ Miller a few years back an... by RM Merrill on Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 10:33:33 AM
You love it and hate it.  Pompitous is the em... by John Hanks on Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 10:57:06 AM
I don't want to moralize, categorize or a... by zephyr on Saturday, Mar 22, 2008 at 12:01:23 PM