He wrote a bunch of songs that you don’t know he wrote, like: “Rainbow Connection,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” And, back in the 80s a random customer at the grocery store that I worked at said I looked like him (which I did not consider a complement). I have since been told I look like Philip Seymour Hoffman, so I’ve got that going for me.
So this song starts with a rather dark and dramatic guitar riff. When Williams starts singing, the lyrics are really dark and mean:
Winter comes and the winds blew colder
While some grew wiser, you just grew older
And you never listened anyway,
And that’s the hell of it.
But then the bridge comes in and it’s bright and uplifting (with chipper backing vocals and bouncy pianos). Although the lyrics remain dark dark dark:
Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody likes you and you’re better off dead
Goodbye, we’ve all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
Though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you’re gone.
And then there’s another very short section section that is even more musically uplifting. And yet the lyrics: are the most ruthless:
If I could live my life half as worthlessly as you
I’m convinced that I’d wind up burning too.
The music returns to that sinister guitar riff and the verses continue:
Love yourself as you loved no other
Be no man’s fool and be no man’s brother
We’re all born to die alone, you know, that’s the hell of it.
The last minute of the song is all instrumental with that dark guitar sound underpinning a bright vaudevillian piano. And since the song was from a movie, I wonder if the end if all closing credits?
This song was written for the movie Phantom of the Paradise. I have never heard of the film. But I see that it was made by Brian DePalma, is a musical, starred Williams and was a mixture of of The Phantom of the Opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Faust, with hints of Frankenstein, Psycho and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Who would have guessed why it flopped (or why it now has a cult following).
Enjoy the strangeness:
[READ:June 17, 2013] “After Black Rock”
Joyce Carol Oates has the final True Crimes story in this weeks New Yorker. And her story is quite different from the others. Indeed, it was quite delightful how varied the topics of this special series were.
This piece concerns JCO’s historical family. Back in 1917, her mother’s father was killed in a bar fight (he was Hungarian and prone to violence). This devastated their family because he was the primary source of income. Her mother’s mother had nine children. Most of JCO’s siblings already worked (long hours for little pay, because immigrant kids didn’t go to school and there were no labor laws at the time).
And then came the shocking thing: JCO’s mother’s mother gave JCO’s mother away. She was none months old, they couldn’t afford to feed her, so they gave her to newlywed relatives who desperately wanted a child. They were John and Lena Bush (the Americanized version of Bùs). She was raised by them–given some school and some farm work and basically treated as their own.
When she was 18 or 19 she met JCO’s father. He also had an extreme death in his background–his maternal grandfather tried to kill his wife and daughter. Although he ultimately wound up killing only himself.
JCO and her brother were much much older when they learned of these tragedies–tragedies that literally shaped their lives long before they were born. Her mother was 80 when she told them about what happened to her and she was still hurt by the fact that her mother gave her away.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone could have such dramatic events in their past.