we had joy, we had fun....
Everyone has a special song, maybe more than one. I don't mean the let's hold hands and gaze into each other's eyes songs. Nor do I mean the man I miss those drunken college days songs. I'm talking songs that grate on your every last nerve, songs that get stuck in your head for days on end, songs that make you think bad, bad thoughts.
I have several of those songs, but none that get under my skin more than Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun. You know the one:
Yea, that one.
What made this song so spectacularlly horrible for me was the mention of my name:
Goodbye Michele, it's hard to die
when all the birds are singing in the sky
When this song came out, it surpassed singing the Beatles' Michele as the number one way to bug the living shit out of me.
The song was sticky, syrupy sappy. The lyrics made me cringe. And everyone knew this. My sisters, my neighbors, my classmates who needed no further excuse to make fun of me to begin with. If you wanted to get under my skin, you just stood in front of me and sang Seasons in the Sun.
A little known fact about Seasons in the Sun is that the 45 (remember those?) had an equally disturbing and morbid song on the flip side. Titled Put the Bone in, the lyrics went something like this:
Put the bone in
at the store
cause my doggie
by a car
I am not kidding. Looking for a link to the lyrics, I discovered that Soul Asylum did a cover version. I can only hope it was for laughs.
There were plenty of songs I could use against friends, if I had any. Billy Don't be a Hero was a very popular song at the time, full of war time angst and sadness, but I didn't know anyone named Billy. Besides, if Billy was the hero, it just wouldn't have the effect I wanted it to.
Then there was Run, Joey, Run, a song about a boy who got a young girl pregnant and the girl's father shoots him, leaving the mourning young woman to wail at the end of the song (presumably while holding Joey's dying body in her arms):
Daddy please don't
we're gonna get....
(pause for effect)
I think there was a slight obession with over-wrought emotions and death in the 70's. Maybe it was to counter the happy hedonistic disco craze.
The 70's was also the height of my mother's show tune craze. I was almost afraid to get off the bus each day, as my mother had a penchant for opening every window in the house and blasting her soundtrack of the moment. Do you know what it's like to get off the bus with a group of people and have every stare in horror at your house as the songs from Hair drift out the window?
Father, why do these words sound so nasty?
Can be fun
Join the holy orgy
And you wonder why I am the way I am? These are the songs of my childhood. War, death, sex. It all makes sense now, doesn't it?
Mom and dad also schooled us in the way of doo-wop, forcing us to listen to the Sunday night show on CBS-FM. There was nothing like having a few friends over on a summer Sunday night, hanging in the backyard and your mom turns off your "hippie druggie" music so she can embarass the hell out of me by dancing with my dad on the pool deck to lyrics like "Sh-boom, sh-boom." Doo wop seeps into your brain like on other kind of music. Three days after hearing a song, your mind is still going ramalamadingdong.
There are plenty of other songs - without my name - that get stuck in my head and cause me to writhe around on the floor in agony. McArthur Park, Copacabana, The Pina Colada Song, Whoomp There it Is, song, just to name a few. The only way to combat the phenomenom of a horrible tune playing on repeat in your head is to listen to some Cannibal Corpse. Trust me, after hearing those lyrics, you will forget all about the cake being left out in the rain.
And don't ever, ever sing that Seasons in the Sun song to me. You will regret it.