Deconstructing Stupid Songs | Street Jazz

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deconstructing Stupid Songs

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 10:01 AM

A few weeks ago, Heather Drain of Fayetteville’s Community Access Television did something that is almost morally unconscionable - she went to YouTube and pulled up the Richard Harris version of the Elvis Presley hit, “My Boy," and showed it to those of us who were in the office at the time.

For a day and night of sheer hell I could not get this song out of my head. I have long wondered how many people have stayed in bad marriages after listening to horrific songs like this, where a man stays in a bad marriage because of his love for his son.

That’s a lot of crap to put on a kid’s shoulders!

 There is something glorious about truly bad music.  Not just bad singing, ala Leonard Nimoy, but truly bad song-writing  - a class that “My Boy” goes into.  There are songs that stir folks, whether they be patriotic songs, or love songs,  or even semi-religious tales about taking on the devil in a fiddle concert.

There comes a point that you really listen to the lyrics, and think, “Oh my god,! What was I thinking?”

I also know this:

There are truly religious people who would rather you made fun of the Bible than a song - no matter how sappy or stupid - that has brought them some measure of happiness.

But for the rest of us - those who have had those moments of Grand Awakening, their feelings don’t much matter, nor should they. Otherwise, we’d have to nod in agreement  every time they try to tell us what a great singer bobby Goldsboro (“Honey.” “Watching Scotty Grow”) really is.

Ah, “Honey” - Bobby Goldsboro’s peon to a simple-minded child-bride and the creep who married her.

See the tree, how big it's grown
But friend it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big
I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it, was just a twig
Then the first snow came
And she ran out to brush the snow away
So it wouldn't die
Came runnin' in all excited
Slipped and almost hurt herself
And I laughed till I cried . . .

Okay, well. Today, I suppose, this is the kind of guy who’d be getting himself a mail-order bride.

And the kid who played the fiddle contest with the devil?

Very religious folk - and who may not know a damn thing about music - will swear to this day that Johnny beat the devil. Anyone else in the civilized world will scoff at that, much to the confusion of the faithful who cling to the myth of Johnny the Exalted Fiddle Player.  In John Moe’s excellent book Conservatize Me, he performs an admirable job of deconstructing this mess of a song - which is pretty much an insult to both music lovers and the truly devout.

He also raises the fascinating question:

Once Johnny reaches Heaven, just how is going to explain this contest to God?

It’s sort of amazing that Charlie Daniels has gotten so much traction out of this wretched  song, being lionized by the right so much. Well, whatver pays the bills, I suppose.

I’m sure that you have your own list of really stupid songs. And we never even touched on poor Lee Greenwood or the Captain and Tenille!


Quote of the Day

“ . . . As an avid reader, I ask people what they’re reading and then push them a bit about the book - why they like it, what character, what scene. Some people give a general response: “I liked it” or “It was awful.” But sometimes the question is a launch pad for a conversation about ideas. Reading, writing, and life. Most people are hungry for meaningful conversations and just need a nudge to make them happen.” - Kim Allen- Niesen: Letters, Utne Reader, July/August 2009


D.R. Bartlette - The Worst Movie I’ve ever seen

Our new blog question: What’s the worst movie or book that you have ever read - or at least within recent memory, and why? This may be a real public service! Today we present D.R. Bartlette, a writer living in Fayetteville.

think the worst movie I've seen in a while is Twilight. I suppose if I were 12, that movie would be awesome. But I'm not.

It was just horrid - it totally played on the gender/sexual stereotypes, inflating them and romanticizing them: The dangerous, hungry man who can barely control his appetite, and the innocent, "pure" girl who only thinks she wants what the man is in control of.

I was forced to sit through the whole thing because I was at someone else's house. Ugh



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