Three Pop Songs that Are More Depressing Than Most People Think

Monday, April 6, 2009

I think you're headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it
You really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?

Traditional interpetation: Words of caution from a friend to her more reckless compatriot.

More depressing interpretation: Laura Branigan mercilessly taunts her increasing unstable paranoid schizophrenic pal.

Wasting away again in Margaritaville...
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render,
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.
Yes, some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
And I know it's my own damn fault.

Traditional interpretation: Whoo! Margaritas! Let's drink a lot, brah!

More depressing interpetation: Alcoholic bum drinks himself to death on the beach with fruity girl-drinks.

Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
"I was tired of my lady - we'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns there was this letter I read
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
So I waited with high hopes and she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, "Oh it's you."
Then we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew."

Traditional Interpretation: Oh, isn't that sweet, they were writing to each other the whole time! Awwww...

More Depressing Interpretation: Both of the lamest people in the world, together in a sad, loveless relationship are finally exposed in tawdry infedelities (attempted).

We've spoken about the Pina Colada song before, probably at more length than it deserves, but it just boggles my mind that there could be any positive interpretation about this song. They were both caught red-handed, and no doubt will be hypocritically furious at each other. Is there any way this relationship can last after the final Pina Colada wears off? I find a much more palatable and likely reading of the song indicates that she says "Oh, It's you." with the same tone you'd reserve for being invited to a meeting of the local KKK (after the Kuwanis club's meeting at the Perkins).

As for Margaritaville, another more deserving interpretation involves tetanus, recieved from that unsanitary (as most things in Key West are. I got a pizza there that tasted like it was a mixture of mud and rabies) pop top. Weren't wearing your damn sandals, were you, Jimmy?

I've never heard that Laura "Zap" Branigan song, but it sounds pretty badass.

I'd like to add to your list: Alison, by Roy Orbison, a song I have heard lots of times on Muzak, which can certainly be open to interpretation.

A while ago, my mom and I saw a CD of "Teen Death Songs", presented with absolutely no indication of the subject matter, on one of those kiosks in a gas station with the compilation of Willie Nelson songs no one has ever heard of, and the like. This included: Leader of the Pack (notable for including sound effects of the actual mortal crash), Dead Man's Curve, Two-Hour Honeymoon, (All I Have Left is) My Johnny's Hubcap, Terry ("One day he'll know how hard I prayed for him to live...."), The Water was Red (shark attack), Patches, Wildfire (she dies looking for her pony), and last but not least "Timothy", about three miners who, after being trapped in a mine, become 2*1.5 miners.

Totally! I was blown away to find that the brooding, melancholic rock song, bemoaning the death of a teen lover wasn't just an odd outlier in the history of music, it was a whole subgenre. The local independent music radio station played Jody Reynolds' Endless Sleep a while back (considered to be first of the Teen Tragedy Songs). Made me appreciate the deep and endearing weirdness of American Pop Music, and the awesomeness of non-commercial radio.


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