Tunes From The Dark Side
Pop music at its worst is trite, banal and stupid. Pop music at its best is inspired, joyous and life-affirming. Far away from either of these extremes lie the "Dark" tunes- pop hits, to be sure, but thematicaly concerned with the malevolent side of human nature:
"I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney put on top, and it's made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me child, tell me who do you love?"
-Bo Diddley (Elias McDaniel)
Romantic, isn't it? Sure fire pick up lines! Let's get just a little bit gruesome...
"Now on the sidewalk, huh, huh,
whoo sunny morning, un huh
Lies a body just oozin' life- eek!
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?"
-Berthold Brecht (Bobby Darrin version)
That one was a monster #1 hit for several weeks in the early sixties- about a serial killer! Next up, the hatred of life itself expressed in meter...
"I see a red door and I want it painted black...
No colors anymore I want them to turn black...
I see the girls go by dressed in their summer clothes...
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes..."
-Paint It Black, by Richards and Jagger
These grim ditties aren't just limited to the sixties however- in 1933 Hungarian Rezsó Seress composed a song with lyrics that actually inspired suicides-it's still banned on the BBC...
"Gloomy Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be prayers and candles are lit, I know
Let them not weep, let them know,that I'm glad to go
Death is a dream, for in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul, I'll be blessing you..."
Charming. What's on your iPod?