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October 5, 2005

Will you just DIE already?

I have this odd fascination presently with execrable songs.

I just downloaded Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. It's easily one of the most loathsome songs of the seventies. A man looks back on his life and says goodbye to his dearest friend, his father, his beloved wife, his pets, his neighbors, his dentist, the milkman, and several people he met once on the checkout line at the supermarket but didn't speak to . . .

All in an extended grating whine.

There are three verses. By the middle of the second you may find yourself screaming, "DIE! DIE ALREADY! DIE!!!!1!" And each time you listen it seems to take him longer to kick the bucket. Most horrifyingly, the song sold over six million copies worldwide. What were people thinking? Then again, I downloaded it, but were all those sales for kitsch value, or to torture unknowing friends? According to the link it was the largest selling single in Canadian history, again proving the correlation between long winter nights and suicidal tendencies.

Every performing art form seems to have the overextended death scene. Opera has its consumptive arias. How long does Violetta or Mimi take to die, and wouldn't it be hard to sing if you had tuberculosis? The champ in ballet is probably Mercutio, who gets goblet after whore after goblet while he's staggering about the stage for about three weeks. Tybalt's death scene is relatively faster, except for the endless drum tattoo where I find myself idly counting the drum rolls until he bites the dust. I swear in some productions they add extra ones.

It's not often seen here, but Ivan the Terrible (also with a score by Prokofiev) has a poisoning scene for Ivan's wife, Anastasia, that lasts several days and includes plenty of high kicks before she finally drags herself to the throne and gives up the ghost. You have to love Stravinsky - while Maria Tallchief was trying to die for all she was worth to his beautifully restrained score for Orpheus and Eurydice, he asked Balanchine, "How long is Maria going to take to die? She needs to be gone by count five."

My attitude is the one I recall from Phil Gardner's shirt. In the eighties, the Joffrey Ballet stage hands would make irreverent T-shirts for their tours. The dancers had them also and Phil would often wear his to class. It was from the tour of the Cranko Romeo and Juliet and said, "Why doesn't she just stab herself now? Then we could all go to the movies."

Posted by Leigh Witchel at October 5, 2005 2:10 PM

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Worst. Song. Ever. has to be Wildfire, which has a ghost. And a pony!

Posted by: TexAnne at October 5, 2005 5:43 PM

Cast my vote for "Billy Don't be a Hero". I am shocked (given world affairs) that this song has not made a comeback recently.

Posted by: Steve at October 6, 2005 12:59 AM

Right behind "Seasons"--"Feelings." Wo, wo, wo... My LYS just got some nifty new Italian yarn in: a merino/silk/cashmere blend that is so exquisitely soft, but the name!--oh goodness. Could you imagine handing somebody a sweater made of Feeling? Wo, wo, wo. Here, hon, mind if I Feel you up? Ay yi yi.

Posted by: AlisonH at October 6, 2005 7:23 PM

WHY did you mention Seasons in the Sun? Horrible, horrible, horrible. Now it's IN MY HEAD. I'll probably dream about it tonight.

The term for a song or tune that sticks in your mind is "ear worm."


Posted by: Grace at October 7, 2005 10:59 PM

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