Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Descent into Madness

Sometimes madness comes upon a man and he is caught completely unaware; other times, cruel fortune allows a man to witness his own descent into lunacy.

I find myself currently in the latter predicament. I can see the last shreds of my sanity slipping away as I fight the ugly, obsessive refrain that keeps popping into my head at all hours of the day and night.

What is this horrific refrain, you might be wondering? Is it some kind of Santeria jingle that makes me want to engage in ritual animal sacrifices? Is it the haunting lyrics of a Siren’s song threatening to crash the tender ship of my soul upon rocky shores (nice metaphor, huh?)?

If you really must know, the refrain that is driving me to the brink of insanity is the music to one of the most vapid, insipid, maudlin songs of my early adolescence. And it’s taking over my mind.

In case you weren’t around, 1977, when I had the misfortune to be entering my teenage years, was the single ugliest year in the entire history of the human race. “What?” you are probably thinking, “uglier than 1968, when both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed, when the Vietman War was entering it’s most violent period with the Tet Offensive, and when race riots were breaking out all over the country? Worse than 1348, when the Bubonic Plague broke out killing over one-third of the population of Europe?”

Yes, 1977 was infinitely worse.

In 1977 Jimmy Carter was President, everyone was listening to disco and wearing polyester and bell-bottoms, there was a heroin epidemic in the United States, and Star Wars had completely destroyed the thought-provoking movie industry of the early ‘70s. 1977 was, without a doubt, the low-point of a decade that itself was probably the ultimate low-point in human history.

1977, in case you are interested, was also the year that Dan Hill released the song, “Sometimes When We Touch.” And, not surprisingly, given just how horrific the state of music was at the time, the song eventually reached #3 on the Billboard Charts.

In 1977 I was a naïve Catholic schoolboy about to enter Cathedral Prep Seminary in Queens. I had hopes, dreams, and the prospects for a decent life. In my state of perfect innocence, I was able to suppress “Sometimes When We Touch,” focusing instead on the infinitely less decadent music of The Who. My soul, in short, remained unscathed by that vile song…until now that is.

Early last week—I don’t remember exactly when—I awoke in the middle of the night with that damnable song in my head. I tried, as best I could, to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t get the sounds of Dan Hill’s saccharin voice out of my head.

The song has now impregnated itself in my mind, and every time I think I am free of it, like a “hesitant prize fighter” I keep having to do battle with it, simply to preserve what little is left at this point of my sanity. I long for the “fear in me to subside” but I know that until I exorcise the demons that animate Hill’s song, they’ll be no peace possible for me.

I suppose I could simply try to “close my eyes and hide,” but I’ve come to the realization that the only way to achieve lasting peace for me is to attempt to deconstruct, stanza by stanza, what has to be the worst song ever written.

So, here it goes:


You ask me if I love you
And I choke on my reply
I'd rather hurt you honestly
Than mislead you with a lie

The guy’s crying already and the song hasn’t even begun. What a wimp! What’s going to happen when he has to face a real crisis—death, divorce, a tax audit, a receding hair line, Jennifer Lopez’s next movie?

And does he really think that she’d prefer to be “hurt honestly” than to be misled with a lie? Everyone prefers a pleasant lie to painful honesty. He’s really suffering from some serious delusions here!

And who am I to judge you
On what you say or do?
I'm only just beginning to see the real you

He’s been judging her right from the beginning of the song. He’s already inferred that she is the kind of weak-willed, mamby-pamby, shallow sort of creature that can’t possibly handle the truth. I don’t know about you, but if people thought that of me, I’d be pretty pissed! Maybe she really is completely vacuous. Why else would she stay with such a complete and total loser?

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide

This is the refrain that keeps popping into my head, like some kind of virulent pestilence. I have so many questions about these lines that there isn’t enough space on all the Blogger sites ever created to do justice to my queries.

Why, for example, is this guy concerned about honesty when he’s engaged in frottage (look it up) with his girlfriend? It could be that he’s a philosopher, but even philosophers put aside their quest for the truth every now and then when other more interesting possibilities present themselves (wink! wink!). This would be one of those rare occasions when I would encourage just about everyone to forget the truth for a little while and focus on the task at hand (so to speak).

And, if he really is concerned about honesty, then why is he closing his eyes and hiding? Shouldn’t his eyes be wide open if he really wants to perceive the truth? So many contradictions!

I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

“I wanna hold you till I die”??? Isn’t this a bit extreme? Wouldn’t it be better for him to hold her until she dies. Then he can get on with his life and find another woman who doesn’t make him cry so much.

“Til we both break down and cry”??? Again with the crying! And now they’re both crying (Maybe it would be better if these two just called it a day and tried to find other partners who were more upbeat). Of course, this could just be his fantasy: what guy, after all, doesn’t dream about holding onto his girlfriend and crying with her. Sounds like a hoot to me!

“Till the fear in me subsides”??? What the hell is he so damned afraid of anyway? Never in the entire history of recorded music has a nervous nellie like this been a protagonist in a love song. Did people really make-out to music like this in the 1970s? If they did, it’s no wonder that the birth rate dropped so precipitously at the time. Perhaps the Catholic Church should have been more concerned about the music of Dan Hill in 1977 than it was about the use of birth control. The effects of the two on procreation were probably just about the same.

I could go on like this forever, but then you’d miss the unique pleasure involved in listening to “Sometimes When We Touch” for yourself. Just be warned, however, that, once you hear this song, you will never—and I really mean never—be able to get it out of you head again.

Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

1 comment:

  1. It really is a horrible song, but is it any more shallow than a typical period piece by The Carpenters or K.C. and the Sunshine Band?