Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where have all the death and disaster songs gone?

  While listening to some music on my way to the set this week, I heard the old Tom Jones song "Delilah." It's a first person perspective where Jones sings about going to his girlfriend's house and seeing her doing the nasty with some other guy. He waits until morning, watches the guy leave, then confronts her. She laughs at him, and he stabs her to death.


  That's pretty heavy material for a song. Can't see anybody trying to release that track nowadays. It got me thinking- there were a lot of songs like that in the 70's. Murder. Death. Disaster. What the Hell was going on in the 70's that made people want to sing about death so much?
  Consider these: Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," about a cargo ship that sank in Lake Superior in 1975 with a loss of all hands. Then there's Bobby Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe," about a young girl whose lover jumps off a bridge to his death. There's also Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John," about a big, tough miner who dies saving his fellow miners in a cave-in. Along those same lines, there's also the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster." Look at pretty much every song that Marty Robbins ever sang, and you'll find a plethora of "death tunes."
  Granted, some of these songs were in the late 60's, but I heard them on the air a lot in the 70's when I was a kid. It seems so odd to hear these kinds of songs now, in an age where we have Colby Caillat singing about how she gets "tinglies in a silly place." It's interesting to see how the times have changed. We certainly have our fair share of death and disaster going on in the world. Why don't people sing about that? I guess it's better to try to have cheerful songs or some kind of escapism, or, in the case of most rap, songs about how much wealth and loose women you have.
  Not a lot of story in that. I guess that's why some music endures, and some is forgotten in a few weeks time.


  1. You used the word "plethora" - that's one of my favorites!

  2. Haha! Me too! How you doing, lady? Long time no see!