Song Subjects: Where Are They Now?

Musicians and songwriters are a lazy bunch of nogoodniks; when they’re not writing or singing about love then they’re almost inevitably writing or singing about a person. Where are the songs about giraffes flying blimps? Where are the songs about streetlamp demons unable to find late-night pharmacies on a Sunday? Call themselves artists? Rubbish! There’s no bloody art in doing the same piece over and over again. Do you think the people at the Louvre would replace their perfectly overrated Mona Lisa every time some nobody with a PR team from Warner turned up and said "This spunky, fresh, exciting teenager has just produced a spunky, fresh, exciting copy of the Mona Lisa but brought it up-to-date with a spunky, fresh, exciting, street look that only people of no taste would mistake for talentless crayoning"? No, they wouldn’t. That’s possibly because they’re French and obstinate but the point stands.

I’m going off on a tangent.

Let’s get back to what I was going to talk about: people in music.

Songs have been written and performed about people for decades. Occasionally, those people-centric ditties are fabricated entities in their entirety. Works of fiction. Musical pieces with dribbles of imagination. Most often, however, the songs are about genuine people that the writers have known in real life. You may be wondering: "I wonder, in my current state of wonderment, just what wonderful thing has happened to the wonderful people mentioned in those wonderful (sometimes) songs." If you’re not wondering that after all the effort I’ve gone to to put that thought into your head then you should probably stop reading now.

Sister Sledge – He’s The Greatest Dancer

From The Song: This funky disco song – sampling heavily from Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It – never tells us The Greatest Dancer’s actual name but we do learn from it that the dancer liked dancing in San Francisco, had a great body, attractive face, wore designer clothes from the likes of Gucci and Fiorucci, and never left the disco alone.

After The Song: Obviously, the greatest dancer was a flaming homosexual. After the song’s release he continued to dance and wow everyone until his abilities started to wane, the result of a hard-to-clear bout of pneumonia. He became known at this time as The Greatest Early Sufferer Of Gay-Related Immune Deficiency and, later, The Greatest HIV-Sufferer. Nowadays, he’s better known as The Greatest Corpse.

Bee Gees – More Than A Woman

From The Song: Controversy has always courted the songs of the brothers Gibb, writers of this track featured in the film Saturday Night Fever. Whether Stayin’ Alive‘s necrophiliac undertones or If I Can’t Have You‘s menacing theme of murderous psychosis or any of their many other well-liked yet surprisingly dark tunes you can be sure that a Bee Gees song is tainted with the macabre, the evil, or the dangerously subversive. More Than A Woman falls within the realms of the former of these categories, dictating a love story between a scientist and his genetic creation. All we know from the song is that the scientific curiosity is female but with male genitalia, has the power of flight, with possibly empathic talents or Borg-like assimilation techniques able to pervade humans with which it comes into contact.

After The Song: The lifeform was nonviable and incinerated.

Michael Jackson – Ben

From The Song: The song, as almost everyone knows, is about a boy and the telepathic rat he befriends. Look it up if you don’t believe me. It is not about Michael Jackson’s rat because Michael did not write the song and, further, he did not have a rat at the time; this was recorded during Michael’s armadillo period. Look it up if you don’t believe me. The song doesn’t really tell us much about Ben other than he formed a symbiotic relationship with a human. This is not atypical behaviour for telepathic rats. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

After The Song: "Ben" turned out to be more of a "Benjamina" – and fell pregnant. The litter of fourteen rat babies ate their mother.

In brief:

  • Kate Bush – Kashka From Baghdad – Killed by American ordnance during the first Gulf War.
  • Kool & The Gang – Joanna – Rejected Kool’s advances and was found strangled in her apartment. No charges were ever filed.
  • Barry Manilow – Mandy – Died on operating table during botched sex-change surgery in Mexico.
  • Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day – Stopped making his day when hit by fire truck.
  • The Smiths – Girlfriend In A Coma – Awoke from coma with chronic screaming disease and was smothered compassionately by Morrissey.

Author: Mark

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  1. Hmm. Noticed that you’re implying that awful things happen to people who are sung about. Well, I believe that Alfie (Michael Caine) has led a rewarding life playing the same part for 40 years, so there!

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  2. Are you kidding? He turned into Jude Law. That’s worse than death.

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