Let's talk about your favorite "upbeat" song that is actually quite fucked up

I like Bobby Darin. A lot. Lord help me if I’m ever in a bar with a jukebox, because you’re going to be listening to him all night. Thankfully for the town I’m in, there seems to be some law against jukes. In the old country, there were jukes. Almost every bar had a jukebox, but no bar had that stupid countertop crackbox thing that every bar 'round here seems to have. But enough about that.

Aside from Mr. Darin’s most popular song, “Mack The Knife,” with an upbeat tune about something slightly less than upbeat, “Artificial Flowers” is a quite fucked up song that people swing to. My lords, this song is about a girl whose parents died when she quite young, so she spent her entire life working tirelessly just to get by, and her entire life’s efforts, making artificial flowers, did nothing other than make enough money for her to get by… for rich people who gave not two shits about her. And then the girl died. “Fashioned from Annie’s despair.” What the hell? This is not an uplifting song. Why are people dancing to this?

I actually happen to be a fan of “Whoa, that’s actually really screwed up once you stop grooving to the rhythm” songs, so let us discuss. Let us talk about songs that make you move and groove before you say, “Man, this song is really fucked up.”

It’s not exactly upbeat, but Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman” is a guy who is in denial about this totally manipulative bitch, despite the fact that he sees exactly what she does to everyone else. That’s pretty fucked up.

Then there are The Police. If they ever produced a song that isn’t pretty dysfunctional I don’t know of it, except for “Tea In The Sahara”, of course.


I grew up loving Gentle on My Mind as sung by Glen Campbell, and written by John Hartman. It was just so wonderfully flowing and free, backroads and rivers flowing gentle and all that.

But listen to it. There’s this guy who’s glad he’s never had to marry his girlfriend. She just takes him in whenever he shows up at her door, I guess. He bangs women, and then leaves them to cry. But this one woman doesn’t care, she just takes him in regardless.

It’s your typical Sixties “to hell with what the establishment expects of us” screed. But by the final verse, he’s cold and he’s drinking down soup from a tin can in a trainyard. He imagines being with his ever-patient girlfriend. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you prefer sleeping out in the cold and drinking soup from a can in a trainyard to being married to your girlfriend, she must be the world’s biggest bitch. Or maybe she just got sick of his bummy ass and threw him out. I hope it’s the latter.

Still, great sounding song.

You sir would LOVE Warren Zevon Songs then. “Excitable Boy” springs to mind first as the #1 song in this catagory, I always liked “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money” but I guess you KNOW what you’re in for with a title like that- same with “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”

If we wanna get really interesting- “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” by the Beatles. Clang clang!

As stated in an earlier post of mine along the same lines, Komm, Süsser Tod. The song is in English, only the title’s in German (it means “Come, sweet death” if you’re curious. So… yeah).
It’s been the source of quite a few mid-song “WTH ?!” moments over the years among my friends, despite the lyrics being extremely up front, in your face horrible from the get go.

Lyle Lovett’s L.A. County sounds like an upbeat song about friendship:

[quote=Lyle Lovett]
And the lights of L.A. County
Look like diamonds in the sky
When you’re driving through the hours
With an old friend at your side

One of the verses even has a wedding, but the narrator of the song shows up and shoots both bridge and groom at the altar.

Lovett once did a live request show and a caller told him that they used the song at their wedding. Lyle asked, “Do you really know what that song is about?”

** Do They Know Its Christmas** is a very disturbing holiday song.

Exhibit A: * Thank God It’s Them Insteaaaaad of YOU*.

It is so much better that the poor people in Africa are starving than you.

Exhibit B: There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas.

Snowfall over the entire continent is ummmm…not happening. An area in South Africa has had snow once in a little over two decades. Not exactly a common occurence.

Exhibit C: *The greatest gift they’ll get this year is liiiiiiiiife *

So they can live to starve another year! How AWESOME!

Exhibit D: Do they know it’s Christmas time at allllllll?

Well, since 40 % of Africa is Muslim, the real question is do they care?

Kinky Friedman owns this catagory; i.e. “They Ain’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” and “Getting Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.”

The obvious one is “Semi-Charmed Life.” A very happy song at least partially about crystal meth.

“Run for your Life” on the Beatles’ *Rubber Soul *album. Here we have a “wicked guy” who was “born with a jealous mind” threatening to kill his girl friend if she cheats on him or tries to leave. Upbeat, catchy tune with lyrics about a controlling, dominating, potentially violent creep. I understand John Lennon regretted having written it.

Not to be a party pooper or anything, but there’s already an ongoing thread about happy-sounding songs that aren’t quite so happy once you pay attention to the lyrics.

I nominate"Counting flowers on the wall"by the Statler Brothers, from the soundtrack of the movie Pulp Fiction.

Love this song, but I wouldn’t describe it as upbeat.

I like that you call me sir. Has Mr. Zevon ever made a song that wasn’t horribly depressing? He writes about death, and that’s it, right?

While that song is indeed screwy, “upbeat” is not a word I would use to describe it.

Oh, Kinky, why aren’t you governor of Texas?

Love this song. Agreed.

I think I was in a mood last night. I was drinking rum and listening to some of my favorite songs. The thought occurred to me, “Hey, some of my favorite songs are really messed up.”

Lou Christie’s Lightnin’ Strikes is extremely upbeat.

It’s about a guy asking his girl to wait around for him for when he’s ready to settle down. In the meantime, he’s going to go bang as many chicks as possible. As this is the making of a man.

I would have to go with Nick Lowe’s Marie Provost. It’s a very poppy, classic I-V-IV song telling (with much dark humor) the true and tragic story of silent film actress Marie Prevost… featuring the following classic couplet:

She was a winner
That became a doggie’s dinner

Well, “Mutineer” is actually quite sweet and sentimental. “Mr. Bad Example” and “Leave My Monkey Alone” are humorous songs which, unlike most humorous songs, bear up to repeated listening, as are “Turbulence” and “Networking.” Maybe I’m being a little defensive here because Zevon has touched me in a way no other songwriter/singer ever has. It’s like the sumbitch was reading my mail or something.

I’ve loved Zevon’s songs since a friend in HS sang Roland in a talent show. One of his last songs that he made before he died was “My Shits Fucked Up.” It’s brilliant and kind of sad all rolled up.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Miss Gale Garnett, performing “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine”. For some reason, when I hear this, I picture a Pixar Studios almost-real world, of sunflowers and split rail fences and a cute little farm in the country. There’s gingham and denim involved. … Year’s gone by? Gotta split, bye now!

"Excitable Boy’ is extremely upbeat sounding and dancable in beat and it was the song I came in here to post - I remember hearing it at my high school dance and thinking “they obviously never listened to the lyrics”. The penultimate verse is about the “excitable boy” raping and murdering a girl after taking her to the “junior prom”.

Andrew Gold had a top ten hit with the song “Lonely Boy,” which is some messed up song from pretty much all angles.

It is an upbeat song about a boy who’s life is all messed up because <wait for it> his parents had another baby


Gold, who was also in a bad called Wax (“Right Between The Eyes”), he is probably best known for writing the song “Thank You For Being A Friend,” which became the theme to “The Golden Girls.”