While driving to work recently I heard the song Copocabana
on the radio. I'm not sure if I've ever heard it all the way through, but I was in need of a little shoulder shuffling goodness to burn away the gloom so I left it on and in doing so listened to one of the saddest songs I have heard. Did you know this was a sad song? It's basically about this showgirl, her name was Lola, and she has this love of hers, Tony, who works the bar. They work from 8 till 4. I know, you're probabaly thinking the same as me, those aren't bad hours. But wait, they're from 8 AT NIGHT, till 4 IN THE MORNING. Still, I mean, they're in show business, they chose that life and I'm sure it has it's benefits. An issue for the unions maybe, if they were forced to do it 7 days a week but nothing for me to weep about.
Anywho, this dude comes in Rico, with a diamond, and summons Lola over, with a whistle (what a cad). He goes too far with Lola and hot headed Tony rushes in, tables and chairs get smashed, it's a good old bar brawl, I'm loving the action being played out by the speakers, it's just as if I was back in Slots of Fun in Vegas.
Then it gets serious. A single shot is fired out, and, just as Barry is about to enter the chorus he devilishly lezaves us with the question "but just who shot who?" .
Woah. I'm listening to the familiar cheesy chorus I've heard so often but I'm in limbo. Barry you bastard, why toy with us?? Then, almost playfully he drops the emotional bomb..."At the coca, coca cobana....she (Lola) lost her love...".
Then the rest of the song is dedicated to describe the sorry aftermath that is Lola's life without her love...
"Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl
But that was 30 years ago, when they used to have a show
Now it's a disco, but not for Lola
Still in the dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she's lost her mind!"
This got me thinking about other trojan horse songs, masquerading as fun, finger clicking, happy go lucky favourites, while holding within them a sadness of Shakeperian scale ready to loot and pillage your soul.
Here's some more:Annie I'm Not Your Daddy - Kid Creole and the Cocunuts
You want a conga, you want it quick? Just whip this song on and watch it go! Hold on a second though, listen a bit closer and you'll hear a tale of a poor girl being told that the singer of the song is not actually her father.
Never so cruel and callous a line has formed the background to a limbo competition as:
"If I was in your blood, then you wouldn't be so ugly".
Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight and the Pips.
I love this song, especially the bit where the backing singers go "whoop whoop", pulling on the chain of the train in their minds eye as they hurry through the night to their glorious destination. The lyrics however point to dreams lost in LA; the journey East is an admission of defeat, (proving too much for the man) and the singer solemnly chooses to leave behind her life to follow her love:
"I'd rather live with him in his world, than live without him in mine"
Not one, but two dreams shattered. The journey is made all the more sad if we think about how they woud've been feeling on the journey out to LA; the hope and smiles, all to be dashed. And now the romance that was the rocket fuel for their westward journey to the stars and beyond has turned into the shackles round the singer's ankles, their love is maybe the one thing they have left; equal parts overwhelming and life affirming self sacrice and loyalty combined with desperation and fear of losing the one last thing of meaning in her life.
That's all I could think of, but as always, feel free to add in comments...
Labels: bitter sweet songs