Friday, April 29, 2005

Song of the Week 4/29/05

Andrew Gold - "Lonely Boy"

This is quite possibly one of my favorite songs from the '70s.

It's also quite possibly one of the worst songs of the '70s.

When I was a kid, I loved this song, most likely because I was an only child raised in a small town with one traffic light. I had no friends anywhere near where I lived, so I spent all of my childhood by myself or thrown in with a bunch of adults in my house. When I went through my initial nostalgia for the '70s in 1990 and 1991, hosting a very popular show on my college station called Artists Only: The 70s, this song got played rather loud in the studio. And if you read the Song of the Week two weeks ago, you know I definitely considered myself a "Lonely Boy" back then.

The past two Fridays at work I played a bunch of '70s songs from ITunes to entertain me and my fellow co-workers, and "Lonely Boy" got stuck in everyone's heads at one point or another. And then I listened to it again last Saturday morning as I left a complete stranger's house after spending the night there (it's a LONG and bizarre story), and it seemed so appropriate that I started laughing out loud while walking down 2nd place in my beloved Brooklyn. Later that day I played it for my concert pal Moria after we saw The Shins and I had told the story of my crazy night. She had never heard the song, but I could tell by her head bobbing that its hookiness had snagged her, even if the song is three years older than her.

So you might be saying to yourself, "So why is it one of the worst songs of the 70s if you like it so much?" Here I ask you, dear reader, to take a glance at the lyrics:

He was born on a summer day,
1951
And with a slap of a hand he had landed
As an only son.

His mother and father said
What a lovely boy
We'll teach him what we learned,
Ah, yes, just what we learned.
We'll dress him up warmly
And we'll send him to school,
We'll teach him how to fight
To be nobody's fool

Oh, oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy.

In the summer of '53
His mother brought him a sister.
And she told him,
"We must attend to her needs,
She's so much younger than you."

Well he ran down the hall and he cried,
Oh how could his parents have lied?
When they said he was their only son,
He thought he was the only one…

Oh, oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy.

Goodbye mama!
Goodbye you!
Goodbye papa!
I'm pushing on through…

He left home on a winter day,
1969
And he hoped to find all the love
He had lost in that earlier time

Well, his sister grew up
And married a man,
He gave her a son,
Ah, yes, a lovely son.
They dressed him up warmly
They sent him to school,
They taught him how to fight,
To be nobody's fool…

Oh, oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy.

Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Oh, oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy,
Oh what a lonely boy.

WOW--talk about some of the most self-pitying, navel gazing lyrics even put down in a song! It slams his parents, his sister and his nephew, all in the space of four minutes. I wonder what family gatherings were like after this song came out. Maybe that's why he followed it up with "Thank You For Being a Friend"--he probably needed to mend some bridges.

1 comment:

Bruce Hartley said...

while i agree that Lonely Boy is one of the best songs of the 70's, but definitely not one of the worst! sure, he's full of venom, but wasn't harry chapin spewing that same venom in "cat's in the cradle"? i feel very old when someone at work told me that he knows "Thank You For Being a Friend" as The Golden Girls theme....and didn't even KNOW it was a single before that. crazy kids!