Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reader question: Who is your favorite "walk-on" character from a song?

You may or may not know this about me: I overanalyze song lyrics.  Obsess over them.  Ponder not only their meaning in a strictly psychological Frankfort School context, but also in a more Berkleyan idealist way.  I'm one of the few people to have read Crittenden's Unreality: The Metaphysics of Fictional Objects and complained about it not being deep enough.  Okay, I'm probably one of the few people to have read it at all.  But I digress...

What I want to talk about today- with you, dear reader- are those characters mentioned briefly in songs who make you say "Gee, I want to know that person's story.  I wish the song was about him!"  Not the main character.  Johnny from "Shooting Star" is right out.  We know his story.

So here are some of my favorite "walk-ons".  Join in on the comments to tell me yours!

Uncle Dwaler- "Tijuana Hit Squad" by Deadbolt

 This one is a classic.  We don't know much about Uncle Dwaler, but what we do learn is fucked up.

My line of work is a family tradition, and we never worry about ammunition
My Uncle Dwaler has a heart of pure cold- he said he was there on the grassy knoll

And judging by everything his nephew, the narrator, gets into, it's totally believable.

Liquid Melvin- "In France They Kiss On Main Street" by Joni Mitchell

I love this album.  I have loved this album since before I could read.  That fucking snake.  Whoooh.  Anyway, who is Liquid Melvin?  What does it mean that he has a "hotwire head"?  Is he a cyborg?  Why wasn't he on the cover?

In other news, I'm going to cover this song with my doom metal band, and call it "In France They Fuck On Main Street".  I guess I need to start a doom metal band.

Klaus and The Rooster- "Here At The Western World" by Steely Dan

This is actually kind of a famous one.  William Gibson, noted Steely Dan fan, threw a couple of characters named after this duo into one of his novels.  But he didn't explain who they were in the context of the song, so I think it's fair game.

Down at the Lido they welcome you with sausage and beer
Klaus and The Rooster have been there too, 
but lately they spend their time here

The eponymous bar is just as much a mystery in this song as K & The R, primarily defined by what it is not, and who goes there, and how you get in, and who is puking on the stairs.

And can we dismiss the possibility that the second half of this duo is actually Jerry Cantrell's dad?  No.  We cannot.

Ramona and Amanda- "Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer" by Morphine

This song.  Man.  This whole album.

And yes, I know in the lyrics it's

Ramona and a man do a tango dip,
cheek to cheek, hip to hip
come on

Just let me have my illusions.  Picturing Ramona and Amanda dancing like that... ahhhhh.

The Killer- "The End" by The Doors

It can be argued that The Killer here is the focus of the song- but I will argue against it.  He comes and goes like a summer rain.  With a fucking knife.  I've actually written and gotten published a short story imagining who this guy is, so I'll leave it at that.  No, actually, I'll leave the link for you to buy that book.

You- "Driving Your Girlfriend Home" by Morrissey

 There are so many I could choose from here.  And of course we already know who Pinky, Cuban, and Patrick Noonan are.  I think this was a good one to close on, because the "you" here that is ruining the poor girl's life could be anyone- hell, it could be me.  It could be YOU.

That's it from me!  Leave your favorite walk-ons in the comments!

1 comment:

Garrett Cook said...

Why the actual fuck is Einstein disguised as Robin Hood in Desolation Row? What is this monk jealous of? Einstein's most likely very poor Robin Hood get up? The sailors in the beauty parlor? I'm confused.