Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gawd help us Owl...

So, when on my commute, I will often scan through the FM radio stations before giving up (I inevitably give up, although one decent or intriguing song may slow me for a moment) and either turning on my iPod or pushing in a book on tape. However, lately I have come across a pop song called "Fireflies." This opens with what must be the sappiest lyric in musical history: "You would not believe your eyes/if ten thousand fireflies/lit up the world as you fell asleep." In went the book on tape.

Unfortunately, this is the hit song of the moment, and every experiment with the radio led back to "Fireflies," which only took me to the next, cringe-inducing lyric: "'Cause I'd get ten thousand hugs/from ten thousand lightening bugs." Quickly moving on to the next chapter in the book, I could only think of P.G. Wodehouse's Madeline Bassett, who believe the stars were God's daisy chain and "every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born." Who was the lyricist on this thing, a 12-year-old girl of unique naivete for our time, trapped in a crush on the middle school poet? (Advice to that girl: give it up; he's gay.)

Here's the killer: it's a really catchy tune. It drills into your brain and takes up residence there, to the point where you find yourself humming the chorus later that day.

But about that chorus ... the lyric work becomes somewhat less saccharine, but makes no more sense. "I like to make myself believe/the planet Earth turns slowly." (It kills me to admit it, but I'm singing along as I type that.) I couldn't resist. In a quiet moment at work that day, I did some quick algebra. The earth's circumference at the equator is roughly 29400 miles, and it takes 24 hours to rotate. Rate x Time = Distance. (And so to all you who said, like the character in "Peggy Sue Got Married," that high school math has no purpose. And I just did a search; hard to believe that scene's not on You Tube.) Anyway, quick, easy math shows us traveling at roughly 1,037 mph, due to the rotation of the Earth. I hate to think what quickly is to this guy.

Okay, at this point I'm being obtuse and picky. I know they're talking metaphorically, describing a wish rather than a reality, but now the lyrics are making me crazy. It reached the point where I positively looked forward to the one bright spot in the words, a description that reaches for a kind of American trash version of Asian poetry: "A fox trot above my head/A sock hop beneath my bed/A disco ball hanging by a thread." But then another unfortunate image popped up. Just before that delightfully post-apocalyptic (or perhaps pre-apocalyptic, depending on the state of that thread and the height of the disco ball above our protagonist) vision of the disco ball, my mind filled in an image of David Letterman's late, great Larry "Bud" Melman finishing the triptych with, "A party in my pants!"

By the end, even the lyricist is begging, "Please take me away from here," though I'm sure thousands of distraught teens, with parents who don't understand them and lives destroyed by some humiliating moment in the lunch room are singing along on their tear-stained pillows. But I am unfortunately hooked by the tune, and now actually listen to the whole damn thing when it comes on. Gawd help me ...