Sunday, December 12, 2004

Depressing Songs, Cont.

I had a post a couple of months ago about the most depressing songs ever written, but I somehow forgot to mention one of my favorites, from the 1962 musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale (script by John Weidman, from his novel about a young hustler trying to make it in the garment trade in the '30s). This is "What Are They Doing To Us Now?" sung by Barbra Streisand -- the young, still incredibly talented, only moderately egomaniacal Streisand whose bio in Playbill described her as "Born in Madagascar and Reared in Rangoon." Composer-lyricist Harold Rome created a genuine life-sucks anthem with an ethnic flavor; a lot of the lyrics in Wholesale create a Yiddish flavor through inverted word order and such. So get the cast album of Wholesale -- an excellent musical that deserves to be remembered for more than Streisand's debut -- and play this song if you really want to reinforce your bad mood:

“What are they Doing To Us Now” by Harold Rome


As we get older, there’s nothing surer,
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
Those little problems all start to pile up
And it gets harder to keep a smile up.
But we keep hoping, as old dreams linger,
That we’ll get lucky some fine day.
Then once again fate gives us the finger,
Once again, with a sigh,
We look up to the sky
With a quizzical eye
And quietly say:


What are they doin’ to us now?
What’s the latest ruin to us now?
Someone up there is gettin’ careless,
What are they doin’ to us now, anyhow?
What are they doin’ to us now?


Makes no difference if a man is slave or king,
Born he always is to pain and suffering.
Naked he’s pushed out his new life to begin,
Ain’t enough the awkward way that he came in?
Then before he understands just why he's here,
Klop, comes from the doc a big smack on the rear.
From then on, continuous without a stop,
Life's the same old story, always klop, klop, klop.

Science keeps advancing, always on the run,
All they seem to do is take from life the fun.
Smoking, oh, no, no, it wears your heart away,
Drinking shrinks for you the liver day by day.
Eating makes you fat, your weight you've got to check,
Sex you do, you don't, you end a nervous wreck.
Future generations we had ought to warn:
Hey there, do yourself a favor, don't get born.

Repeat Refrain

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