The comedy of man starts like this
Our brains are way too big for our mothers' hips
And so Nature, she divines this alternative
We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end
Is kind enough to fill us in
And, babies, that's pretty much how it's been ever since
Today we take the opportunity to look into more detail at a song from a recently released album, the title track of the former Fleet Foxes drummer, and third album as Father John Misty, highlighted in the Vinyl Tap selection a couple of weeks ago. Why is it already critically acclaimed? Perhaps because its wry humour captures the absurdity of the human condition, at a time when the world seems crazier than ever. Josh Tillman’s musical style could have come anytime in the last 50 years, somewhere between alt-country and 70s piano and guitar singer-songwriter in the Al Stewart or even early Elton John vein, but with the acerbic humour of John Grant. He then broadens his description in the wider absurdities of how stupid human beings can be, almost describing us as if viewed by aliens visiting Earth in the third person:
Their languages just serve to confuse them
Their confusion somehow makes them more sure
They build fortunes poisoning their offspring
And hand out prizes when someone patents the cure
Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?
What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?
These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods
So they can go on being godless animals.
As the song builds up with a more orchestral power, the video filled with images of Donald Trump, religious fervour and other behaviour, we think the singer is removing himself further from humanity, leaving a picture that “pure comedy” is really self-destructive tragedy. And yet he ends, rather brilliantly, returning to the first-person plural, with a sincere, and melancholy final line. That’s the comedy and the tragedy of it:
Oh comedy, it's like something that a madman would conceive!
The only thing that seems to make them feel alive is the struggle to survive
But the only thing that they request is something to numb the pain with
Until there's nothing human left
Just random matter suspended in the dark
I hate to say it, but each other's all we got.
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