Monday, May 29, 2006


Here's a bunch of songs of depressing, bitter, mordant and cynical songs for ill folks from lesser known ill folks and famous folks who found their bank accounts get lighter thanks to the dark material.
Since this IS the illfolks blog, there's no point adding well-known miserable folk like Leonard Cohen or Morrissey or Charles Aznavour, nor sensitive guys that killed themselves, or famous sad songs (that say so much).

The Television Personalities - Sick Again

You've never heard of them and you never will. That's 'cause they're sick. They also seem to have set their Casio keyboard to violin and accordion simultaneously, which will make your cat cry. Thanks guys, for the musical equivalent of an IV drip.

Anna Ternheim - To Be Gone
Anna's a depressed Swede who sings pretty tunes with suicidal tendencies: "Leave the body, leave the mind...I just happen to feel so alone....I just wanna be gone." Her accent is thick enough to make "body" sound "bawdy..." Sad girls ARE sexy, especially when they're trying to shuck off their mortal coil via a bossa nova shuffle.

Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - She Won't
A twangy dirge...a portent that Lee & Nancy Volume 3 was not going to be a hit. Did they know that their album would not even get a U.S. or U.K. release?

Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer - Oh Death
Traditional folk music is as close to a death experience as you get in life.

Jerry Yester-Judy Henske - Mrs. Connor
Yester was briefly with The Association. Here he sings lead on a moody number with lyrics from then-wife Judy Henske: "When death comes for Mrs. Connor, he will lay his heavy leg on her and groan." Necrophilia at its best. No wonder Andrew Vachss is a Henske fan.

Anna Singt - Gloomy Sunday
The famous Hungarian suicide song, which did indeed lead to documented suicides continues to be covered by new generations of depressives. Anna and coffin-sized piano.

Thea Gilmore - Everybody's Numb
Get the zeitgeist...they will soon be selling a topical anesthetic you massage into the scalp. Thea has plenty more where this came from.

Pamela Morgan - It Ain't Funny

No, it isn't. This one's about the economic woes of an age when most fish is now farm-raised and bad for you.

Mary Gauthier - I Drink
It's almost cheating to include a country song like this, but Mary is a crossover artist. She's cross over country music, pop music, ballads, and most everything else. A balladeer for the mental dust bowl.

Mathilde Santing - Wonderful Life

With an opening guitar riff unwittingly referencing the start of "Suicide is Painless," Santing floats in to assure us, "no need to run and hide." Except this minor key ballad is as lively as a beached jellyfish. "Don't give up," Kate Bush sang, but she hadn't heard this kind of optimism.

Eva Cassidy - Ain't No Sunshine
Sad songs say so much...and so does the way there's been a cottage industry mourning a pretty blonde singer who died young.

Beth Nielsen Carpenter & John Hiatt - World of Hurt
The truth: "It's a world of hurt, nothin' works. It's a lonely little planet made of dust and dirt. Who'd ever think that in the midst of this, something as beautiful as love exists?" Yeah? For how long? See "Hurt" by Trent Reznor and look under "dirt, my empire of."

The Magic Numbers - Which Way to Happy?
Sort of a gay Leonard Cohen with a wan chick singing in the background, and a vibe of being totally wilted. Nice. All too often, artists now go from total unknowns to superstars via a debut album! But are they happy? No? Good.

Townes Van Zandt - Waiting Around to Die
No longer an accurate title.

Kendra Smith (of Big Star) - Holocaust
Why rhyme moon and June when you can open with: "Your eyes are almost dead. Can't get out of bed..."

Randy Newman - It's a Jungle Out There

As usual, he's tap dancing on the edge, and really, if you can't find humor in impending disaster, then you might as well be Morrissey. This pungent one minute theme song is for a TV show involving a germ-phobic Arab.

To reference Jann Arden and Sheryl Crow...Happy? If it makes you happy...
download here
And if you just want a quickie from Mathilde Santing...


September 14, 2001 concert at the Hell Blues Festival, Norway.

Only two men remained from the original 1967 band. You see them here, in photos from the Hell concert. Singer/pianist Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher are now locked in a legal dispute over Fisher's uncredited contribution of the famous organ solo that opens "Whiter Shade of Pale."

Procol's muscular rock music was in contrast to the ill lyrics of Keith Reid, whose Dylan-influenced words self-admittedly "wallowed in a morass" that darkly verged on pretentiousness. Their few chart hits involved a woman turning from ghostly to a "A Whiter shade of Pale" (dead) and the grim philosophizing over the corpse of a "Conquistador." Focused on destruction, torment and painful self-consciousness with mere glimpses toward nirvana, Procol's hardest rocking songs bubble in a cauldron of bile ("Piggy Pig Pig" and "Bringing Home the Bacon") and are steaming with wretched excess ("Whiskey Train") or angry angst ("Typewriter Torment"). Their prettiest songs tend to be eerie ("Salty Dog"), decadent ("Grand Hotel") or filled with semi-disguised put-downs ("Homburg"). There's not a song in this set that does not have an undercurrent of pessimism, anger or despair.

Any band critically praised for a blend of classical music, eclectic lyrics and R&B blues is bound to suffer, especially one with an intellectual name (Latin for "Beyond these Things") so Procol Harum remains beyond fame, often written off as a one-hit (or two-hit, counting "Conquistador") wonder. Concert Note: This is one of those times when The Commodore chooses to sing the "extra verse" omitted from the original "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Morbid Note: the band pronounces its last name "Horrum," closer to horror than a harem.

Procol Harum Live Concert? Go to... OH, it's HELL, Folks!

Friday, May 19, 2006


Honor Blackman (see April 19th posting) was the only 60's femme spy to release a whole album: "Everything I've Got." Here's another song to honor Blackman. Plus...
Some contemporaries tried for the singles charts.
Barbara Feldon, known for a sexy growl in hair-care commercials, and then "Get Smart," made references to both via "99."
When Linda Thorson joined The Avengers, sixties in full swing, she swung. Tara King could do one thing better than Emma Peel: sing a pop song. Of course, Emma would never have considered such a thing.
Always the trouper, when Diana Rigg, actress, was required to be nude on stage, she was nude. When she was required to sing, she sang. "Forget Yesterday" was recorded in 1972 during her run in "Jumpers."
And later she sang the number below, "Could I Leave You" in a Sondheim musical.
It's a slim entry because if Anne "Honey West" Francis and Stefanie "Girl from UNCLE" Powers sang, they kept it a secret. Maybe in the shower, only...
Diana Rigg
Linda Thorson

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


12 versions of ANGEL OF THE MORNING

When premarital sex was still a very troubling "sin," this tune turned up, just a hot skip and a hump away from "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Progress: THIS girl thinks she can have a devilishly good time all night and still be an "angel of the morning."
Especially since a man wrote this: Chip Taylor, offering an alibi for chippies.
Saintly martyr Merilee's Rush to judge her one-night-stand:
"There's no need to take a stand for it was I who chose to start. I see no reason to take me home. I'm old enough to face the dawn...Just call me angel of the morning...Then slowly turn away from me."

Even Humphrey Bogart couldn't follow that instruction without busting a gut laughing. "You're good, angel, very good. Now I'll slowly turn away, and you can leave...and I'll change the sheets..."
More from this sanctimonious slut:
"If morning's echo says we've sinned. Well, it was what I wanted now. And if we're victims of the night. I won't be blinded by the light. Just call me angel of the morning."
Can I just call you a cab and sleep an extra hour?
"A pretty dirge, is like a melody..." Share a load with:
Chrissie Hynde
Merilee Rush (original and re-make)
Joya Landis
Barbara Jones
Skeeter Davis
P.P. Arnold
Juice Newton, etc. etc.
The song ends with this:
"I wont beg you stay with me. Through the tears! Of the days! Of the years!"
OK, bitch, bye!

Get lucky. Download the ANGELS

Update November 2011: A few songs have been re-upped individually:



Ever have a tune keep playing over and over in your brain?
That's 'cause...there are WINDMILLS in your mind. Really. And they respond especially well to catchy kitsch.
Seemingly put together as a homework assignment for Similes 101, "Windmills of Your Mind" offered spooky psychedelia via the French version of Mancini, Mr. Michel Legrand, and English words supplied by middle-aged hack lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman. They toss snowballs down a mountain and think the world is "like an apple whirling silently in space."
First line sets our theme:
The lyrics get so numbing Jazz singer Carmen Lundy mistakenly sings of a "clock whose hands are SLEEPING" past the minutes of its face.
The song seems to be saying that as endless as the world is, life isn't and love isn't.
Actual lyric variation: you have a choice of "when you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware that the autumn leaves were turning to the color of her hair," OR, "when you knew that it was over in the autumn of goodbyes, for the moment you could not recall the color of his eyes." The latter is represented here by Ms Lefeber.
Years ago, comedian Frank Fay made a living satirizing the lyrics of pop tunes like "Tea for Two." It's a cruel trick. A cheap trick. So we'll surrender any further impulse to insult.
Fact is, the song's circles and spirals and wheels are kind of mesmerizing, they are "words that jangle in your head" (a nod to Bob's Tambourine Man perhaps). Like some Dylan tunes, notably "Lenny Bruce," there are some good lines jammed against bad ones. In Bob's case, in that song, it was "they stamped him and they labeled him, like they do with pants and shirts" followed by the good "he fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts." Here, a cliche about lovers leaving footprints in the sand is followed by: "Is the sound of distant drumming
just the fingers of your hand?" Not too shabby. There are also some effective and eerie images: "Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own..." or "Like a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream." Like, you gotta like that.
Like, listen for yourself. Over and over.
You get 25 different versions (five are French, known as Les Moulins de mon Coeur) including Legrand, Frida Boccara, Dorothy Ashby, Mathilde Santing, Paul Muriat, James Galway and of special interest, the top 10:
1. Psychedelic and slow: Vanilla Fudge
2. Eerie border colic: Baja Marimba Band
3. Oliver Twists: Trinity Boys Choir
4. Disco Dizziness: Sally Anne Marsh
5. A gargle of goo: Jim Nabors
6. Swanky swinging: Judith Lefeber
7. Vintage French Fluff: Vicky Leandros
8. Scat with Scuffy Grapelli-style Violin: Carmen Lundy
9. Accapella Angst: The Lettermen
10. How Elton Might've Done It: Jose Feliciano


For the full lyrics, homage to Dusty Springfield and a spooky photo, see: Lady Jayes's Page