Music intended to be scary, using the trappings of horror, rarely is. The Misfits are perhaps more associated with horror music than any other, and yet for all of their excellent music, none of it is very scary. The same is true for legions of other punk and metal bands, trying so hard to be scary or edgy or disturbing that they end up as charicatures.
Some music, though, really is scary. Not much – especially because familiarity with a song tends to blunt its ability to scare – but some. This is the first in a short series of articles about songs that I find truly scary.
“after this, there will be heads …. on different bodies”
“Good, Clean Fun” comes on like standard Cat Power, slow, lilting. The voice comes in just how you’d expect – half whispered, half mumbled, all pained. And it goes on like that.
The song can be heard as being in the mainstream of Cat Power’s songs about the relationship between men and women and the fraught nature of sexuality and its fallout. It seems like a song about a woman being used up and discarded by a man after he gets what he wants. Like a song about a woman trying to hold on but knowing she’ll give in. But that line nags. Heads on different bodies.
That line echoes throughout the song, wrapped in a lazy gauze of lyrics and picked-out guitar notes. It lends an air of desperation, an instability to the narrator. Suddenly, the narrator doesn’t seem so desperate or lovelorn – she seems tilting on the edge of a mental breakdown.
And then there’s that image – heads on different bodies. Chilling, to imagine, I think. A non-sensical, irrational image that lives at the heart of a nightmare.
An interior landscape is often scarier to me than anything acted out on the exterior. The essential unknowability of other people is the most frightening thing in the world to me. And here, it’s played out in just one line.
One act, one thing passing between the man and the woman in this song will lead to a radically shifted interior landscape, one in which actual physiologies will change. That’s scary.
Appears on: What Would the Community Think? (Matador Records)