Friday, December 16, 2005

The Only Way to Win

A few weeks ago, work was playing an album of TV themes. In addition to the happiness of putting books on shelves to the tune of “The A-Team” and “The Facts of Life,” this music also reminded me of when I first heard the lyrics to “M*A*S*H.” On the show, the theme is presented in a purely instrumental form — and probably for the best, seeing as how the lyrics are some of the most depressing I’ve ever heard.

Here are the lyrics of the song. Oh, by the way, the title is “Suicide Is Painless.”
Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see that…

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it's too late and…


The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
So this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger — watch it grin, but...


A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
and I replied “Oh, why ask me?”
It’s a small joy that I get out of such morbid, maudlin lyrics are an integral part of such an American TV show. I mean, come on — “The sword of time will pierce our skins”? “A brave man once requested me / to answer questions that are key”? That’s not just bad writing. That’s hilariously bad writing from an angst-ridden twelve-year-old. This song is so cliché that Marilyn Manson does a cover of it.

But that’s me — just tainting nostalgia any chance I can get. Hope it turns out that the theme to “Bonanza” has startlingly homoerotic lyrics.

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