Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Worst That Could Happen

It's not exactly the death of Michael Jackson, perhaps not even up to the notoriety level of Jim Marshall (I always found "famous rock and roll photographer" to be one of the most intolerably pretentious distinctions around), who also died today, but I found the passing of classic oldies crooner Johnny Maestro a particularly sad and notable passing.

All this is based almost entirely (we also share the same birthday, May 7th, so it's always a bummer to lose a cosmic brother) on my absolute love of his signature 1968 smash hit "The Worst That Could Happen" (as Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge); a cheesy, horn laden, over-the-top pile driver of a ballad that hits all my guilty (then again do I even have a sense of guilt when it comes to the music I like?) pop music pleasure centers. Aside from the sublime joy of karaoking the song and the ridiculous amount of needless gravitas the singer puts on the situation (labeling the target of the song's marriage to be "THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN!"), it places the listener in a really intriguing (possibly confusing) situation with regards to the protagonist's intentions. The song goes along that extremely rare "I love you so much that I want to see you happy with another man...but really I still want you" route. The only other famous hit song I can think of off the top of my head that goes along that sort of conflicted path is Freddie Fender's 1975 country crossover #1 "Before the Next Teardrop Falls".

Actually before today's untimely death, I was bouncing around the idea of doing a post where I did an in-depth look at whether the protagonist from "The Worst That Could Happen" was actually being a romantic hero or just an unbelievable douche by telling his long time love about his feelings and how her marriage to another man would essentially ruin him (at her wedding no less). My view was that a positive or negative assessment would likely correlate with how much one was a fan of romantic comedies, since essentially the entire genre is distilled into the song's three minutes. The listener finds themselves at the tail end of a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl story with the boy desperately attempting to complete that last step at the wedding . People who either actually wholeheartedly believe in the romantic comedy conceit or people who enjoy and appreciate the rule of the romantic comedy would find the protagonist's actions to be romantic and justified. People who despise the manufactured prefabricated nature of the rom com or who don't really believe in the concept of romantic love would think the protagonist's actions are whiny and unreasonable. I'm for the former but no perspective is inherently wrong.

Needless analysis of the song aside, "The Worst That Could Happen" also has a particularly special significance to me as I enter that point in my life where all my friends and peers are starting to get married. For perhaps the next decade or so, I'll likely be attending the marriages of various like-aged friends, acquaintances, relatives as they transition from their unhindered 20s to the domestic stability of their 30s. I may even end up as one of them before the decade is out (hey, anything's possible). I would be forever regretful that if, during this dynamic period of martial transitions, I didn't get at least one opportunity to sing what may possibly be the most inappropriate wedding song ever written (with the possible exception of "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul) to the bride-to-be at an engagement party and have the entire reception fall into horrible awkward silence as I profess my unknown, burning love for them.

Now that would be the best that could happen.

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