There are many songs where something horrible is being said with an upbeat mood. The Misfits made a career out of singing really enthusiastically about raping woman and killing babies. The Mountain Goats sing about terrible things but maintained a rather high sense of humour about the topic by going way over the top with everything. There are many examples of this.
I never much cared for the Headstones. When I was growing and listening to the radio, I liked “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” but that was a cover, and once I heard the original by the Travelling Wilburys there was no going back. I really liked all the things “When Something Stands for Nothing” stood for (rock and roll, comic books, and bubble gum) but in honesty, it is not a great song, five or six out of ten, a C-grade song, good but not great. Still I held the Headstones in high regard, people always told me the rest of their stuff was great, but I never found the time or interest to explore the Headstones beyond “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” and “When Something Stand for Nothing.”
Years later, one day at work, one of my coworkers was playing an album, and I did not know what it was, and I was not enjoying it, at all. Eventually the song “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” came up and I knew who I was listening too. I was so disappointed. I had heard great things about the Headstones and frankly I was not impressed.
Later I expressed my disappointment with my best friend Craig Kemery, and he casually reaffirmed that “’Cemetery’ is cool.”
So I listened to Headstones – “Cemetery.” Well when you are right, you are right, and as things typically go, Craig was right. Cemetery is a good song. Maybe when I heard the Headstones’ album “Picture of Health” it was the wrong place and wrong time. Maybe I was in a bad mood because I was working myself ragged and was in no mood to listen to anything. Maybe I was just untrusting of my coworkers as many of them were idiots. Maybe a lot of different things could sway my thoughts to less than complimentary dispositions. I’m only human, after all.
“Cemetery” I feel is a good song for Halloween, it about one of the scariest themes of all, necrophilia. As I mentioned earlier bands like the Misfits sang many songs about terrible things but performed them with an upbeat rhythm and expression, which made the violence and darkness in the things they said seem comical. The Headstones accomplish something very similar in “Cemetery,” singing rather positively about his affinity for his girlfriend who is in fact dead.
“Went down to the cemetery, looking for love,
Got there and my baby was buried, I had to dig her up.”
It’s fun. Somehow Headstones made necrophilia fun. That is no small feat.
“Cemetery” is really about being in love with a zombie girl, which when taken literally is totally nuts, but when done with a sense of self aware silliness does make for a funny scenario and fun song.
This makes me think of the now long standing fad of people wanting to have sex with vampires. When you think about it, literally falling in love with a vampire is totally idiotic, because vampires are blood thirsty monsters who will kill you and have no qualms about it. Yet here we are, vampire love movies are more popular than ever, even though it completely misses the point of what a vampire is and when you think about it, it really misses the point of about what love is.
Are zombies next?
With the popularity of shows like “The Walking Dead,” and the surging popularity of zombie movies, it may only be a matter of time before the same idiots who think having sex with vampires is literally cool, might take to falling in love with zombies too, if so, that means Headstones were way ahead of their time writing a fun quirky song about undead love.
So in summary; vampires and zombies are cool, having sex with them is not, but dark humour about having sex with them is okay. “Cemetery” is a really good song, about being in love with zombie girl but it knows it’s silly and is therefore okay. I hope that clears things up.
Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly