All That Glitters is Gold - Father John Misty - "Pure Comedy"
This is All That Glitters is Gold, a recurring piece about some of my favorite artists, albums, tracks, and live shows. Here I will write about the music I love, most of which inspired me to start Alt Revue in the first place. I'm excited to highlight this music and talk about how it has impacted me. I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into some of my favorites!
Today I want to talk about one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite alt artists, Father John Misty. The track is "Pure Comedy". While it was not initially one of my favorite songs of his, I cannot help appreciate the masterpiece it is. I think that it gets overlooked in the grand scheme of Father John Misty songs because it precedes the infinitely popular "Total Entertainment Forever", which while great in its own right, does not hold a candle musically to "Pure Comedy".
The song begins with a mixture of sound, before transitioning to what sounds like a lounge song. Father John Misty plays the part of a lounge singer well, casually espousing the complexities and failings of humankind as if he were singing "Ain't that a Kick in the Head". I think that's what so intriguing about Father John Misty as a performer in general and this song as well. He sings of our very existence with the cavalier of someone singing about more trivial matters. At least initially in this track, as he does break it down in this one with a more dynamic portion.
Musically, the piano is beautiful and the horns are perfect. But they are there to highlight the main attraction, the lyrics. First, let's just read these lyrics below:
[Intro] At six- For some reason when I go to the app... [Verse 1] The comedy of man starts like this: Our brains are way too big for our mothers' hips And so nature, she divines this alternative: We emerge half-formed and hope whoever greets us on the other end Is kind enough to fill us in And babies, that's pretty much how it's been ever since Now the miracle of birth leaves a few issues to address Like, say, that half of us are periodically iron deficient So somebody's gotta go kill something while I look after the kids I'd do it myself, but what, are you gonna to get this thing it's milk? He says as soon as he gets back from the hunt, we can switch It's hard not to fall in love with something so helpless Ladies, I hope we don't end up regretting this [Chorus 1] Comedy, now that's what I call pure comedy Just wait until the part where they start to believe They're at the center of everything And some all-powerful being Endowed this horror show with meaning [Verse 2] Oh, their religions are the best They worship themselves yet they're totally obsessed With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks These unbelievable outfits And they get terribly upset When you question their sacred texts Written by woman-hating epileptics Their languages just serve to confuse them Their confusion somehow makes them more sure They build fortunes poisoning their offspring And hand out prizes when someone patents the cure Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them? What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable? These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods So they can go on being godless animals [Interlude] [Chorus 2] Oh comedy, their illusions they have no choice but to believe Their horizons that just forever recede And how's this for irony: Their idea of being free is a prison of beliefs That they never ever have to leave Oh comedy, oh it's like something that a madman would conceive! The only thing that seems to make them feel alive Is the struggle to survive But the only thing that they request Is something to numb the pain with Until there's nothing human left [Outro] Just random matter suspended in the dark I hate to say it, but each other's all we've got
In one song Father John Misty manages aim biting criticisms at child rearing, religion, and the dogma of politics. All of that in just a little over six minutes. On birth, Father John Misty opines "We emerge half-formed and hope whoever greets us on the other end, Is kind enough to fill us in". Such a cynical but darkly humorous view of how we learn as we grow. On religion, he is far less kind. "Comedy, now that's what I call pure comedy, Just wait until the part where they start to believe, They're at the center of everything, And some all-powerful being, Endowed this horror show with meaning". Father John Misty is absolutely merciless with this barb and to be honest, I love every second of it. He is equally critical of politicians "Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them? What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable? These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods, So they can go on being godless animals". Where does he leave it at the end? "I hate to say it, but each other's all we've got". Kind of a shrug of the shoulders of an ending or a "hell if I know", which is hilarious.
I also love this track because it shows off Father John Misty's underrated vocal talent. Below you will find his performance of the track on Austin City Limits. It's exquisitely done and the crowd goes nuts for him. If you haven't listened to this track by Father John Misty or haven't heard it in a while. Do me a favor and give it a spin.