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. 

 

 

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