In the dim and distant past I used to frequent a heavy metal bar on Wood St. in Liverpool called the Wilsons. It’s long gone and in the minds of most forgotten. It was however formative in my early years, not only because it was the type of place a fifteen/sixteen year old was guaranteed to be able to get a drink but they had one of the two greatest juke boxes in the history of 80’s metal bars. All the greats were on there, Motorhead, Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Focus(go figure) and lurking somewhere amongst all this heady music was Terry Jacks and Seasons in the Sun.
For some reason me and my friends managed to become attached to this song, maybe more to do with the mayhem that ensued when it inevitably turned up on the jukebox at deafening volume. I have since learned it was voted one of the worst pop songs ever recorded. I think that may be an overstatement, I am however going to admit to not having listened to it in a long time.
I have no idea beyond it’s sentimentality why this connected with us, we would bellow along to the lyrics at the top of our voices before being deposited none too gently in the gutters outside the bar for putting this offending song on amidst the NWOBHM fare that normally was being played. Maybe it was the irony of this song in this place at this time, a song that at that time was close to ten years old managing to hang out on a jukebox that was devoted to Metal in a bar that to a teenager seemed dangerous and edgy. In reality I am sure it was an incredibly safe and accepting environment for me and my gang of geeky metalheads to soak up the ambience of the day.
The song had started off as a Jacques Brel song of a man dying from a broken heart and his farewell to his best friend his priest and his wife who had betrayed him.
Rod McKuen rewrote it and managed to eliminate the angst and passion from the song, It was recorded with Terry Jacks and the Beach Boys and eventually abandoned by them, Jacks took it on himself at this point and realized the saccharine joy we have today.
I am not going to pretend that this is anything other than a sentimental choice based on the reaction this had with the to me at the time large behemoths of the metal lifestyle in the bar. For a while it became our theme tune and we would relentlessly play it on every jukebox we came upon in our travels, even today of I can bellow along to all the lyrics at the drop of a hat and it has become my karaoke tune of choice, people are often overwhelmed by the sappiness of the song and miss out on the awfulness of the singing.
Maybe next time I will treat them to Le Moribund…