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February 09, 2013

Horror Rock

Remember the song "If you like piña coladas/ And getting caught in the rain/ If you're not into health food/ And you're into drinking champagne/ . . ."? Pretty annoying, huh? That song was written by Rupert Holmes. Well, in 1971 he wrote a song recorded by one-hit wonder band The Bouys, Timothy. Rupert was at a different stage in his life then. It was before the piña coladas had taken the edge off.

Timothy was about cannibalism.

"Timothy" is a song written by Rupert Holmes and recorded by the Buoys in 1971, presenting the unnerving story of three men trapped in a collapsed mine, two of whom apparently resort to cannibalism against the third (the eponymous character Timothy).

. . .

"Timothy" attracted little attention when it was first released, in large part because Scepter Records did not promote the record. Soon, however, it became popular among young listeners who were able to deduce Timothy's fate from the lyrics. Only as the song became more frequently requested did radio stations begin to take note of the song and its unsettling subject matter. Then, just as Holmes and the Buoys had expected, the song started getting banned.

Under normal circumstances, a radio ban would be considered the "kiss of death" for a single's prospects on the Billboard music charts, which at that time were based heavily on radio airplay. Yet "Timothy" had already attracted such a great following that as some radio stations banned the song, competing stations would pick it up to meet the demand. As a result, instead of dropping off as expected, the song continued slowly moving up the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Once they realized they had a hit record on their hands, Scepter Records executives tried to claim that Timothy was really a mule, not a person, in order to get radio stations that had banned the song to reconsider.




When I first heard Timothy, I was a little kid. It was a catchy tune, and I was focused on the chorus. I thought it was about someone who disappeared--I don't know--because of inter-dimensional travel or something. Not surprising, considering I had read The Forgotten Door by then and was listening to the Moody Blues, songs like Gypsy and The Best Way to Travel. Eventually, a kid in the neighborhood told me it was a true story about two kids who ate another kid, I was like "huh-uhhhhhuhhhhh!" Then I listened and got the full "eww" feeling.

Trapped in a mine that had caved in
And everyone knows the only ones left
Were Joe and me and Tim

When they broke through to pull us free
The only ones left to tell the tale
Was Joe and me

Timothy, Timothy, where on Earth did you go?
Timothy, Timothy, God why don't I know?

Hungry as hell, no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat

Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, "I'll take a swig,
And then there's some for you."

Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?

I must have blacked out just around then
'Cause the very next thing that I could see
Was the light of the day again

My stomach was full as it could be
And nobody ever got around
To finding Timothy

Timothy, Timothy, where on earth did you go?
Timothy, Timothy, God why don't I know?

Timothy...

The only other horror rock song I can think of is Bloodrock's D.O.A. "I remember/ We were flying along/ And hit something in the air/ . . . ." I thought that was about an airliner hitting a UFO. Pretty spooky for a kid. And, of course, we thought it was true, whatever it was about.

If anyone can think of another one, let me know.

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posted by rdbrewer at 03:34 PM

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