Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bangles – "Hazy Shade of Winter" (1987)

Look around
Leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground

I desperately need the days to pass more slowly.  But just the opposite is happening – the days are passing more quickly.

Another year's almost gone.  Where the hell did it go?

Paul Simon is a very good songwriter, and "A Hazy Shade of Winter" is one of his best.  It's depressing as all get out, but still great.

Simon & Garfunkel
The song begins with these cautionary lines:

Time, time, time
See what's become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please

It behooves us all to be a little less hard to please.  You quickly reach the point of diminishing returns when you demand perfection.  

To paraphrase Voltaire, "The perfect is the enemy of the good."  

And as the British scientist Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt put it, "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, and the best never comes."

Look around
The grass is high
The fields are high
It's the springtime of my life

You don't really believe that, do you? 

If I'm lucky, it's the autumn of my life – if I'm not lucky, it's already winter.  But it's sure as hell not springtime.

Simon & Garfunkel released "A Hazy Shade of Winter" as a single in 1966, and it eventually worked its way to #13 on the Billboard "Hot 100."  (I can't imagine such a challenging song being released as a single today.)  

The Bangles recorded a cover version of the song for the Less Than Zero movie soundtrack in 1987.  That cover made it to #2 on the Billboard chart.

If you think this song is depressing, you ought to watch Less Than Zero.  Or if you prefer, read the Bret Easton Ellis of the same name that the movie is based on.  

Here's how Wikipedia summarizes the plot of the novel:

The novel follows the life of Clay, a rich young college student who has returned to [Los Angeles] for winter break . . . . 

After reuniting with his friend Trent . . . Clay embarks on a series of drug-fueled nights of partying, during which he picks up various men and women for one-night stands.  While partying, he tries to track down two high school acquaintances: his ex-girlfriend Blair . . . and his best friend Julian, with whom he hasn't spoken for months. . . .

Over time, Clay becomes progressively disillusioned with the party scene as he witnesses the apathy of his friends towards the suffering of one another and those around them: at one party . . . he and Blair are the only two who exhibit revulsion when Trent shows a snuff film, which sexually excites several partygoers.

Clay ultimately tracks down Julian, whom he learns has become a heroin addict and turned to prostitution in order to pay off a debt to his drug dealer.  Not believing what he has been told, Clay accompanies Julian on a job, where he is compelled by a male john to watch the man and Julian have sex for several hours.

After attending a concert with his friends, Clay accompanies them to a derelict alley where they stare at the corpse of an overdose victim which they have left there to decompose.  Afterward, Clay follows the group back to the home of his drug dealer, Rip, who wants to show off his latest acquisition: a twelve-year-old sex slave whom Rip has been keeping drugged in his bedroom. . . . Clay leaves, but Trent decides to stay so that he can rape the girl.

Sounds like the perfect beach read for your 2015 summer vacation, doesn't it?  (Assuming you live that long, of course.)

I'm not sure whether I like the Simon & Garfunkel or Bangles versions of "Hazy Shade of Winter" better.  I'm featuring the Bangles version because I am sure that I like girls better that boys.

Here's the music video for "Hazy Shade of Winter," which includes some shots from Less Than Zero:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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