Saturday, October 29, 2011
Grimm, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Earworms of the Day
Last night we watched the new television crime show/fantasy entitled Grimm, thematically linked to Grimm's Fairy Tales, and last night's episode featured Red Riding Hood. It was symbolic/literary and darkly quirky funny and we laughed out loud a few times. A child's tale made adult fare.
It opened with a jogger listening to "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics on her I-Pod when she is violently attacked and killed. Two policemen investigating the case comment on the song, which later gives the killer away when he is humming it. The song is later reprised in the Marilyn Manson version, which turns some of the lyrics grisly and into the first person point of view of the killer.
Back when it first came out, I used to use the Eurythmics version as a part of my jogging soundtracks, but once they started playing Marilyn Manson's version of it, I could no longer abide the song, which is just too creepy. See Wikipedia's explanation of it at this link.
Still, this was only a Halloween show, just in fun; and, as Stephen King points out in Danse Macabre, Robert Louis Stevenson's Mr. Hyde and the mythic wolfman are the same thing, they represent animal side of human nature. In Grimm, some of the wolfmen have the free will to change. Though constantly tempted, they refrain from eating people, always in recovery like reformed alcoholics.
Another earworm today is "Lil Red Riding Hood," by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. It too takes the point of view of the wolf, but in this version, Red Riding Hood is not a child but a mature woman. The object of this old-fashioned wolf, as in the wolf whistle of that time, has never been rape and murder, but simply seduction. In those innocent days, that was considered bad enough. Bad. Baaad. I mean, baaaad.
I still like the music today as it rattles around in my head, even though the lyrics bump into accrued political correctness and the constant self-admonition that wolves were never my thing, not even on Halloween.
The next song is Warren Zevon's "Werewolves In London," link, with its own driving piano and wolfish howls. It is overtly the most violent of the three songs named here, but at least the story is told in the third person. More violent but less creepy. And comic book violence too, more darkly funny than chilling.
My mind goes back to the Freudian and literary analysis of the Red Riding Hood legend. See:
Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.
James Whitcomb Riley Mamie's Little Red Riding Hood, told like Uncle Remus.
The politically correct version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Wickipedia Red Riding Hood.
The next earworm is "The Highwayman," first by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. An existential reincarnation song of sorts.
Then the lovely romantic version of the Alfred Noyes poem sung by Loreena McKennitt. If you've never heard this one, you're missing something special. Not a party song, this is one that needs close attention, so that when she sings the ta-ta-tlot, ta-ta-tlot softly, you can imagine the hoofbeats in the distance.
As far as Halloween costumes go, the highwayman has always been much more my style than the wolfman. I've always been clean-shaven but I've always worn my hair a bit long, enough so that I would be obliged to forgo the french cocked-hat of the costume, as they are usually designed for someone with a smaller head or with less hair. Besides, I'm cocky enough.
Not that we're dressing up for Halloween these days, but if we did, I'd settle for the rear end of this horse costume, just as long as my sweet wife is up front.