Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chris Port Blog #329. An authorial analysis of some of the underpinning ideas behind the song 'Someday A Real Rain Oh…'

This is an authorial analysis of some of the underpinning ideas behind the song Someday A Real Rain Oh…

Someday A Real Rain Oh…
© Chris Port, 16th March 2012

(Marty puts on a Dorothy wig and drives around the West End to the tune of Over The Rainbow

Someday a real rain oh, you will come
And wash blood from the pavements, oh how I hate those scum
Someday a real rain oh, you will flow
Through the gutters and ghettos a vengeful wind doth blow

Someday I’ll drive my little car
Into a West End theatre bar and explode
In toilets where you cut your snow, your soiled credit cards will glow
That’s where I’ll reload

Someday a real rain oh, you must come
Like the judgment of heaven bursting into boardrooms

If venal little bankers try to bathe in blood oh
So, then so will I.

Like most Marty Gull parodies, Someday A Real Rain Oh aims to fracture musicals’ traditional tendency towards catharsis. I’ve tried to achieve this by subverting any single emotional response. Riffing off Brecht, I want to focus on ‘de-familiarization’ as a feeling of unease rather than detachment. This unease is designed to be a prelude to analysis, a consideration of alternative actions (if not violence, then what else?).

I’ve wedged the song into that strange interstitial crack between those two most destabilizing genres, comedy and horror. The comedy is based on incongruity. The horror emerges from the juxtaposition of innocence with violence.

Dorothy’s Over The Rainbow song is about a young girl dreaming of a better future. Taxi Driver (Scorsese, 1976) is about a lonely, misanthropic war veteran who sees no future. Travis Bickle, a detached observer, becomes obsessed with saving Iris, a 12-year-old child prostitute, from the ‘animals’ around her.

One of Scorsese’s recurring themes is ‘masculinity in crisis’ and the ‘myth of regeneration through violence’.

(See The narcissistic masculinity of Travis Bickle : American “Reality” in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver by Waldemar Pauw, English M.A. Thesis, University of Stellenbosch, 2006

Putting our vigilante in a Dorothy wig and giving him a dreamy girl’s song undermines his masculine anti-hero status in several ways.

  • First, he just looks unmanly and silly.
  • Second, he looks creepily childish and disturbingly cross-gendered (a pathetic victim as much as a threatening predator).
  • Third, the audience can’t help but make incongruous comparisons between his outer psychosis and inner idealism.

The moral panic over last summer’s riots is (arguably) based on a middle-class fear of the ‘feral underclass’. Fear of ‘the great unwashed’ is as old as urban civilization itself. Roman emperors diverted the passions of the mob with bread and circuses (a function arguably served by today’s media via baying ‘talent’ shows).

In Taxi Driver, Travis becomes increasingly alienated from a society he sees as ‘sick’ and ‘venal’.

“Someday a real rain will come…” (Taxi Driver, 1976)

TRAVIS BICKLE: “All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ‘em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.”

After failing to assassinate a presidential candidate, Travis ends up venting his emasculated rage on the feral underclass. He kills Iris’s pimps. Still one of the best bloodfests in cinema…

Ironically, the media gets hold of the ‘rescue’ story and represents him as a hero.

In Someday A Real Rain Oh I redirect the outcast’s alienated rage. Instead of focusing on the feral underclass, the song vents its hatred and disgust at the recreational drug-taking middle-class. The song is actually an attack on musical theatre itself. ‘Harmless’ escapism is portrayed as moral cowardice and hypocrisy, an escape from social responsibility. Songs themselves are the enemy here.

Dorothy’s dreamy Over The Rainbow escapism ended with the realization that “There’s no place like home”. Someday A Real Rain Oh brings this realization into the theatre and the boardroom. Showbiz and business are not as aloof from politics as they sometimes like to think. If the nation fragments, so do they.

However, the song ultimately subverts itself. The ‘judgment of heaven’ is unlikely to burst into boardrooms. Instead, as corporations continue to feed off poverty while scapegoating the poor, the underclass will become more likely to retaliate with violence, both internecine and intra-class warfare. Songs, like all forms of escapism, are a substitute for social change rather than a catalyst for it. If not songs, what else? If not violence, what else?

Someday A Real Rain Oh also riffs off Over A Chip Shop, an earlier song in Marty Gull (see Marty Gull - Open Invitation for Collaboration on a New Musical Art Form at

Over A Chip Shop is, in itself, an earlier reference to Taxi Driver. In this song, our anti-hero (here an idealistic, disillusioned, alienated teacher instead of a war vet – although the two vocations are becoming increasingly similar) ponders the fate of one of his students whose dreams of stardom have ended in a brothel. The song ends by asking why she can’t be happy like other children. Why indeed? Showbiz may have a lot to answer for…

Over A Chip Shop
© Chris Port, 2010,
All rights reserved.

Somewhere in a red lit room
Up dark stairs
There’s a girl that I once knew
Selling her thin white wares.

Somewhere in a red lit room
Ceilings stare
And the wet nicotine walls won’t
Look away or care.

Someday she’ll steal a dealer’s car
And drive out where the streetlights are
Behind her.
Where pills are dropped the rainbow stops
The ambulance and traffic cops
That’s where you’ll find her.

Somewhere over a chip shop
Young girls sleep
Men walk out of a chip shop
Why then, oh why can’t she?

If happy little children be
Outside the chip shop
Why, oh why, can’t she?

To those who dislike the 'misappropriation' of Dorothy for political satire...

As confidence in fiat money collapses, and there is talk of returning to the gold standard (or some other form of commodity money), we should remember that Frank Baum’s original Wizard of Oz was a political satire operating on two levels, ‘one literal and puerile, the other symbolic and political. Its capacity to fascinate on both levels testifies to its remarkable author’s wit and ingenuity.’

See Money and Politics in the Land of Oz by Quentin Taylor

See also: “So long, and thanks for all the money.” Is there a workable alternative to Capitalism?

1 comment:

  1. "If it's frightening to people, then those people seriously need to look at the mediocrity they subscribe to."