Terror Tracks: Let Leatherface and Oingo Boingo Lift Your Spirits About Dying
I’ll admit, I listen to my Halloween playlists year round. I don’t know, when I am trudging through the snow at 8AM, piercing wind cutting my face as I dodge puddles on my way to the subway, listening to Roberto Donati’s “NYC Theme” from Cannibal Ferox makes you feel like you are CRUSHING this commute. And while I admittedly skip over Krzysztof Komeda’s “Rosemary’s Theme” any morning it pops up, one song is currently my number one jam of 2018 (so far) and that’s Oingo Boingo’s contribution to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre II soundtrack “No One Lives Forever”.
Let's have a party
There's a full moon in the sky
It's the hour of the wolf
And I don't want to die
I mean. C’MOOOOOOOON! Those lyrics are GOLD! Oingo Boingo was originally called “The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo”, a highly theatrical stage show led by Richard Elfman, future lead singer Danny Elfman’s older brother. When the Elder Elfman passed the torch off to his younger brother, Danny reshaped the band into a more pop synth rock sound that erupted on 1985’s Dead Man’s Party. The title track would prove the biggest hit, most famously being featured in the Rodney Dangerfield romp Back to School, but the album’s other not-a-surprise hit: the theme song to John Hughes’ film Weird Science. Randomly awesome.
You worry too much
You make yourself sad
You can't change fate
But don't feel so bad
Enjoy it while you can
It's just like the weather
So quit complaining, brother...
No one lives forever!
This opening stanza, sung in Elfman’s patter baritone, is also the general idea of the song. Typically when we get a song with a similar motif as “No One Lives Forever” they take a Laisez-faire attitude to general health and human safety. You’re gonna die eventually, might as well burn the place down while you’re at it! Here Elfman takes life more literally, echoing the “You start dying the day you’re born” idiom, and asks “If we are born to just eventually die, why sweat the small stuff?
You think you've got it rough
What about your darling doggie
Ten short years
And he's getting old and groggy
I don't think it's very fair
Cold Chop Low
But it's all relative my friend cause
No one lives forever
Here though Elfman takes a stab at the joke that is life wondering “Why is it fair that our animals must age so much faster than us? That SUCKS!” And seriously, it does. I stare at my little kitten, Mogwai (Moggi), and think “Fuck, my life is destined to outlive you.” HE’S NOT EVEN ONE YET! But also that’s part of the point of the song: Death is a natural part of life. It hurts. But we can’t let the looming death of death dour the rest of the eight decades or more of this life. It’s all relative.
No one beats him at his game
For very long but just the same
Who cares there's no place safe to hide
Nowhere to run no time to cry
So celebrate why you still can
Cause any second it may end
And when it's all been said and done
Better that you had some fun
Instead of hiding in a shell
Why make your life a living hell?
Have a toast, down the cup
Drink to bones that turn to dust
The moment in the Chainsaw Massacre sequel when this song is played by our hapless DJ heroine, Stretch, is right at the top of the movie when asshole college kids Buzz and Rick are blazing across Texas to Dallas for the Texas/OU game (as a Texan, trust me, this game is HUGE). The song pops the moment the duo hit the infamous bridge where they will face down with Leatherface, the first time the lyrics “no one lives forever!” are sung the camera cuts to the front hood of the Sawyer’s truck blocking their way. The next verse, “And I don’t wanna die!”, lines up perfectly as the Sawyers reverse the truck and let the boys pass. Even as Leatherface (donning his Brother Puppet and Chainsaw) steps into the bed of the pick up, the piercing horns mix beautifully with the revving of the sharp chains.
The campiness of the song with the Red Comedy of Tobe Hoopers Chainsaw sequel is a match made in a spooky little heaven. Beyond that though, and probably the reason why I’ve spun this track countless of times is, well, listening to it is like listening to Jack Skellington front a New Wave band. The rich baritone of Elfmans voice which was utilized beautifully in Henry Selicks The Nightmare Before Christmas, mixed with his ability to vocally traverse the musical scale with ease, it just puts a smile on your face. Elfman has gone on record saying that his Oingo Boingo days embarrass him, which is understandable. Who isn’t embarrassed by their younger days, to some degree, especially for a figure that was in the public spotlight. But hopefully as the years go on Elfman will warm back up to his OB catalog, because he really did write the best Halloween Party songs we’ve ever gotten!
Unfortunately, and strangely, this wasn't a single off of Dead Man's Party so there is no accompanying music video. But enjoy this assemblage of scenes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II over Oingo Boingo's No One Lives Forever!