The Most Disturbing Song of All Time: Clint Holmes’ “Playground In My Mind” (1972)

You know how these theoretical questions always come up at parties, like “what song would you kill yourself to?” or “if you could replace the soundtrack to Fern Gully with one album from the 1978-1985 Factory Records catalogue what would you choose?” I never have an answer for those. I have lots of ideas, but as soon as the question is posed I enter a temporary coma.

Well right now, while I’m of sound mind, I want to submit Clint Holmes’ 1972 ode to Satan, “Playground In My Mind” as the most disturbing song of all time.

My Dad once owned, and probably still owns, a Sounds of the ’70s compilation from one of those mail order CD clearinghouses of the 1990s. This compilation was filled with many gems, including one of my genuine, un-ironic, favorite songs of all time, Looking Glass’ “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” I was willing to suffer through the endlessly depressing “Wildfire,” but “Playground in My Mind” crossed the goddamn line. It haunted my childhood. I have no idea why someone would commit this song to record in either analog or digital format. It is the sound of a horrific repressed memory.

National Siblings Day

Yesterday was National Siblings Day, I don’t know if that is some sort of semi-officially designated national holiday, or something Twitter invented, like “Zayn Appreciation Day” but it did cause me to pause and think about my sister, and one incident in particular.

It was 1994. I was 5, she was 3. We had family in town that we didn’t get to see often, and I was in awe. Their kids were slightly older than us, and I followed them around starstruck. Their family is very musical, and every time they would start singing, or hammering chopsticks into my Fischer-Price toy piano, I would explode with a combination of glee and envy.

We were all at Price Club one night, and I spotted something I had to have: a Beauty and the Beast recorder set, with a little recorder and songbook sealed perfectly in a plastic clamshell package. My Mom tried to shoo me away, because I didn’t know how to play the recorder, but her friend stepped in and offered to buy it for me, in a gesture to nurture whatever musical abilities I had. (If you play two Nickelback songs back-to-back my Mom literally cannot determine they are the same band.)

I had no idea how to fucking read, let alone read sheet music, but I laid that songbook out and was determined to figure it out through sheer willpower. I was going to stare at it and make sounds until it made sense.

My sister was in the living room with me, rolling around on the carpet, watching TV. Abruptly she decided she did not appreciate my desire for self-betterment, and proceeded to drop-kick me in the face. Like a tiny Anthony Pettis, she made a direct hit with the end of the recorder, ramming it into my face and knocking out both my front teeth.

I remember having to remove the recorder embedded in my face, seeing something that moments before was such a symbol of hope and happiness, streaked with blood, as I came to the realization that I no longer had teeth.

It was my first musical memory.

So Happy National Siblings Day, Allison. It’s been 20 years and you’re still a bitch.

Phoebe Bridgers & Charlie Hickey – “Teenage Dirtbag” (Wheatus cover)

Yeah, so I’ve kind of been music-stalking (is that just being a fan?) this girl ever since hearing her cover of Pixies’s “Gigantic” in an iPhone commercial. Her voice has such an incredible tone. She seems to do a lot of indie rock kind of stuff, to be totally generic about it, but her voice has kind of a country-tinge. Anyway I love her. Plus, who the fuck doesn’t like Wheatus. You put “Teenage Dirtbag” on and people that you never would have thought knew that song know all the words.

The Pursuit of Happiness – “I’m an Adult Now”

Relevant. How did I never hear about Toronto’s musical gem, The Pursuit of Happiness, before? Their debut album was produced by Todd Rundgren.

Well, I don’t hate my parents
I don’t get drunk just to spite them
I’ve got my own reasons to drink now