Gnarls Barkley’s Odd Couple Unexpectedly Moving
I have read a few reviews of The Odd Couple by Gnarls Barkley. The negative ones piss me off.
I know they shouldn’t, but they do. Everyone wants another “Crazy.” Please STFU!
The first Gnarls album was an underground project that caught on to the Britney Spears crowd. That does not give the Britney Spears crowd the right (oh, the audacity!) to judge any form of genuine art. I don’t mean for my hatred of the mainstream to come out so blatantly, but it is what it is.
A friend of mine did a post on Gnarls on a small forum I administrate way before the first album was released. I heard “Crazy” and immediately related to the lyrics. I’ve been there before — and I may be there again. It brings me comfort knowing I’m not the only one. I still bump the rest of St. Elsewhere, only skipping “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Necromancing.” It’s a solid album.
The Odd Couple is just as solid. I downloaded it before the release date. I burned a copy before work one day and gave it a listen on the way into the plantation. “Who is Gonna Save My Soul” took my attention off of the road. I almost had to pull over to get my bearings. I had no idea why that song hit me so hard at first. When Ceelo asked “But what about what I need!?!?”, it moved me. I replayed that song a few times too many that day. I even snuck a listen in the parking lot during work hours (shhhhh). I cannot listen to the song anymore, but the reason it hit me so hard is because of my Great Grandfather.
Daddy Yank died when I was 12. I was an altar boy at his funeral. It disturbed me how many teary eyes I saw in the audience because of the way he died. As a pre-teen, I even felt I could do more to relieve his suffering. That man had an everlasting effect on me. I still make my decisions based upon what I think he would think of me.
That song, as far as I am concerned, was written by someone who had a similar person in their life. Ceelo opens with “I got some bad news this morning, which in turn made my day.” I remember the phone call telling me Daddy Yank was dead. That is exactly how I felt. My tears were delayed for a few months. They still show up every now and then when I am alone.
Daddy Yank’s daughter died recently — which brings me to “She Knows.” This is obviously a song about Ceelo’s mom. He doesn’t explain what <i>she knows</i>, which makes that knowledge seem boundless. He sings “It wouldn’t surprise me to see her ghost — she would like me to know she knows.” If that ain’t my Grandmother, DJ Premiere is wack. To me, that one line is the song. The beat is fast-paced, simple and muffled. This only makes me pay more attention to the lyrics. That was a song that snuck up on me.
There is one song on the album that is actually rapped. “A Little Better” is yet another song I seem to have a close personal connection with. We have all had problems. We will all have more problems. While dealing with our problems, it is helpful to know they are temporary. And more importantly, the problem is not as important as it seems. Ceelo reminds us that “everything is fine, take your time. What would be on your mind if you knew you were dying?” Exactly!
There a few one-liners to live by on this album:
”Anyone who needs what they want and does not want what they need – I want nothing to do with” – from “Going On”
“Hurt people hurt people” – from “Would be Killer”
“But when the child grows to have more than just your eyes — don’t be surprised” – from “Surprise”
“I am no coward, so I’ll only die one time” – from “Open Book”
Maybe my kindred feelings for the songwriter bias my opinion of the album. Maybe I am reaching to think that the humanity of the topics should automatically give the album mainstream appeal. Or maybe, just maybe — no one is listening in the first place.