Thursday, December 16, 2010

Golden Boy

Golden Boy (from the album Motherland)

Top of the fold
toast of the town
everyone stops when you come around
they hold their breath for you

Heroes are born
idols are made
we're all fools for this factory fame
and you've got the brand new face

You've got the brand new face
golden boy

Beauty untamed
stupid and wild
poster boy, you're society's child
cut your teeth
cut your mouth
cut it out

Meteor rise from obscurity
all it took was a killing spree
and the whole world was lying at your feet
golden boy

I know my place
stick to my lines
stay in your shadow
don't block your light

So you can shine divine
golden boy

I don't plan too far in advance which songs I'm going to talk about on this blog from week to week. Most of the time I just look at my Ipod, pick out a song that I feel like talking about and start from there. Other times, inspiration strikes.

Several days ago I had just finished one of the best books I'd ever read. I read a lot, but I rarely complete a book feeling fully satisfied. I always feel like it could have been better, it could have been more. Reading this book felt like falling in love. I went into the book store in a haze of euphoria, wishing I could take a book off every shelf in the store and feeling full of optimism that they would all be just as enlivening as the one I'd just completed. I knew logically, of course, that this was a ridiculous notion, but I didn't care. That's what falling in love does to you. It makes you ridiculous. It makes you not care that you're ridiculous.

It was in this state of exhilaration and ridiculousness that I came upon a shelf displaying a series of four books that ripped me right out of my haze and dropped me in the grim mire of reality. Here were the titles of those four books:

  • Serial Killers
  • Cannibal Killers
  • Sex Killers
  • Spree Killers

Each book's cover was graced with the picture of a famous killer that matched the "theme" of that book. Maybe on another day I wouldn't have noticed so much, or even at all. But the book I'd just read had filled me up with a sense of wonder and delight about humanity and being confronted with the faces of non-fictional maniacal killers shocked my system. Maybe it was also because of the fact that just on the other side of the shelf was a rack of Ramona and Beezus books and I don't normally think of Ramona and Beezus and serial killers at the same time. (Not normally.) I realize it's a bit simple of me to have felt surprise at that moment, but that is what I felt. And that's when I decided that this week's blog would be about Golden Boy.

Here is a quote from Natalie about what inspired the writing of this song:

"I was thinking about America's obsession with kid murderers, kids who kill
their classmates. The morbid fascination is what's so shocking, the way these boys go from absolute obscurity to front-page news and stay there for weeks."

I read books for two reasons: 1) To learn something useful or 2) To be entertained. In a perfect scenario, both things happen at the same time. I understand that there is a thriving market for True Crime stories, but unless it is your profession to detect and hunt down psychopaths, I honestly can't grasp the appeal. I want to be inspired, not disturbed. If I have to be disturbed, I want it to be by something that has a deeper meaning and value than morbid curiosity.

I can't say that Golden Boy is a favorite song for me personally, but one can't really argue with the observation being made through its lyrics. Lyrics that apparently some people have misunderstood...a lot. I heard someone remark that this song always made them think with fondness about their dearly departed relative. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that their last name was Dahmer.

Another quote:

"Names of serial killers are easier to conjure than names of great humanitarians. We repeatedly make celebrities out of psychopaths whether we intend to or not."**

Alright, maybe she's being overly cynical here. Let's all put this statement to the test: Everyone take a moment and name as many serial killers as you can. Okay, now name as many humanitarians as you can.

Go ahead. Take your time.

A few more seconds...


Yeah...I failed too. So in an attempt to even up the score, I will now give you a short list of famous(ish) humanitarians: Jean-Pierre Hallet, Harold Robles, Jane Goodall, Masanao Goto, Niall Mellon, Almira Fales, Jody Williams, and Yanis Kanidis. Now you may not be motivated to read extensive biographies on each of these people (and I'm not gonna lie and say that I did either), but if you can memorize this list and add it to the handful of other humanitarian names you know, then the next time someone asks you if you can list more humanitarians than serial killers (and let's face it, this comes up in conversation all the time), you may just succeed!

That's all for this week, folks. Make sure to tune in next week when I promise to talk about something less serial killer-y. If you'd like to share your thoughts (and please do, it makes me feel less like I'm talking to myself, which is, I've heard, the first step on the road to serial killing), feel free to e-mail me at or leave a comment below. Ta ta for now!

Click here to watch a video of Natalie and her band performing Golden Boy live.

Click here to download Golden Boy from Itunes - Golden Boy - Motherland

* Japan Times
** Elektra Website


  1. Thanks for writing about this song. I know the message is kind of a downer but the part of the song about being fools for the "factory fame" always reverberated more deeply with me than the killing part. I also love the sound and pace of the song. I love how the guitar builds up slowly in this electric sounding haze and how the threatening drums get louder and louder. The build up of the guitar as a metaphor for the white noise factory fame and the drums the warning getting louder and louder - but the listener is so entranced with the beat it can't heed the warning. I just really like the entire composition. Thanks for covering the song. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Anonymous -

    Great comment. I never thought about the music matching the lyrics in that sense, but it's a really good point. I think I'll have to give it another listen with that perspective in mind.

    Thanks for writing,

  3. Just came across this while listening to the song. I'm curious at to the name of the book you read.

    1. Hmmm.. it's tough to remember! It might have been Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I was really moved by that. (And, no, I never saw the movie...I wouldn't dare.)