In the literary world, as in real life, all narrators are unreliable--some more so than others. Nick Carraway, Holden Caulfield, Benjy, Huck, even Snoopy; they're all dupes in denial--fictional titans in domains populated by clear-headed know-it-alls. Like corrupt Pottsville County Sherriff Nick Corey in Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, they grip us tightly by the back of the neck and stubbornly steer us through landscapes of their own undoing. We might be amused or repelled, but we still identify with their delusional first person ramblings. As long as it makes sense to them, that's all that really matters, right?
Here's a handful of some of my favorite songs that rely upon this underused device:
Psycho - Eddie Noack
Aside from penning country smashes like I Love You Because, They'll Never Take Her Love From Me and Lost Highway, writer/performer Blind Leon Payne had a sick sense of humor. After taking in a screening of Hitchcock's Psycho, he dreamt up this cult hit which was first recorded by Eddie Noack in 1968 for the K-Ark label.
She Still Thinks I Care - George Jones
In the late 50s, songwriter Dickey Lee cut some decent (yet unsuccessful) rockabilly sides at Sun Records like Good Lovin' and Fool, Fool, Fool. He hit the charts twice in 1962: first for recording the schlub shantytown anthem Patches and second for writing the Stairway To Heaven of Denial Songs, She Still Thinks I Care.
I Never Loved Her - The Starfires
Pimply-faced protaganist and his tambourine wielding henchmen deny any romantic involvement in this 1965 scorcher on the G.I. record label out of Los Angeles.
Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks
From 1966, this is the first and finest of Ray Davies' forays into Drunken Music Hall musings. (Every '60s British rock act went Drunken Music Hall at some point in their careers but that's for a different blog.) The b-side is I'm Not Like Everybody Else.
I Don't Care - The Ramones
Originally recorded as a demo for their debut LP, it was eventually re-recorded and released on 1977's Rocket to Russia. It's the Ramones distilled down to their moronic/zen best.
(Streaming Real Audio links)