Wow. So I was listening to one of my favorite songs, “Down In the Park” by the Foo Fighters… or so I thought. In my collection exists a cover of “Down In the Park” by (again, I thought) Nine Inch Nails. Thing is, tonight I decided to listen to them back to back, and frankly, the NIN version just didn’t sound like Reznor’s work. I mean, yeah, maybe in a sort of far-off influenced kind of way, but by no means with the same raw electronic feel as Reznor. First band that pops into my mind, of course: Marilyn Manson.
I look it up. There it is, sure as the the Patriots lost the freakin’ Super Bowl, Marilyn Manson did indeed cover “Down in the Park”. But, apparently, so did the Foo Fighters.
The original, according to WIkipedia (and kudos to someone for thinking the song was worthy of a Wikipedia entry), is by some guy named Gary Numan and his band Tubeway Army. A late 70’s, new-wave/punk/whatever-you-call-music-in-that-era band. Strange, right? Oh, but it gets better. The Wikipedia article references some of the lyrics to support what it describes as the story behind the song. I’d always thought that the semi-garbled lyrics had something to do with assasination, the Kennedy assasination, or something conspiracy based (this opinion being based on the fact that the Foo Fighters version appears on an X-Files soundtrack). No, no, the truth is so much wierder and more sinister.
Apparently this Gary Numan guy had a vision of a Terminator-style post-apocalyptic machine-controlled future where humans are raped and killed for sport. Me, I’m thinking Charlton Heston meets Terminator in a roman arena. Bloodsport meets Transformers. I don’t know, I’m a little wierded out by the whole thing, especially now that I know the lyrics. Still, the song rocks – pretty much every version is badassed, including the original (although the original is, by far, the lamest, it’s also the clearest in terms of the lyrics.) Here’s the lyrics:
Down in the park
Where the machmen meet the machines
And play `kill-by-numbers’
Down in the park with a friend called `five’
I was in a car crash
Or was it the war
But I’ve never been quite the same
Little white lies like “I was there”
Come to “zom-zom’s” a place to eat
Like it was built in one day
You can watch the humans
Trying to run
Oh look there’s a rape machine
I’d go outside if he’d look the other way
You wouldn’t believe
The things they do
“We are not lovers
We are not romantics
We are here to serve you”
A different face but the words never change
Down in the park
Where the chant is “death, death”
Until the sun cries morning
Down in the park with friends of mine
Yeah, it scream sci-fi thriller to me. Odd 70s sci-fi thriller with wierd feathered hair and leather jackets, and Heston saying “Goddamn dirty… machines!” In the end, though, I have to admit: it’s a masterful song. Kudos to you, Gary Numan. I may never have heard your name before now, and tons of people may have redone your original work in better ways, but you were definitely the guy wierd enough to come up with it in the first place. And that’s worth a tip of the hat.