harlem-roulette

Harlem Roulette
  • Harlem Roulette
  • The Mountain Goats
  • Transcendental Youth
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The Mountain Goats - “Harlem Roulette”

John Darnielle is a songwriting genius. Take “Harlem Roulette.” It’s about Frankie Lymon, a New York doo-wop singer in the ‘50s and '60s who used the large advance he received for an upcoming album to buy cocaine, ultimately overdosing. No one else would dare write a song about such a tragedy, but Darnielle takes the story and fashions it into a heartbreaking realization: “the loneliest people in the whole, wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again.”

The Mountain Goats has been one of the more prolific and consistent bands in recent memory, especially considering Transcendental Youth is their twentieth studio release over the last twenty-one years (between both cassette and CD) and their third in the last two years.

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every dream’s a good dream, even awful dreams are good dreams if you’re doing it right

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July 8th, 2015 - Daily Goat #189: Harlem Roulette

Unknown engines underneath the city
Steam pushing up in billows through the grates
Frankie Lymon’s tracking “Seabreeze” in a studio in Harlem
It’s 1968
Just a pair of tunes to hammer out
Everybody’s off the clock by ten
The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again

Feels so free when I hit the avenue
Nothing like a New York summer night
Every dream’s a good dream,
Even awful dreams are good dreams,
If you’re doing it right

Remember soaring higher than a cloud
Get pretty sentimental now and then
The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again

And four hours north of Portland, a radio flips on
And some no one from the future remembers that you’re gone

Armies massing in the dusky distance
Ghosted in the ribbon microphone
Leave a little mark on something, maybe
Take the secret circuit home

Nothing in the shadows but the shadow hands
Reaching out to sad, young, frightened men
The loneliest people in the whole wide word are the ones you’re never going to see again
Yeah, the loneliest people in the whole wide word are the ones you’re never going to see again