Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lung Cancer: Lots of Laughs?

It's not everyone who can write a song titled "Lung Cancer" with the expectation of getting laughs.

The fourth song on the first side of Welcome to Paradise gives the world a full dose of what Randy Stonehill has become noted for: an absurd sense of humor.

she went down to the corner store
and bought a pack of filter kings
don't you know tomorrow she'll be back for more
'cause she really loves to smoke those things

and every time that she inhales
a cloud of that cigarette smoke
she's just one step closer to the man in black
and sixty cents closer to broke

she's been working on
lung cancer, emphysema, a cardiac arrest
and she'll probably have a stroke when she sees
the x-rays of her chest

when she had her first cigarette
a puff or two was all she could take
now if she doesn't have one in her hand all the time
you'll notice it begin to shake

even though she's nonchalant
and acts as if her habit's a joke
she won't do too much laughing when
her life goes up in smoke

she's been smoking that C-I-G-A-R-E-T-T-E
that cigarette's got her on her knees
that darn tobacco won't set her free

alright, suck, baby, suck
suck on that cigarette
go on and light up that fag and take a drag
it's bound to snuff you yet
©1976 King of Hearts Publishing

Truth is...there are at least two ways one can tell this song was written in the mid-1970s instead of the early 21st Century. One, "sixty cents closer to broke" would have to be "ten dollars closer to broke" to match today's economic reality. Two, today we seem to be more concerned about showing empathy for those struggling with nicotine addiction; making it seem heartless to make fun of something so physically harmful. (Note: Instead of "physically harmful," I wanted to type "utterly stupid," but this is 2019, not 1976.)

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