Well, kids, Jim Adams has given us a doozy of a prompt for Song Lyric Sunday this week: Cruel / Evil / Horrible / Monster / Wicked. You’d think he’d save these for Halloween! And he has also announced that he’s writing about two different songs, by two different artists, in two different posts. With that info, you’ll not be surprised to hear I have no compunction about choosing two different songs, particularly since both are by the same artist and both will be in this very post. (Full disclosure: I surprised myself.)
I was going about my usual #SLS research, when Google spit out an intriguing video, “Voltaire — When You’re Evil.” I figured it must be classical music, maybe from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”, one of several musical works based on the writing of the 18th century French writer and philosopher. I had seen a performance of “Candide” years ago but remembered nothing of the music, except that it was classic Bernstein.
That was my first surprise. This particular Voltaire is a 20th century Cuban-American singer/songwriter named Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez, who performs under his middle name, with or without his first name. He is actually a modern renaissance man. In addition to his music, he is a successful animator and comic artist, as well as a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
The first half of my second surprise was his music. “When You’re Evil” starts with a slow Hungarian-style violin, morphing into a more sprightly European march when the lyrics kick in. The second half of this surprise was his lyrics, which are delightfully, weirdly, witty, in a macabre sort of way. (I really should have expected that when I saw the song is from his first album, “The Devil’s Bris.”)
After listening to more of his work, I think his website sums up his style quite well.
“As a musician, he is a songwriter whose music can best be described as a collection of murder ballads, tongue-in-cheek exercises in the macabre, with just enough bawdy songs about Star Trek and Star Wars to keep a convention audience rolling in the aisles. Many know him for his songs ‘Brains!’ and ‘Land of the Dead’ from the Cartoon Network show ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy And Mandy’.”
In addition to “When You’re Evil,” I’m giving you “Death Death (Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil Song)” from his album “To The Bottom of the Sea,” the sixth of his 13 albums. Lyrics for “When You’re Evil” are in the video; for “Death Death,” scroll down to You Tube’s description section. Enjoy!