“M” is for “Murphy’s Law” and “Music”

Murphy’s Law says “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” So says Merriam-Webster.  Other dictionaries contain similar definitions, but not all agree with the actual words. The Wikipedia article gives a convoluted history of similar sayings dating back to 1866. OK, so there’s no agreement on the actual words; surely, someone named Murphy originated it. The same Wikipedia article (tl;dr) doesn’t bring a “Murphy” into this history until circa 1949.

In a nutshell, Edward Murphy developed devices to measure human tolerance for g-forces during testing of rapid deceleration at what is now Edwards Air Force Base. The devices failed, and Murphy allegedly tried to deflect blame onto an assistant, claiming “if that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” Others on the project mocked Murphy’s excuse, eventually calling it “Murphy’s Law,” using words other than Murphy’s or Webster’s. Murphy, of course, and his son on his behalf denied ever mouthing those words. Both Murphys, however, agreed that the saying did originate with Murphy’s blaming his assistant for his failure. Ironically, the words they put into Murphy’s mouth are essentially a long-winded version of “Murphy’s Law.”

For sh*ts and giggles, and if you have a lot of time for a rabbit hole, visit the Murphy’s Laws website for a plethora of Murphy’s Law trivia, mostly tongue-in-cheek. According to Wikipedia’s “disambiguation” page, Murphy’s Law has been used as the title of television series (British and American), a novel, a film, a punk band, several albums and songs, and a 2016 Disney XD series. (Whatever an XD series is, that’s one rabbit hole I’m not going down.)

My favorite Murphy’s Law is none of the above. It’s a 2020 video I stumbled across on YouTube called, you guessed it, “Murphy’s Law.” This one has an actual Murphy — Irish singer-songwriter/record producer Roisin Murphy. This Murphy has been active on the UK/Irish/European music scene in one capacity or another since 1999. Her style is electropop/disco/hip-hop/dance club/art-pop type music. It’s hard for me to describe, but if you know anything about some of the idiosyncratic performers she credits as influences — Iggy Pop, Siouxie Sioux, Grace Jones, Bjork — you can get a sense of her style. Here’s the video:







6 thoughts on ““M” is for “Murphy’s Law” and “Music”

  1. I was surprised that the history of Murphy’s Law was so convoluted and detailed! On the Murphy’s Law website, one commenter says it was had been known as “sod’s law” for generations in his area of England ” because it would happen to any poor sod who needed such a catastrophic event the least.”

    Glad you like the song, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here’s a little comparison between Murphy’s and Sod’s laws.

    If things only go wrong when they can, you can make sure they don’t. Obviously, if things can’t go wrong, they won’t. Murphy’s law becomes an incitement to be more careful: a forceful, energetic, Yankee take on things.

    Sod’s law is quite different. My guess is that its origins are English or Irish. It is essentially fatalistic. Sod’s law will operate however careful and energetic you are. The best any of us can do is put up with things—preferably with a wry smile.

    People go on talking about ‘the West’, as though we were one society, or one civilisation. The events of September 11th help foster this myth, since the Europeans who died can easily be seen as part of the same society as the (many more) Americans. The truth is that the West is already two societies, and one is the stronger. American ideas are flooding Europe, and will prevail.

    In other words, we will all end up paying lip service to Murphy’s law. (But of course. That’s sod’s law.) (Michael Scannell – Jottings 2006)

    Liked by 1 person

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