Saturday, March 15, 2008

Unhappy ungulate.


I was reordering my CD collection for the first time in ages, an activity I abandoned during the children’s sequential search-and-destroy toddler stages. I came to a disk called Desire of the Rhino King, by Adrian Belew, an album released in 1991.

It’s one of the first CDs I ever bought, at Amoeba Records in Berkeley. I bought it for the song called The Lone Rhinoceros, which had previously appeared on Lone Rhino (1982). Its words, occasionally played on Toronto’s alt rock radio station years earlier, still haunted me.

The song is despairing and angry and funny, like so many great things.

I'm a lone rhinoceros
there ain't one hell of a lot of us
left in this world

I stand alone in my concrete cell
where people stare and toss me Coke cans
I guess it's better than being poached
but I'd give my horn just to see my homeland

I'm a lone rhinoceros
there ain't one hell of a lot of us
left in this world

They say I am ugly,
call me a beast
I hear them snicker
when I'm half asleep
Is beauty such a big commodity
I always heard it was only so deep

I'm a lone rhinoceros
there ain't one hell of a lot of us
left in this world

I know the zoos protect my species
they give me food, collect my feces
but I can't help it, I miss the past
I'll never again see my good old mudbath

I stuck the disk into this computer to hear the song again. The last line, as I had held it in my head for so long, was wrong. I had believed the line was “I’ll never again see my good old mother,” which had struck an achingly poignant chord. Yearning for the comfort of your absent mother.

Nope.

I’m sure a mudbath is comforting too.

The lyrics done, the music dissolves into mournful, distorted moans. No, no comfort at all.

1 comment:

pookie said...

Well, for some of us, a mother's absence is much more comforting. And a mudbath sounds pretty good right now.

I stopped going to zoos in my mid-20s, as it depressed me to see the animal prisoners.