Friday, September 14, 2007

Down in the Park

We are not lovers, we are not romantics, we are here to serve you

I first heard Down in the Park by Gary Numan (one of my favorite songs ever) when I got the Urgh! soundtrack album. (The story behind Urgh! is interesting in itself, given that Miles Copeland filmed dozens of wonderful bands performing live back in the early 80's, but most of the film will potentially never see the light of day due to a terrible, stupid issue with contracts. However, a few of the songs made it to a 90-minute compilation movie that is played sporadically on HDNet and VH1, which includes -- yay! -- Gary Numan performing Down In the Park.)

I just love this song. I used to be part of a podcast, and when it was my turn to pick the music, my first choice was DITP (you can listen to that episode, including two cool Gary Numan songs here).

Anyhoo, I am not the only one who loves this song, the Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson have both done great cover versions. I have on my iPod, at this very moment, 1) the original Gary Numan version 2) a live Gary Numan version 3) the Foo Fighters version, and 4) The Marilyn Manson version. And I love and listen to them all. It was also covered live by Christian Death, I need to find that version too. There can't be too many, dammit!

So I finally decided maybe I should try to figure out what the fuck this song is about. With lines like "Down in the park where the Machmen meet, the machines are playing Kill-by-numbers. Down in the park, with a friend called Five" I always thought it was just ol' Gary being poetic and symbolic and stuff, but apparently the album it's from (Replicas) had a dystopian science fiction theme, and DITP is meant to be taken literally.

According to the Wikipedia entry, the song "tells the chilling story of a futuristic park in which Machmen (androids with cloned human skin) and machines rape and kill human beings for the delight of spectators who, along with their numerically-named robotic "friends" view the carnage from a nearby club... In contrast to much contemporary post-punk music Numan's vocals were deliberately underplayed, leaving the slow and stately synthesizer work to evoke the song's melancholy atmosphere."

Gads. Well, the overall sound of the song was obviously pretty dark and bleak, but I was a little taken aback by the violence and horror.

I still love it though. Here are the lyrics for your reading pleasure:

Down in the park
Where the Machmen meet
The machines are playing Kill-by-numbers
Down in the park with a friend called Five

I was in a car crash
Or was it the war?
But I've never been quite the same
Little white lies like I was there

Come to Zom-Zom's, a place to eat
Like it was built in one day
You can watch the humans
Trying to run

Oh, look, there's a rape machine
I'd go outside if it looked the other way
You wouldn't believe
The things they do

Down in the park
Where the chant is death, death, death
Until the sun cries morning
Down in the park with friends of mine

We are not lovers
We are not romantics
We are here to serve you
A different face but the words never change

Wanna hear it?

You can stream the song or download it here

Selection of DITP YouTube clips:

Gary Numan live (not the Urgh! performance)

Foo Fighters video

Marilyn Manson live performance