Art Garfunkel- “Bright Eyes”
There are two songs in the world which are guaranteed to make me cry: Ordinary World by Duran Duran, and Bright Eyes. One is about what it is like not being a pop star any more, something I should find difficult to empathise with. And the other is about rabbits. I am not a rabbit, so why does Bright Eyes effect me so much?
Theories are called for:
1: The Watership Down factor: Bright Eyes is, if not the theme to Watership Down, THE song from it. A brutally sad tale of rabbits, I did not see Watership Down until I was much older: it is after all a pretty disturbing film. My main memories were then of the odd except on Top Of The Pops. The animated rabbits did look sad, but I am rarely touched by poor drawn animals.
2: Mortality: This could be the rub, I think my Grandad died about the same time as Bright Eyes reached number one. The line “how can the light that burns so brightly, suddenly burn so pale” is more than emphatic about illness and death. Let’s be fair, this is no jolly song: the first verse does mention a river of death after all.
3: Singability: This is not a “round the barrel organ” classic, but the chorus in particular invites a singalong. And whilst it can sound odd bellowed out by burly drunken fellows, it never loses its edge of wistfulness. And it suits the acoustics of a bathroom perfectly.
4: Art Garfunkel: The tall one out of Tom & Jerry? A certain Mr Hopkins of this parish will rave (rightly) about his Jimmy Webb numbers, but the beauty of Art’s voice is how unaffected it is. It is quiet here, holding the moment, and never really letting on that it is a song about rabbits. Perhaps that is the key, he manages to inhabit the idea of a frightened creature, with his ridiculous barnet and borderline falsetto. Bright Eyes might be an easy song to sing, but no-one sings it quite like Art Garfunkel.
It is a combination of these issues which I love about Bright Eyes. It has the instant power to transport. It turns up briefly in the Wallace & Grommit rabbit themed movie, and instantly conjured a smile. Not because it was necessarily funny, but the rabbits and the song (and what a song) will never leave me.
*If I am on my own, feeling a bit down and adequately hydrated. I don’t burst into tears all the time.