Monday, November 18, 2019

Certain Songs #1682: The Pursuit of Happiness – “Hard To Laugh” | Medialoper

Album: Love Junk
Year: 1988

. . .

Gonna be a bit of a contrarian here. Obviously the big single — and good lord is “big” used relatively here — by The Pursuit of Happiness is the cynical late-20s drum-fueled anthem “I’m An Adult Now,” in which the narrator realizes that his youth is coming to an end and is suddenly in a blind panic about how to deal with it.

It’s a pretty funny song, no doubt, but even then, I wasn’t really down with all of the conclusions it came up with, and I’m not sure it ever fully resolved the contradiction of being a loud song that took the stance that it was now bad to listen to loud songs. No doubt that was part of the joke, and I’m thinking way too hard about it.

Also, it might be that I preferred “Hard to Laugh,” which starts the album out with a big-ass near-metal riff and lead happiness-pursuier Moe Berg singing in the the second person about a dude who seems to have it all on the relationship front.

People always ask you
Why you’re so serious
‘Cause your woman’s got a body
That would make most men delirious

Yeah, she’s got a body
Of that you’re painfully aware
‘Cause everytime you see it
You want to pull out your hair

But then Berg pulls the rug out with the revelation that things aren’t at all they seem on the surface.

But it’s hard to laugh when you know that she’s been cheating
Had her hands around him and she’s been giving it a beating
Well it’s hard to laugh when you know that she’s been lying
But you’ve got to laugh to prevent yourself from crying

With backing vocalist Leslie Stanwyck adding harmonies as well as elongating “lauuuuuuuuuuuuugggggh” on nearly every line, “Hard To Laugh” straddles the lines between punk, pop and metal nearly effortlessly, with Berg taking a big-ass guitar solo where you’d expect the bridge to be. All in all, “Hard To Laugh” is a fully kick-ass song, and an absolutely lost gem.

“Hard to Laugh”

“Hard to Laugh” official video

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