Monday, March 30, 2009

Number with Wings

The corruption of innocence and the headiness of human desperation are the two striking themes that are handled beautifully in The Bongo’s song “Number with Wings.” And for once, the music video perfectly fits the song as well, thanks to some great candy colored lighting, sinister characters, a mysterious glowing box, and apt direction by Juliano Waldman.

Now I have always been a huge sucker for neon light, especially when it is used for darker purposes and this video is the perfect example of that. While it is very similar in design to the video for Klaus Nomi’s “Falling in Love Again,” tonally it is completely different to the sexually charged, confectionary world created in the Nomi video.

I spy
I see through everything
but I know
I don’t know anything
and on cold nights
my soul is like anyone’s
and on slow nights
I’d forgive anyone

Lyrically the song has a beautifully cryptic and sad desperation to it that really makes it unique. It helps that the Bongos were talented musically, with the song’s stark baseline, steady drum, great guitar work, and Richard Barone’s young sounding voice that pleads the chorus. Everyone has felt the gut-stab of loneliness and there is nothing worse than the loneliness of the heart and the loins. (The two do go hand in hand more than anyone would care to admit in their darkest hour.)

The video is something else. Desperation morphs into weird thrills (a creepy schoolteacher gleefully spanking a young boy, a beautiful woman seducing herself with a teddy bear), voyeurism (repeated images of Barone and the rest of the band looking through a window, their faces often anguished, the adolescent boy and girl all too merrily looking inside the box displaying psycho-sexual sights), and the innocent trying to figure out things in a world full of adults with bad intent. The only non-creepy adults in this universe is the band, clad in black robes, looking like a cross between lost citizens and a cult group. (Which is funny since The Bongos are a cult group. Get it? Yes even I can be a slave to the pun!)

All in all, this is a fantastic song and video that did not get enough love when it was initially released, back around 1983. Anyone who dares to mock the early days of video needs to sit their uneducated asses in front of their computer screen and watch “Number with Wings.” Enjoy ladies and gents!

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