Interpretations:Why Must I Be Sad?

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Alice In Chains[edit]

I think this may be a satire of the angsty, gothy culture of today's youth. I think "Alice" could be "Alice in Chains", one of said angsty gothy bands. The "No More Mr. Nice Guys" and the "Welcome To My Nightmare" stuff probably mocks "gothic" poetry, and "Why must I be sad?" mocks the "WHY IS MY LIFE SO MISERABLE" shpiel. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 21:37, 6 May 2004

Alice Cooper[edit]

The song's about Alice Cooper, or at least agreeing with the sentiments in Alice Cooper's songs, especially as all the songs mentioned (Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle of Love etc) are Cooper songs or albums! I think I read somewhere that Flans is an Alice Cooper fan, but I might be imagining it... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Insecthospital (talkcontribs) 13:03, 7 May 2004

Yeah, "Welcome to My Nightmare" (1976) is too strong of an allusion to mistake, but then I'm showing my age. From what I hear, the music parodies Cooper's style as well. Reading up a little on him, I see that Frank Zappa was a big influence and even worked with him on a few projects. I don't know what this means, except that it might be important in tracing the roots of certain types of music. Zappa has been confirmed as an influence on TMBG. --Flux

Am repeating myself from elsewhere on the site, but I'm really excited about this lyrical interpretation breakthrough, so here it is again!

With Roe v. Wade in the headlines again.

And now I understand, just what he said.

Billion Dollar Babies = Abortion "industry"

Mother's Lib burned birth certificate papers = Same

Alice In Wonderland[edit]

The song is also an allusion to Alice in Wonderland. The "words that Alice said" refer both to Alice Cooper and the literary Alice. In the second chapter of Alice in Wonderland, she hits her head and says:

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a great girl like you, to go on crying in this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mikewebkist (talkcontribs) 18:03, 17 September 2005

Interpretation 4[edit]

Really awesome song, possibly one of TMBG's most brilliant songs. What I find interesting is that Linnell or Flansburgh managed to work the track listing of Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies" in to the song, even though some titles were changed like Only Women Bleed/ Mary Ann. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jaybob1222 (talkcontribs) 23:37, 11 January 2006

Brilliant. do you think that this could be a tribute-like novelty to cooper and zappa? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jaybob1222 (talkcontribs) 21:46, 26 January 2006

Definitely an Alice Cooper Tribute. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Motor.on (talkcontribs) 01:37, 21 May 2006

Interpretation 5[edit]

Clearly this track is laden with Alice Cooper references, particularly of songs that appear on his albums that were released between '72 and '73. Given this, I'd venture to guess that this tune is a satirical re-living of their early adolescence. The years of the albums would put John and John at around 12 or 13, so it seems they might have listened to Alice Cooper and believed that they understood the content of the music. But ultimately they seem to miss the point because they still have to ask: "why must I be sad?" I relate it to all the silly bands that I thought I understood when I was 12 (they were really deep, and so was I!). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 21:31, 27 April 2008

Interpretation 6[edit]

I think that this song is written from the point of view of Alice Cooper's therapist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 18:53, 16 October 2008

Interpretation 7[edit]

A great song about teen angst and alienation. Sung from the point of view of a teenager who feels pubescent turmoil but doesn't quite know why (like so many of us at that time of our lives). The music of Alice Cooper gets them through this time. I love the line about writing out Cooper's lyrics in a spiral-bound notebook - I'm sure I'm not the only one here who wrote out rock lyrics in his teens! Also very apt is the line "in the hopes that some day other people will feel as low as this" - perfectly summing up the awkward and confused intensity, anger and self-obsession of puberty. It's a play on the cliched notion of writing prose or poetry to help future readers or make them feel that they're not alone, but in this case the author just wants to spread their teenage misery around. I also really like the line "Rows of dandelions growing all around me - why must I be sad?" The narrator can recognise the beautiful bucolic scene around them, but their hormones can't let them be free of the angst.


Tears of a Clown[edit]

I just noticed that the chorus is a subtle play on Smokey Robinson's classic "Tears of a Clown" (released in 1970, not far from the Alice Cooper years they're referencing). "Tears of a Clown" has almost the same self-absorbed, unconvincing melodrama of "Why Must I Be Sad?"—the Johns just adapted it from a teenage boy's perspective to heighten how embarrassing the sentiment is. See the background vocals at 00:36–00:52 [1]:

Really I'm sad (sad, sad, sad, sad)

Oh, I'm sadder than sad (I hurt so bad)
You're gone and I'm hurting so bad (I pretend to be glad)

Like a clown I appear to be glad (sad, sad, sad, sad)

Handsomer (talk) 09:48, 25 October 2017 (EDT)

Kurt Cobain[edit]

I always thought that Linnell had Kurt Cobain on his brain when he was writing the songs on John Henry, especially this one, whose simple, touching, and funny sentiment and melodically punky music really remind me of a Nirvana song. Now it remains to see if Cobain liked Alice Cooper, but I think I remember he did.