Tag Archives: The Statler Brothers

Irony, Heartbreak, Depression

I’ve become obsessed with a 1966 hit by The Statler Brothers: “Flowers on the Wall.” A bluegrassy-sounding song, it won a Grammy that year, and yet it’s weird and chockful of irony. I can’t stop listening to it. See if you think it’s one of the most ironic and sad songs you’ve ever heard:

(Take a look at those Mad Men outfits!)

Anyway, do you know the song or did you just listen? Here are the lyrics:

I keep hearin’ you’re concerned about my happiness
But all that thought you’re givin’ me is conscience I guess
If I were walkin’ in your shoes, I wouldn’t worry none
While you and your friends are worried about me, I’m havin’ lots of fun

Countin’ flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me, I’ve nothin’ to do

Last night I dressed in tails, pretended I was on the town
As long as I can dream it’s hard to slow this swinger down
So please don’t give a thought to me, I’m really doin’ fine
You can always find me here, I’m havin’ quite a time

Countin’ flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me, I’ve nothin’ to do

It’s good to see you, I must go, I know I look a fright
Anyway my eyes are not accustomed to this light
And my shoes are not accustomed to this hard concrete
So I must go back to my room and make my day complete

Countin’ flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me, I’ve nothin’ to do

Don’t tell me, I’ve nothin’ to do

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Lewis Dewitt

Flowers On the Wall lyrics © Unichappell Music Inc.

The song was written by Statler Brothers tenor Lew DeWitt. The lyrics are astonishing with irony (and the sound of a ripping heart) just dripping out of every line. What an amazing description of deep depression.

Do you think the irony makes the story even more tragic?

Can you think of other songs that are equally ironic and yet heartbreaking?

Irony works the same way in poetry (of course). My top choice of an ironic poem is probably Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” a villanelle that is one of my favorites.

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
playing card deck
Photo by Israel Garcia on Pexels.com

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