tremble clef

Friday, February 03, 2006

Viola Wills, "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" (1979)

Randy Quaid. Chris Penn (RIP). Sofia Coppola circa The Godfather, Part 3. It's hard being the lesser part -- or, let's face it, sometimes fatter or uglier part -- of a famous pair or family, eh? Viola Wills may not have a famous relative, but "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" is clearly the lesser cousin of "I Will Survive." Released a year after Gloria's big hit -- although "I Will Survive" didn't hit #1 in the US until 1979, the song first appeared as the b-side to "Substitute," a 12" issued the year before. Poor "Substitute." Talk about being the lesser side, and about having an ironic name -- Viola's song is very much in the same lyrical vein. You dumped me, but I don't need you anyway. Asshole.

While "Gonna Get Along" is usually thought of as a disco track, it really lacks the frantic energy that's typical of the genre. No doubt that's why it's become the lesser cousin: the song doesn't quite have the fierceness that would endear it to people looking for something to blast from the gay pride float full of embittered lovers. Nor, since it trundles along fixated on the same message, does it have enough of a narrative -- first I was afraid, then I grew strong; I used to cry, now I hold my head up high -- that would allow the drag queens to exhibit their full! Dramatic! Range!

But think of that lack as its charm, rather than its drawback. Certainly one way to deal with being dumped is to come across all rabbit chef. I'll tell you where to put those fucking keys. But perhaps this is the other coping mechanism. Of course, much of the song is performative, designed to convince herself that she will do fine (it's "gonna get along," not "I get along without you very well"). But the attitude we're trying for is blasé indifference. But breezy ain't easy, as that Friends episode, in which Monica calls up her ex Richard and leaves a "casual" message only to blow it by saying that she's being breezy, taught us. Best then to not risk conveying breeziness through something as dangerous as actual words. Ah-ha, um-hm. Ah-ha, um-um.


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