James Darren was a teen idol of the 1950s squeaky-clean variety, best known for his role as Moondoggie on TV’s Gidgit, but also quite popular for a string of decently charting singles. Anyone born after 1980 (as I am) probably just knows him from his appearances on the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (as I am).
I’m sitting here, eating circus peanuts for lunch, so I figured it was high time I shared “Goodbye, Cruel World”. The song was Darren’s highest-charting hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard 200 back in 1961, before the Beatles came and annihilated the teen idols of old. It’s most likely the only of Darren’s songs you’ll still catch on the radio, provided the early ’60s haven’t been phased out of the oldies playlists where you live. (Gene Pitney who?) And depending on your attitude toward the circus, particularly clowns, it’s either the most delightfully off-kilter tune ever or just kinda creepy.
The poor man laments how broken his heart is; in fact, his life is so freakishly gone awry, perhaps society will benefit from gawking at his crooked smile and launching him through the air via cannon. That’s pretty heartbroken, alright! Shouldering next to the bearded lady and the mummified corpse of General Tom Thumb, James Darren’s lovelorn sap is a curiosity only P.T. Barnum could appreciate. The callipoe pushes the song into the stratosphere of hilarity.