I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself
Buddy Knox I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself 45 (Roulette, 1958)
Within the stacks of records that crowd this place, I have a collection of suicide songs. I think I have amassed at least a hundred, probably more. Some of my favorites include Ede Robin's soul classic "Dead", Mott the Hoople's "Death May be Your Santa Claus", the Thought Criminals hilarious KBD standard "More Suicides Please", Il Ya Volkswagon's "Kill Myself", Dickie Lee's sappy tale of class struggle & self-suffing "Patches", and this one by Buddy Knox.
Part of the appeal of Buddy Knox's "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" is that it is so damn upbeat! With the same kinda pep he used in his first and biggest hit "Party Doll", Knox's matter-of-fact delivery and hum-inducing tale makes suicide seem like a pleasant stroll on a beautiful fall day! I'd attribute it's chart success to song's pep, but 1958 was also the year in which Jody Reynolds' "Endless Sleep", a fantastic rockabilly song about drowning oneself, also charted.
That suicide songs were early rock & roll hits isn't surprising when you include them in with the teen tragedy sub-genre. From 1957 to 1962, when rock & roll was getting subverted and watered down my the major labels, there were hundreds of songs, though musically on the flaccid pop side, which were lyrically pretty morbid. A perfect example is Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her", the story of a boy who flips his car over in a stock car race and dies. Because the kid has a feeling he is gonna die and tells his girlfriend's mom to pass on to Laura that he loves her, his crash might have been suicide. Whether it was suicide or just an ordinary fiery death in an overturned race car didn't stop "Tell Laura..." from being a big hit, and that after Peterson's label RCA/Victor refused to release it and, when finally released, the song was widely banned.
"I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" was also banned in many cities, but despite (or perhaps because of) the song's prohibition it still wasa minor hit. Unfortunately for Knox, it was his last bit of chart success. Though he continued to play music, his career wound down like many an early rocker, playing his big hit, "Party Doll", over and over on oldies shows.