Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Timothy” — The Buoys (1970)

Trapped in a mine that had caved in
And everyone knows the only ones left
Were Joe and me and Tim
When they broke through to pull us free
The only ones left to tell the tale
Were Joe and me

Timothy, Timothy, where on earth did you go?
Timothy, Timothy, God why don’t I know?

You know, there’s a ton of absolutely bonkers songs that somehow became hits, and the vast majority of them are from the 1970s. This makes some kind of sense; after presidential assassinations, Vietnam, the counter-culture revolutions, and the nascency of network variety shows, the 70s gave us smashes like Seasons In The Sun(You’re) Having My BabyMuskrat LoveLife Is A Rock but the Radio Rolled Me… and Timothy.

Timothy.

Oh boy.

OK. So it’s like this: Rupert Holmes, the singer-songwriter behind Escape (The Piña Colada Song) — also a bizarre 70s tune on a wholly other level — anyway, he was involved with this late 60s/70s band called The Buoys. The Buoys were haven’t much luck in the biz, and they were apparently signed for only a single 45.

So the former David Goldstein (Holmes) had a brilliant idea: record a song that was so repulsive, so morally repugnant, that it would banned by radio stations all over the country. There’s no publicity like bad publicity to gain GREAT publicity.

So Holmes wrote and played piano on his brand-new, sure to be banned trash single Timothy.

Except that didn’t quite happen; Timothy became a Top 20 smash in the spring of 1971. And that was pretty much the last anyone heard of The Buoys.

You’re asking yourself, “What makes this a worthwhile Buttkickin’ Halloween Song?” Answer: what made Timothy so allegedly horrifically awful was that the song was about cannibalism.

CANNIBALISM.

The story is like this: three minors (Joe, Timothy, and the narrator) are trapped after their mine collapsed. There’s scarcely enough water for all three of them. And there’s certainly no food. They are absolutely certain to starve to death.

Cut to their rescue: they are pulled out into the light of day.  The only survivors to be found are Joe and the narrator. Timothy has disappeared. The narrator seems to have blocked some event out of his memory. And he and Joe managed to survive, and both of their bellies are full.

No one ever saw or heard from Timothy again.

And there you have it folks! Timothy has a bouncy pop swing, punctuated by some off-kilter strings punctuating the chorus. It certainly doesn’t sound particularly Halloween-ish, but take a listen and pay attention to those lyrics. That’ll give ya a bit of a wee shiver…

Hungry as hell no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat
Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, “I’ll have a swig
And then there’s some for you.”

Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?

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