Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Gong Show

In 1975 Morris Albert recorded a song that left an indelible mark on my psyche, much like a hot branding iron leaves a blistered, burning flesh wound on the rear end of a cow. Just one year later Chuck Barris would pick open the scabs by dedicating an episode of the then-ubiquitous “Gong Show” to performers offering their ghastly renditions of the song, performances that would have made Simon Cowell consider William Hung a master at his craft. It has become a prototype for all the overly-sentimental lounge songs that spewed forth from the gullets of polyester-clad slime-balls so prevalent in the decade that gave birth to face lifts, Watergate, Bob Barker and the Love Boat.
Nothing more than feelings.
Trying to forget my feelings of love.

Most people remember the song’s most identifiable lyrics: “whoa, whoa, whoa”. Yes, it was that good. And Morris Albert, along with radio stations across the fruited plain made sure we all shared his painful agony over and over and over and over.

I am fully aware that somewhere out there in cyberspace someone is feeling insulted. Someone cried through a break-up singing that song. Someone was served divorce papers while it played on their AM transistor radio. Someone had a Tiger Beat poster of Morris Albert in their locker. I know not everyone shares my nausea. But I think most do, and so, as a self-appointed spokesman for the masses, I propose we erase all evidence it was ever produced. I fear that two thousand years from now some archaeologist digging in the ruins of what was once a thriving “Record Theatre” franchise will find an old 45 and base their understanding of our age on “whoa, whoa, whoa”.

This past December I began my forty-second year of existence. As I age, hopefully in wisdom and age and favor before God and man, I begin to see the enormity of wasted time and energy all around me: grudges and enmity…Gossip and hatred…anger and animosity…prejudice and conceit. I do not present myself simply as an accuser: I stand before God guilty of all this and more. As I begin what I perceive as the mid-point of my life I look at my weaknesses with certain sadness, recognizing the losses I have suffered by concentrating on…nothing. Like a stupid song playing over and over I have filled much of my time with meaningless garbage.

Feelings. Nothing more than feelings.

Much of our day is dominated by our feelings of anger, hurt, jealousy, envy, and disappointment. We beat ourselves up, and worse, others, too. We assume the motivations and thoughts of others. We judge actions and form opinions in complete ignorance and act on them as though they were fact. We hurt those we love most and isolate others with our words. We, "the daughters and sons of Him who built the valleys and plains"...who should know better.  So much time lost.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Habits are a hard thing to break, but I want to love more. I want to separate myself from the fleeting emotions that cloud my thinking. I want to share in the lives of those I love and mend the fences that I have broken. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Back in 1976 every one of the contestants on that shining Chuck Barris contribution to society heard the mighty clang of the gong and were sent away packing. They were all that bad. It would be a funny thing if there was a gong on judgment day. Well, not really all that funny.


  1. Excellent post. Humor and truth all in one. A gong on judgment day would be a bit of divine irony. Thanks for the walk down memory lane- I think :)

  2. Great post, David. But I thought trumpets were to sound on Judgment day.


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