Have to believe we are magic…

A year ago last week, I went out on a limb and declared Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street to be the best song ever written. It was a courageous stand, and I took a lot of heat for it, but it was the right thing to do… And, I’m about to do it again.

Today, I’d like to make an equally provocative, yet equally warranted, announcement concerning Olivia Newton John’s song Magic, from the Xanadu soundtrack. After a great deal of research and soul-searching, I hereby formally declare it to be the most unsettling song ever performed in the English language.

I started thinking about it a few days ago, as I was driving around by myself, just as the sun was coming up. The song came on the radio, and, for some reason, instead of just mindlessly singing along, like I’ve been doing since the song came out, when I was a kid, I actually listened to the words… I mean, I really listened to them. And they freaked me the fuck out… Admittedly, I was tired and hungry, and I was probably more susceptible to being freaked out than usual, but have you ever listened to the song? It’s like she’s talking right to you, telling you to do all of this stuff. It’s totally fucking creepy.

Here’s how it begins.

Come take my hand
You should know me
I’ve always been in your mind
You know I will be kind
I’ll be guiding you

Building your dream
Has to start now
There’s no other road to take
You won’t make a mistake
I’ll be guiding you

You have to believe
We are magic
Nothing can stand in our way
You have to believe
We are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Destiny will arrive
I’ll bring all your dreams alive
For you
I’ll bring all your dreams alive
For you

From where I stand
You are home free
The planets align so rare
There’s promise in the air
And I’m guiding you

Through every turn
I’ll be near you
I’ll come any time you call
I’ll catch you when you fall
I’ll be guiding you…

How is it that we have crazy people all the time killing folks because of movies like Batman, or because they imagine that famous people, like Jodie Foster, are communicating with them trough hidden messages, but no one, to my knowledge, has ever done anything even remotely terrible as a result of this song, which is clearly urging listeners to act on ominous, unspecified plans, promising that, if they do, they’ll be looked after by magic forces?

Who the fuck needs to get messages from a talking dog when you have something like this in popular culture?

Here it is, for those of you who have never had the pleasure. Let me know if you agree.

[note: A close second on the all time most upsetting list would be Hellen Reddy’s Angie Baby, followed by something from the Throbbing Gristle catalog, like Hamburger Lady.]

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17 Comments

  1. Boner
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    All I can say is she brought all my dreams alive when I was a kid.

  2. Edward
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    If by “dreams” you mean “penis”.

  3. Tommy
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Yep. The penis talking to the left hand is what these lyrics were all about – it should be obvious.

    Hottest. Mullett. Ever.

  4. Knox
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I think I read that Herman Cain decided to wage his presidential campaign because of this song.

  5. anonymous
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It worked in the context of Xanadu, in which ONJ played one of nine muses, who, if I’m not mistaken, encouraged a man to open a restaurant, or something. I think she sang this song on roller skates.

  6. Arturo
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I never thought I’d see a list containing Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton John and Throbbing Gristle.

    What an incredible tour that would be.

  7. Posted July 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The song Broken Wings by Mister Mister is also very creepy. As are many Barenaked Ladies songs.

    Even creepier image for you: at my first post-law school job, I worked in a prosecuting attorney’s office. One of the supervisors was completely creepy–he literally lived in his mom’s basement (always had), was in his 50s, and just nasty (look up Wilbur from the Mary Worth strip for more: http://maryworthandme.blogspot.com/2012/07/mary-worth-1364.html).

    He had this thing for ONJ and had pictures of her in his office and on his desk (nothing naked or anything). He had a video game on his computer that would make ONJ moaning sounds when he shot something and when he did something else (I forgot what), it would play the chorus to Have To Believe We Are Magic. I brought it to the attention of some other women in the office and we all agreed it was creepy and I talked to our boss about it. To his credit, “Wilbur” was very gracious and said he hadn’t even realized that it was inappropriate. Nevertheless, I can’t look at ONJ in the same way since then….

  8. Eel
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Genesis P-Orridge and Olivia Newton John, if I’m not mistaken, are undergoing surgery so that they become the same person.

  9. ChelseaL
    Posted August 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Um, well, I just wanted to say I’m with you on *Baker Street,* so to speak. Maybe not the best song ever, but it’s a defensible choice.

  10. Observer
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    How is it that the ONJ thread only has two likes, and the one about the crazy small town fascist has one hundred and fifty eight?

  11. Posted August 3, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Olivia Newton John’s grandfather was the great quantum physicist, Max Born.

  12. Bruce
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Baker street is NOT the greatest song ever but it is the creepiest. Even as a 6 year old that song gave me the creeps. I imagine it’s something a dirty old pedophile puts on before he has sex with a child.

  13. Guadalupe
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Is this song telling anyone else to kill their parents, or is it just me?

  14. RealMcCoy1370
    Posted October 18, 2022 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    In my mind it’s about trusting and listening to the still small voice inside of you and believing in yourself. Some might even say it’s a “spiritual” song and that the voice is “God” or whatever supreme being/universal force that you believe in. Ultimately, I think the song can be interpreted many ways and is brilliant as it’s a reflection of you.

    To the the person who made the last comment-I’ve NEVER heard anyone interpret it as telling someone to “kill their parents”…honestly-seems a stretch and a really odd interpretation. If that’s what you hear, perhaps you should seek some psychological counseling.

  15. A Friend
    Posted August 28, 2023 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s eerie. If you read the New Testament and especially the letters from Paul to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians where he explains the Good News (Gospel) and what Christ Jesus’ Crucifiction accomplished for mankind. He explained that the Holy Spirit was an eternal presence and that the purpose was to sanctify anyone who would take Faith, repent, be Born again and receive God’s Grace.

  16. Marion D
    Posted January 24, 2024 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s not just the lyrics which are far more innocuous than you’re interpreting them to be – especially in the context of the movie. Combine the lyrics with the unsettling intro melody and background melody which is quite odd, and you might have something.

  17. Douglas Smith
    Posted February 14, 2024 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    She is talking to Jesus it is a song that is creepier than you know.

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