Song Lyric Sunday 04/08/2019 – Song from a TV Show



Thank you to Jim Adams, who hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of familiar, and some not so familiar, songs.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

The theme for this week posed a bit of a problem for me as I could quite happily live without television in my life!

I was 14 when we first had a television. Black and white of course, and only one channel. At 16, I joined the army and went to college for 3 years. No television. At 19 I deployed to the Middle East. No television. At 21 I went to Germany. Very little television. My daughter grew up with Sesame Street in German. So it goes on. I watched TV intermittently. Today, if the television is on, the chances are that I am reading blogs rather than watching it.

However, I think it is impossible to be untouched by television. I have seen a fair selection along the way, and one thing I MUST see, when it is on, is Later……with Jools Holland. He is a consummate musician and performer in his own right and , over the years, has introduced a gargantuan list of artists of every genre imaginable, and then some! You can see the list here.  

So I thought here we have a huge number of songs I can use for my SLS choice this week.


Instead, I suddenly thought of one show that I found to be both funny, thought provoking, and, at times, downright sad!

M*A*S*H (an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) was an American war comedy-drama television series that aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983. It was developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, which, in turn, was based on Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The series, which was produced with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS, follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the “4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War (1950–53). The show’s title sequence features an instrumental-only version of “Suicide Is Painless,” the original film’s theme song. The show was created after an attempt to film the original book’s sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, failed. The television series is the best-known of the M*A*S*H works, and one of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history. (wikipedia)

This was, of course, being shown at the time of the Vietnam War, and was highly controversial. What started out as a comedy, with drama overtones soon became a drama with added comedy!

It’s a long time ago now, but I seem to remember that the “squaddie” humour really came across well, and could evoke real feelings of sadness, even the odd tear or two.

Suicide Is Painless is a song written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Michael Altman (lyrics). It was the theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H.

Director Robert Altman had two stipulations about the song for Mandel: it had to be called “Suicide Is Painless” and it had to be the “stupidest song ever written”. Altman attempted to write the lyrics himself, but upon finding it too difficult for his 45-year-old brain to write “stupid enough,” he gave the task to his 14-year-old-son Michael, who wrote the lyrics in five minutes. Ironically, the son’s income from royalties for the song far exceeded his father’s income for the film.

So here it is. The Tongue-in-cheek theme song for the very sad tongue in cheek comedy about the Korean war. The film was released in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam war, and the TV series debuted in 1972, appealing to the growing anti war crowd, lasted 11 years, and was arguably one of the most successful series ever.

The TV series used instrumental versions of the song only.

Suicide Is Painless

Johnny Mandel

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say

Suicide is painless (suicide)
It brings on many changes (changes)
And I can take or leave it if I please

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger
Watch it grin

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied oh why ask me?

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

And you can do the same thing if you please

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Johnny Mandel / Michael B Altman

Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc



10 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday 04/08/2019 – Song from a TV Show

  1. One of my all time favorite shows. When I was learning guitar/ukulele I taught myself this song. Though after 3 years of lessons I was hopelessly unskilled, I could play SUICIDE IS PAINLESS and was quite proud of myself for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you, I’m no TV junkie. In fact we had no television at all when I was growing up or in young adulthood. Consequently I never saw this show at all. Looks as if I might have missed out …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strange … the lyrics don’t seem very stupid at all. I loved this show. When it was funny, it was hilarious and when it was serious, it was heartbreaking. An excellent choice Peter!

    Liked by 1 person

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