I put it online and in no time at all it went viral. People the world over were weeping into their keyboards. Those who downloaded it at work were so overcome they had to be excused for the rest of the day. The work absences actually began to have a detrimental effect on the global economy but, excluding a handful of deaf economists, everyone was too busy listening to the music to notice.
I found myself performing the piece in the world’s largest arenas. Images of poverty stricken children, the war dead and washed up whales were projected onto a large screen behind me. These concerts were nothing less than orgies of emotional divestment with communal sobbing, mass wailing and group hugging. As my tune approached its climax, audiences would tumble from their seats and inconsolably writhe around on the venue floors, which would be wet and slippery with tears. When the performances concluded, the concert goers would pull themselves together. Sniffing and snuffling, they would slowly get to their feet, don their coats, and form an orderly queue for the exit. It was very odd.
The music was used in several feature films and in advertising campaigns for various products, the promotion of which required staggering poignancy. A new social phenomenon sprang up where suburban types gathered in certain houses on certain days to listen to the tune and weep together. These get-togethers were effectively car key parties only with tears as the principle bodily emission. My tune then became a much requested funeral accompaniment, which I found off-putting. What disturbed me most though were the thousands of unhappy citizens jumping under buses and from high buildings with my tune looping on their MP3s. I decided it was all becoming a bit unhealthy.
I returned home and set about writing a piece that would lift the spirit of the human race. A jaunty little thing that would pop and fizz its way along until it burst into a rousing chorus of anthemic joie de vivre. When completed, I kept this new tune under wraps as the promoters set about booking me into the world’s major venues. My C’mon, Let’s Smile tour kicked off under the stunning glass dome of the Frankfurt Festhalle. The place was packed with Teutonic misery junkies eagerly awaiting their next fix. Well I was going to ‘fix’ them alright. I was about to turn them on to a new kick. A kick called happiness.
I sat poised, the Stylophone on my lap, the immense throng hushed before me. I lowered the stylus and began to play. My new number made its merry way out into the audience, permeating the sea of heads with good vibes, growing catchier and more joyful all the while. Or so I thought. Over the sound of my melodious merriment I began to hear boos. Paper cups were thrown on stage. People started roaring up at me: ‘Play The Sad One!’ ‘Play The Sad One!’
I ignored them. I gritted my teeth. I persevered. They will be happy! They WILL! I stabbed the stylus down into the tiny machine and it began to squawk. The notes became sustained and intense. My happy tune distorted into a twisted mockery of good cheer. My frustration transformed the piece in such a way that it became a subversion of its original intention. If you can imagine a Dalek singing Jingle Bells, it was something like that. I was horrified. I tried to calm down but then I realised that the audience were cheering. The music had told them that happiness was an unsustainable sham and they agreed. In the grip of something far stronger than my conscious agenda, I had no choice but to improvise a segue and go straight into the sad tune. A huge roar of approval and then a mass outpouring of tears. I had failed. My muse had betrayed me. It was on their side.
I have played the sad tune so often now that it no longer affects me. I have been inoculated against its melancholy appeal. You might still see me weeping as I perform but it is not because I am moved by my work, it is because I am imprisoned by it. I am doomed to forever peddle the pornography of misery to an audience that never wanted to be happy in the first place.