Losing Brandy

categories: Cocktail Hour

1 comment

In the end pop culture ruins everything, even one’s (kitschy) love of pop culture.


Though Looking Glass wrote “Brandy” I have always felt a little bit of ownership of song. And not just because I sang it on all the major occasions of my life, did a poetry reading of it, and had dozens of people call me from their cars whenever they heard it. It always seem to me the perfect mix of the purely cheesy and things that really mattered to me (harbors, ports, swelling oceans–rise and glory) and a time in my life (I was 11 when it came out in ’72.) Even when I heard that Bill Murray also liked to sing it at parties I was okay with it. (After all, without Bill Murray none of us would have been doing the parody lounge singer thing.)


But when my friend Paul Turner texted me earlier today and said, “Go see Guardians of the Galaxy II. Trust me,” I knew the gig was up. I texted him back immediately, guessing that the movie featured “a song with ports and harbor towns.” When he confirmed this, and I learned that the song, in its entirety, opens the movie, I wrote back “I’ve been scooped.” What I meant by that was that, after over 45 years of talking about and singing the song, I finally got around to writing about it just this year. In fact I shelled out 680$ to include the lyrics in my new book, Ultimate Glory.  It is featured in a key scene that takes place a week after my cancer operation, when I get the whole crowd to sing it at my 30th birthday. I wrote:


“I don’t know why ‘Brandy’ affected, and still affects, me so; I only know that it had become the closest thing I had to a personal theme song. I sang it sarcastically for years but that night it seemed suffused with real emotion.  After we finished singing, I told people it was the song I wanted played at my funeral (and please note, friends who are reading this, I still do).”

I’m sure you have had a similar experience when something you loved was claimed by the pop monster.

And there it is. Less than a month before the book comes out the song no longer belongs to me but to the world. Aaargghh…

Will I grow bitter? I doubt it.

On the plus side this brings the joy of Looking Glass to more people around the world!

I am told that the character Kurt Russell plays calls it “possibly earth’s finest composition.”   I like that. Though I would have cut the “possibly” and added a “by far” at the end.

And so: I commend the filmmakers for their good taste, and I suppose I’ll have to go see it.

I’m sure I’ll sing along.

Here it is in its new form:


My favorite part:

Brandy used to watch his eyes

When he told his sailor’s stories

She could see the ocean fall and rise

She saw its rage and glory.


But he had always told the truth

Lord, he was an honest man

And Brandy does her best to understand.






  1. Mike Land writes:

    Yes, I can confirm the “Brandy” inclusion – Kurt Russell does a fine critical parsing of the song’s lyrics – but it’s also worth noting that when I asked my first-year students this semester to bring in song lyrics they thought they could justify as literature, one of the 18-year-olds, to my shock, brought in “Brandy.”

    So it must have universality and all of that. Stick by your guns.