Hollies – "King Midas in Reverse" (1967)
It’s plain to see it’s hopeless
Going on the way we are
My grandson Jack (who will turn five next month) came over tonight to sleep at my house.
While we were driving back from dinner, today’s featured song – one of my personal favorites – came on the radio.
Jack often asks “What’s that song about?” when he’s in the car with me and I have the radio on – as he did tonight when “King Midas in Reverse” came on.
I explained to him that King Midas, who lived a long time ago, was a greedy man who once wished that everything he touched be turned into gold.
Midas’s wish was granted. He was delighted to find that sticks and stones were instantly transformed into hunks of gold when he picked them up.
But when Midas’s lunch was transformed into indigestible precious metal when he started to partake of it, he began to realize that his wish might have been a bad idea.
The light bulb really went on over his head when he touched his beloved daughter, instantly turning her into a golden statue:
* * * * *
Jack’s a very sensitive little guy, and we try to avoid talking about people, animals, and even insects dying when he’s around.
I was afraid that the image of Midas’s daughter being turned into a lifeless statue would upset him, so I left that part out when I told him the story of King Midas.
To tell the truth, that part of the story disturbs me as well. I’d just as soon not think about it.
* * * * *
When we got home, I broke out the DVD of the movie adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s 1950 novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for Jack to watch.
Years ago, I read Lewis’s seven Narnia books to my kids, and I’ve been looking forward to the time when I could read them to my grandkids. (Even if you don’t have kids or grandkids, you need to read the Narnia books – they are wonderful on so many levels.)
I wasn’t sure if Jack was old enough for the movie, but thought I would give it a shot – I told him that the movie was boring or confusing or scary, we could turn it off and watch Paw Patrol, or PJ Masks, or maybe his newest favorite show – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
I found out later that the people who reviewed the movie for the Common Sense Media website generally were of the opinion that the movie was too intense for kids who were younger than nine or ten years old, so I might have jumped the gun with Jack.
* * * * *
The movie opens with a scene of as mother and her four children running for shelter as bombs rain down on London during World War II. (The father isn’t with them because he’s an RAF pilot.) The next day, the mother puts her children on a crowded train that will take them to stay at a friend’s house in the country for the duration of the Blitz.
I was afraid that the thought of the children being separated from their mother might make Jack sad, so I explained to him that the mother was sending them away to a nice place where they would be far away from the war.
That didn’t satisfy Jack. “But what will happen to the mom?” he asked, visibly upset.
* * * * *
Later in the movie, the White Witch – a villainess who was a very nasty piece of work indeed – pointed her magic scepter at a brave fox who had tried to foil her evil plan, turning him into a statue.
Not a golden statue – just a plain old stone statue.
Jack became distraught when he saw that scene. I assured him that the movie’s heroes would defeat the White Witch and turn the statue back into a living fox who was good as new. That calmed him down.
I stopped the movie about halfway through, promised Jack that we watch the rest on his next visit, and took him upstairs to get into his pajamas.
I sure hope I’m right about the way the movie comes out. Jack’s not going to be happy with me if I can’t deliver on my promise.
* * * * *
“King Midas in Reverse” was released by the Hollies as a single in September 1967:
The song – written by Graham Nash – barely snuck into the top 20 in the UK, and peaked at #51 on the U.S. charts. That’s pretty bad when you realize that 12 of the 13 previous Hollies singles had made it into the top ten in the UK, and nine of those singles cracked the top five.
The ho-hum reaction of the public to “King Midas in Reverse” – a more complex and ambitious record than the Hollies’ more successful singles – caused the band to go back to releasing simpler material. When Nash’s bandmates refused to follow up “King Midas in Reverse” by recording his "Marrakesh Express," he packed up and moved to Los Angeles, where he hooked up with Stephen Stills and David Crosby.
Click here to listen to “King Midas in Reverse.”
Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: