Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and if you are, congrats on proper social distancing!) you know the story of the “Three Little Pigs”. The gist of the tale is that the three little pigs each built a house out of different materials – straw, sticks, and brick – but a wolf with impressive lung capacity is able to blow the first two houses down, but fails to impart any damage on the brick house. The first two pig brothers were suddenly grateful that their third brother valued quality construction over free time and made such a sturdy house, thus proving that hard work pays off. Story over, lesson learned, right?
In case you’ve been blinded by the nuclear-orange merchandise, Richard Speight, Jr. has released an album titled The Dance and How to Do It. Rob Benedict wrote an original song for the album called “Cautionary Fairytale”, and I’m here to tell you that it’s the sequel to the “Three Little Pigs”, teaching the lesson to not let your guard down so easily. “But Sarah!” you cry, confused. “That song has nothing to do with pigs or wolves, how can it be a sequel to that story?” Well, buckle up friends, you’re in for a wild, conspiracy-filled ride.
First, let’s start off with the title, “Cautionary Fairytale”. This is a very straight forward clue – as the “Three Little Pigs” is one of the best known fairytales with a lesson to be learned. While the song itself does not mention pigs, wolves, or any other key characters directly, Benedict is a masterful storyteller through his music so it’s no stretch to imagine he was able to take this prompt and turn it into such a beautiful song.
Now, let’s take a look at the first few verses:
There was a man on my door step
He said, son, you best wake up
There’s a great wind a-comin’
Once it blows, it won’t let up
Well I was young and naive
Said I appreciate you comin’ round
But I got a house made of brick here
Ain’t no wind gonna bring it down
He left just as he came
As if he was never here
And I went, I went on livin’
Without concern, without fear
I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah, this sounds nothing like a fairytale about animals and architecture.” Just bear (pun intended) with me here. In the aftermath of the wolf’s first attack on the pigs’ houses, the third brother is overly confident in his brick home’s ability to stand up to anything the wolf can huff, puff, and/or blow at it. Therefore he ignores the warnings of the wise old owl – the man at the doorstep – who comes to tell him the wolf is coming back with reinforcements. Why an owl, you ask? Simple. Owls are often portrayed as wise creatures, but also as bad omens in some cultures. Thus, the owl is wise enough to know the wolf will return and foreshadows the eventual destruction of the pig’s precious home. After his warnings go unheeded, the owl leaves in a flutter of wings, as he is not about to stick around for what he knows is about to happen. The pig continues his life in ignorant bliss – went on living without concern or fear.
To further convince you of the truth, let’s now analyze the chorus:
Well I loved her like a fairytale, I lost her like a dream
Pull up on the roadside there and I’ll tell you what I mean
There’s things in life you can’t control and things you can’t foresee
But if you find real love, don’t ever let her leave
Listen… I can feel your skepticism already about this bit, and I came prepared. In this instance, “her” is referring to the house itself. The pig built it from the ground up with his own two hands, and very clearly poured his heart and soul into its construction. His house was priceless to him – and he loved it like a fairytale – only to lose it as suddenly as one forgets a dream they just had. Now, how exactly did the wolf get the best of this sturdy house? That part is open for interpretation, but my personal theory is he enlisted the help of his cousin Wile E. Coyote and managed to build a jet engine-powered fan (without a catastrophic failure, because the wolf, while intent on taking down this house, does not have the tunnel vision of his cousin and is able to correct problems as he goes.) Obviously this blindsides the pig, and he and his brothers barely escape. He regrets not protecting his house before it was blown away in front of his own eyes and is warning others not to make his mistake.
Moving on to the next verses:
When I awake, oh, her pillow
Lays alone on the sheets
The wind was relentless
Snatched her up like a thief
I sat up on my bedside
No more lovin’, no more grief
Just as sure as the sun rises
She went up, and took off on me
The first verse isn’t a complicated metaphor – the only item the pig was able to salvage from his house was a pillow, which he has kept with him as he moved into a new, pre-built place. The relentless jet-powered wind picked up his house a la Wizard of Oz style, literally snatching it up and blowing it to a far away land. The pig, unable to sleep, contemplates the loss of his house – it is no longer there for him to love, though he also does not have to deal with the grief of upkeep anymore as that is now his landlord’s responsibility.
Now we take a gander at the last verses:
Try to think, there’s a lesson
I got my Stetson down over my eyes
That man, he was a visionary
He saw somethin’ and he was right
And now these big thoughts go a-buzzin’
Around my fragile brain
I’m just so, so damn lonely
So I sing this here refrain
The first line is clear – there is indeed a lesson to be learned here. The pig realizes, albeit too late, that he should’ve listened to the owl. He continues to think of all the “what ifs” and ways he might have been able to save his house, which wears on his sanity. And, since he and his brothers had to scatter to different cities, he is incredibly lonely without them as neighbors.
I know you think I forgot about the Stetson. I did not. The pig has a Stetson over his eyes because he’s trying to take a nap to rest his mind from all those thoughts buzzing around. But since he spent his savings on his now-blown-away house, he did not have any money to buy curtains right away so the Stetson is to block the light so he can nap during the day.
Now that I’ve presented my evidence and opened your eyes to the truth, I’m sure you too believe this song to be a continuation of the “Three Little Pigs” tale, with the lesson to not let your guard down or throw caution to the wind. You’re welcome.
(Happy April Fools Day.)