Everyone is gearing up for A Series of Unfortunate Events launching on Netflix tomorrow, giving the Lemony Snicket series a second chance at life after a failed movie adaptation. What has not been given a second life, tragically, is the greatest fan art that came out of the series, the album “The Tragic Treasury” by the band The Gothic Archies.
Fronted by Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, The Gothic Archies was more than just a bunch of fan artists, as it also included “Snicket” author Daniel Handler, who played the accordion. Their most famous tune is the theme song for iconic kid’s show The Adventures of Pete and Pete back in the 90s. The band has been in and out of the spotlight for over twenty years, but reunited the same year that Handler released the thirteenth and final installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, aptly named The End. Merritt’s voice couldn’t fit the mood of the series any better, as he drawled through the lyrics with the passivity and gloom often felt by the Baudelaire orphans, the troubled young protagonists of the series.
While the album includes one original song for every book Snicket wrote in the original series, the first season of the Netflix series only covers the first four books, so let’s start our excavation and appreciation there.
1) “Scream and Run Away” - from The Bad Beginning
This song is the only piece from The Tragic Treasury that ever received a music video, and it came complete with the ever-mysterious Lemony Snicket character giving you the lyrics one cue card at a time. The first track on the album does a great job of introducing the series’ antagonist Count Olaf, played in the Netflix series by Neil Patrick Harris.
2) “In the Reptile Room - from The Reptile Room
The Reptile Room is one of the lighter sections of the Baudelaire orphans’ lives, offering them moments of reprieve in the reptile room of their agreeable guardian and herpetologist Uncle Monty, who is played in the series by Aasif Mandvi of Daily Show fame. Count Olaf manages to wedge his way into the story eventually, but this relatively upbeat song matches one of the happiest times the Baudelaires have in the entire series.
3) “The World Is a Very Scary Place” - from The Wide Window
While the lyrics “the number of ways to die is infinite” could easily apply to any of the Baudelaires’ exploits, this song built around a massive fear of the world refers to the Baudelaires’ third guardian Aunt Josephine. Played by Alfre Woodard in the new series, the hypochondriac shut-in ironically lives in a house on the tip of a cliff, just above a lake full of leeches. Yeah, you’ll have to watch to get it.
4) “Dreary, Dreary” - from The Miserable Mill
Interestingly enough, much of this song refers to the mysterious woman Beatrice, to whom every book in the series is dedicated. “Gone, gone, my Beatrice / Gone the lips I longed to kiss,” Merritt drawls, sung from the point of view of a mourning Snicket, who has apparently lost his one true love. “Dreary, Dreary” is also an ode to the fourth book in the series, set at the dreary, sinister Lucky Smells Lumbermill as the Baudelaires’ trade in an appropriate guardian for manual labor. You know, like kids do.
For the full album, check out Spotify or go full old school and grab the CD like you would have in ’06.