Napoleon XIV – Let’s Cuddle Up in My Security Blanket

Napoleon XIV is really only known for his 1966 novelty hit They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! An album with the same name followed, filled with songs about mental health issues. The style of the songs is quirky, which makes them somewhat humorous despite the serious topics. The approach is unusual. I remember hearing the hit song as a child and thought it was funny, but as an adult who knows about the suffering people go through, it is difficult to hear the comedic aspect; the artificial strangeness becomes reminiscent of how someone with deep-seated issues sounds unusual when they try to put on a happy face. It is not the same, of course, when done for comic effect, but an adult recognizes that the issues are real, and it’s hard to laugh knowing it.

Let’s Cuddle Up in My Security Blanket is one of the songs that sounds almost normal. It is a plead to stay together even for a moment, hiding from the world. The song is fascinating because if the presence of a security blanket wasn’t mentioned, this could be an ordinary love song. A baby may need a comfort object to fall asleep, but an adult singing about it reveals neuroticism and an obsession. And yet despite the security blanket the song is all about the longing to be loved, to feel safe in a world that seems hostile.

Thus the security blanket in the song sticks out like a sore thumb. It is the only strange aspect of the lyric, and yet it changes the meaning completely. Since the addition of only one element can make the song appear to be about insecurity and obsession, what does that tell about how we perceive love in general? Especially in the early stages of a relationship the feeling may be exactly the same, only the blanket under which the lovers cuddle up is not thought of as a comfort object. Instead, the lovers treat each other as comfort objects, while still wrapped up in a blanket.

There’s also this feeling of camaraderie: “Why should we care if others conform?”. It is mostly an illusion. Just like everyone is from their own viewpoint basically a good person, or at least sees their actions justified, and evil is always somewhere else, conformity is mostly seen to exist outside of ourselves. We are merely individuals forming a secret society of two lovers. We are different, therefore we must be together. Just like every other couple that exists.

This instability in the lyrics is what raises it above ordinary love songs. You’re forced to wonder where the line is drawn between healthy and unhealthy behaviour, since anyone can recognize the yearning for safety, and the presence of the blanket seems like such a small thing compared to that very human need of intimacy and love.

The song itself doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s about romantic love. When I had a cat and she’d meow for some mysterious reason, I sometimes sang to her the opening line “What’s wrong my pet, you seem so upset, tell me what’s bothering you”. And it does fit the song to think of the “pet” label to be literal. The song is about such a basic need that it goes beyond romantic love. It is also love for pets, or love in parenthood.

Yet it is mostly in the context of a new relationship that adults are allowed to indulge in such primal longing. And why state “are allowed” in the passive? Because there usually isn’t anyone saying that it is not allowed, only ourselves, after having grown into a conception of what adults must not do, not feel. And the question the song poses about whether one should conform could be just about that: the beginning of a relationship is a moment when one can see through the need to be an adult. Conformity may simply be the ideas we grow into when trying to define ourselves as adults by ignoring some longing or a need. And in that sense it is indeed significant to ask why we should care about what other people think about our adulthood. Let’s just be safe, snuggle up so cozy and warm. Whether a blanket is deemed necessary or not.