Moby — What does my heart feel so bad? Story behind the little idiot character

It’s probable that if you ask anyone what the first Moby video that comes into their head is — there’s a 98% chance they’ll say Why does my heart feel so bad? made by three graduates of the Royal College of Art in London. Ten years earlier, Moby had moved to New York to learn about what was going on in the dance culture and, five years earlier than that, Moby had spent nights performing hardcore punk in a self-made band. During the day, he sold records in a shop called ‘Johnny’ located in a real countercultural centre of a picturesque town in the North of the US. “I started drawing cartoon characters in the mid 80s when I worked in an underground record store. Every bag that left the store had a drawing on it, and one of my jobs was to draw the cartoons on the bags. And since then the little cartoon characters have just taken on lives of their own.” Moby named the main character, a lonely and abandoned person, Little Idiot.

In fact, during this hard decade full of ups and downs, drawing gave him support and succour and, after the global triumph, it reminded him of his origins and of the passing glory of the world. Moby released a CD called Little Idiot and created a publishing company with the same name, and later he founded a label to release the music of his friends. What else to say: he signed his albums and posters with drawings of little figures of men. “The Little Idiot is just a simple, humble little caricature of myself as a space alien bug” explains the author. And this is why when he needed to illustrate this sad single (by the way, the original gospel says why does my soul feel so glad but Moby changed it), the protagonist from the sleeve of Bring back my happiness made in 1995 came into play. It also formed the rest of the style of the video. The result was a work that received a bunch of awards, probably Moby’s most famous single in mass culture and a defining example of hopelessness and incomprehensibility. After this, listening to his break albums, hardcore and techno from the early underground gives many people a cognitive dissonance.