Gimme Five: She

Most rock is made by a “he”, so “she” comes up a lot as a foil, some more blunt than others.  Here’s five of my favorite examples:

1. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, The Police

I know that funerals aren’t supposed to be entertaining, but I really love this song, and it is the soundtrack to a death of The Police, the best song on their first totally pop-sounding offering.  Even though the entire album marks a total departure from the power-trio sound  all the  previous albums benefited from, I always thought the piano part in “Everything…” really added to its overall vibe.  Little did I know that it added nothing but poison for the band; Sting asked Jean Roussel to play the piano part against the others’ wishes, and the demo, with Sting and the piano only, became the actual album track, making Copeland and Summers dub their parts in like studio musicians.  Oops.

The words “she” and “her” do their job without too much fretting, making sure the listener doesn’t accidentally think that every little thing all females do is magic, but just one in particular.  Phew!  By the time we get to the line, “I resolved to call her up”, you really get the sense that the speaker is a little untrustworthy in his narration.  Maybe “she” got wind of all that Tantric sex nonsense Sting practices(really, I love a ham sandwich, but I don’t want to eat one for five hours).

2. “She”, The Monkees

Yes, the soundtrack to another death, but this one was a mercy killing.  “She” is the first song on the dismissive album, More Of The Monkees.  Dismissed by the creative force of the band, Mike Nesmith, because More Of The Monkees was cobbled together without the band’s knowledge.  Dismissed by Don Kirshner, who was big-upping the team of writers he had collected for the album more than the actual band.  Dismissed by the powers of style by using a left-over photo for a JC Penny catalog shoot as the album cover.

The album isn’t half bad… it’s 7/12th bad.  But the five good tracks are Monkee standards, “She” being among them.  The Monkees wouldn’t do another album with Kirshner, which ended up being just fine.

You should know better than examine lyrics too closely when your fave rave is a pop star, but I can only imagine the angry mob of girls simultaneously listening to this opening track on the day of its release, mad at the imaginary “she” treating Mickey like dirt.  The speaker seems bewildered enough; “she” is a snob that treats him like garbage, but he wants and needs her, made evident by saying it over and over in the poorly-constructed bridge.  Oh well; at least Mickey Dolenz is saying it, and not Davy Jones.  And at least this post isn’t about “girl” instead of “she”; the held-out “girl” in the chorus of the More Of The Monkees stinker “Hold On Girl” is excruciating.

3. “Queen Bitch”, David Bowie

Oh God, I can remember the day that all of the gays in Fayetteville finally got around to referring to other guys as “her” and “she”.  The guys tending at “my” bar started it, saying things like, “she paid $200 for a God-damned t-shirt”, and “I told her, ‘look, queen’…”.  I was mortified.  I signed up for being gay, not being a girl.  I was into “he’s”, not “she’s”.  I had a beard, for Christ’s sake.

Of course, calling guys feminine pronouns had been going on for a long time before that in the gay community.  In “Queen Bitch”?  I honestly don’t know.  I’ve read the lyrics. I know that the song is a kinda-sorta nod to Lou Reed, whose proclivities certainly delve into the genderfucked.  Am I being nieve?  Moot point, really; this song rules, and the “she” works as a pejorative as well as for an honest-to-goodness lady.  This song gives me the added bonuses of always thinking of my grandpa when Bowie pulls out the 12-string(even though he would be aghast at the comparison) and thinking of this as Joey’s “go-to” song on Rock Band.  Get her.

4. “She”, Marianne Faithful

This song beat out another couple of tracks(an opportunity to expound on my budding KISS fascination, an opportunity to talk about how well Hall and Oates withstand the test of time, and an opportunity to go full-fucking blast on The Misfits) because I wanted to make a statement about influence.

I’ve recently read a post on another website that talked about being honest about influence.  Even though I believe it is important to be honest about your influences, the author seemed to get the idea of influence crossed with the idea of inspiration.  He claimed Mad Magazine and Motley Crue as influences, but went on to describe the effect they had on him as more inspirational than influential.  I had a subscription to Mad Magazine from the third grade to the seventh, and it was terribly inspiring, but I can’t claim it to be influential.  If I had to pick writing influences for this blog it would point, mainly because of the hyperbolic nature of the act of fandom, toward sports humorists.  The same goes for my other creative writing ventures; e.e. cummings and William S. Burroughs may be the most inspiring literary figures in my life, but Gerard Manly Hopkins and Tom Robbins were more influential.

So, to the point: Angelo Badalamenti is a huge influence for me, probably to the point of nausea to my former bandmates.

5. “Cortez The Killer”, Neil Young

The most brilliant use of “she” since Eve is “Cortez The Killer”– a six-minute buildup to the word itself.

First you have the sinister beginning of the song, full of sustained and overdriven notes from Young’s guitar measuring out the space between the sparse backing band, meandering past that golden mean point, giving a feeling of abandonment, that the lyrics will never come in.  And when they do come in, there is ample use of the pronouns “he” and “they”, building the story of Cortez and his invasion of the Aztec people.  The lyrical content stays a focused, historical narrative about Cortez and the Aztecs right up to the point that Neil Young says the word “she”: about six minutes into a seven minute song.

Young is a master of the subtle play of anachronism in his lyrics, from the spaceships of “Ride My Llama” and the Vonnegut-esque mashup of “After The Gold Rush” to Jesus with the troops in “Soldier”, and to be suddenly be brought into what feels to be present day during the shift in “Cortez The Killer”‘s lyrics would be surprising enough.  It is more striking, though, that the entire narrative of the Cortez/Aztec story becomes mere place setting for a lost love.  Suddenly the long, spacious chords in the beginning become a bit less sinister, a bit more forlorn.  Suddenly the horrible nature of Cortez and the greatness of the Aztec culture are diminished in the wake of a revelation of love.  And just to drive the emotion home, the song ends with the speaker using the pronoun “I”; ultimately the song becomes a testimony to how “he” made a mistake and lost “she”.

It’s powerful enough to me that in some forlorn moments I find myself singing along and replacing the “she” with “he”, just to feel connected to the emotional weight of love losses I’ve endured.  I couldn’t ask for a better job at making a person, identified by only a pronoun, matter thematically, regardless of gender.

Gimmie Five: 2013 Grammy-Nominated Albums

I normally slag on the Grammys around this time of year.  It’s always a well-deserved slagging.

The Grammys are usually the standard bearer of out-of-touchness, but in the two years I’ve been writing this blog the Grammy’s more compelling story lines actually played out to, according to my tastes, a victorious result.  When the nominees for 2013 came out, I was excited to see what match-ups might pit an underdog against a platinum-selling artist, or a genre-out-of-water race for one of the bigger awards… but not a lot of that this year.  Hardly anything worth getting worked up for at all.  Oh, I’ll still watch–something entertaining, or at least entertainingly disastrous, will happen.  Hopefully by/to Kanye West.

The match-ups suck, but there are some albums that I like that are nominated.  Not my two favorite ones(later…), but at least five good ones.  These five, in fact. Continue reading “Gimmie Five: 2013 Grammy-Nominated Albums”

Gimme Five: The Overwrought

A definition, if you will:

O-ver-wrought (oh-ver-rawt), adj.

1. extremely or excessively excited or agitated: to becomeoverwrought on hearing bad news; an overwrought personality.
 –
2. elaborated to excess; excessively complex or ornate: writtenin a florid, overwrought style.
 –
3. Archaic . wearied or exhausted by overwork.
It’s the old definition that best describes these songs.  Beautiful?  Sure.  Enough is enough, though.  And these songs have finally tipped the scales… Continue reading “Gimme Five: The Overwrought”

The Pirate George Advent Calendar: Day Thirteen – Gimme 5: British Christmas Traditions

(Note: this day is dedicated to John Sewell (the one in England.  I have two…), in thanks for letting me bug him about cultural topics.  And for not having me assassinated for calling him Johnny Seaweed.  Thanks, John, for great musical introductions, superfluous “u”‘s, and tolerance.  Happy Christmas.)

1. The Ashen Faggot

Yes, you can say it out loud; it’s a real thing.  Wassailers(think “drunk carolers”) carry around a bundle of sticks from an ash tree, which is ceremoniously tossed into the fire.  When one of the willow stems that bind the sticks burns and pops?  Drink!  Nothing says “Happy Birthday, Jesus” like fortified cider punch and fire. Continue reading “The Pirate George Advent Calendar: Day Thirteen – Gimme 5: British Christmas Traditions”

[UPDATE]Gimme Five: Girls Who Rock

I have known quite a few girls, and many of them did rock*.  Here are five, though, who effected my music tastes more than the others.  In their honor, I gave them a song that reminds me of their influence, and I asked them to give a guest editorial of the tune.  Not on the list?  Maybe I think you’re not a girl, but a lady. . . also, I pick five.  That’s my thing.  Even my porno website does “Gimme Five Or Less”.

Anyway, say “hello” to. . .  Continue reading “[UPDATE]Gimme Five: Girls Who Rock”

Gimme Five: Worst Orchestra Hits

You know what button this was on your Casio keyboard.  No, not the one that played the Rick Astley tune; that was the “Demo” button.  I’m talking about that string/synth abomination called “Orchestra Hit”.  If you don’t know what it is, think of it as a Ceti eel put in place by a MDMA-relaxed Freedom Williams.  If you don’t know what a Ceti eel is, or who Freedom Williams is, then you’re reading this post on your phone.  Just a guess.  Every orchestra hit is horrible.  Here are the worst. Continue reading “Gimme Five: Worst Orchestra Hits”

Gimme Five: Elvis And/Or Drugs

On August 16th, 1977, Elvis Presley passed away at the age of 42.  He died as he lived; high on prescription medication with an enlarged colon.  To my musical palette Elvis has become less of an easy target.  Maybe it’s time to lay off the drug-use jokes, too.  In an attempt to say “no hard feelings” to the Elvis estate, here are five of my favorites Elvis tracks, along with five personal run-ins with drugs.  Let’s rock!

Continue reading “Gimme Five: Elvis And/Or Drugs”

Gimme Five: Lakes

That’s right: lakes.  Ponds just weren’t rockin’ enough to make the cut.

1) Lake Of Dracula

 

There was a time in my life, roughly from 1994-2000, when I was both insulated from popular music and plugged into fantastic new music that could be referred to, gloriously, as unpopular.  Not just “unpopular” meaning “not on the radio” but “unpopular” as in “random people, upon listening, will most likely either question your taste in music or God’s sovereignty”(A prime example of my musical enviroment is that, in 1997, I bought Ok Computer a couple of weeks after it came out, a fantastic album, and was positively ridiculed by my friends).  The majority of this music came from two record companies: Gravity Records and SKIN GRAFT Records. It is difficult to separate a feeling of nostalgia from my love of these tunes, but they are still important parts of my catalog of albums, and, sonically, these albums remain on the fringe of what I’m currently digging. Continue reading “Gimme Five: Lakes”