|The Rolling Stones – Memo From Turner Lyrics||2 years ago|
It was made in 1968, but release was delayed until 1970 by movie execs shocked and concerned about how the public would react to this graphic essay in sex, drugs, rock and roll and violence, Complicating matters, throughout the 1969 US tour, the Stones had become a magnet for the tabloid press culminating in the Altamont speedway incident in December 1969.
There's never really a good time to release a film like Performance. It is a film about identity, what we choose to show, what’s behind the masks we wear and what happens when we lose control. Mick as Turner shows the ways in which it can be exploited in both directions.
(the song video music track, as I understand, features Jagger, Ry Cooder on slide guitar, Russ Titelman (guitar), Randy Newman (piano), Jerry Scheff (bass) and Gene Parsons (drums) The best version of it, in my opinion, appears on the Stones' "London Years" retrospective. It may be one of the most amazing things ever recorded)
We are seeing Turner after he has "traded places" with an underworld mobster. In the context of the film, Turner is an aging rockstar, whose lifestyle was consumed by excess and he is attracted to the idea of playing the part of a mobster, who has far more prosaic reasons to need to disappear into another identity; that of an aging rockstar hermit in hiding from the press. Mick's clean cut, suit-wearing Turner now realizes that the underworld of crime, like politics and show business, is populated with people very much like him, except his awareness of their secret backgrounds and his willingness to use it as a means of control gives him incredible power, out of the reach of anybody who has anything to hide.
Remember, this film was shot in 1968, not long after the release of Sgt Pepper's, and it was that world Mick had in mind. Where at a club like "Sammies", while "eating eggs" one might see underworld figures, politicians, actors, musicians and even perhaps, Brian Epstein, rubbing shoulders.
Turner surveys his new cohort, and one by one confronts them with his knowledge of their past. The second stanza refers to Rampton, a psychiatric hospital, where Turner is apparently aware the man in front of him was once a patient who killed a doctor. In those days, the field of psychiatry in England was bigotedly referred by the underclass to as a "Jewish" profession and the reference to "sleeveless shirt" carries double meaning as both a straitjacket and the actual sleeveless shirt worn on sabbath by orthodox observers of the Jewish faith.
"Come now, Gentlemen..." He mocks the straight laced and upstanding members of society they have apparently become. He snarls in to the climactic "set your business STRAIGHT", sarcastically suggesting they have covered their own homosexuality and violent deviance into normal and straight looking executive "skins".
He confronts the smaller sticked man from Hemlock Road, a reference to a rest stop location on the road from London to Oxford notorious for casual encounters. Hemlock Road also doubles for a reference to Socrates, whose refusal to deny his sexual identity led to suicide by Hemlock, and also the historical relationship of academia with homosexuality in a general sense.
From here, I think the poster MikeyMike111's comments are right on point, and rather than paraphrase, I'll quote:
"The dominant theme is, of course, one of homosexuality. I think it may be the first time in popular culture where gayness is linked not with effeminacy but with an overt masculine sexuality. For examply the same year that Performance was released The Boys in the Band showed us a selection of campy self-hating drama queens. Also the line "the young girls eat their mother's meat from tubes of plasticon" is the kind of queasily sexual/violent image you'd find in William Burroughs. Also, just remembered that there is indeed a Burrough's book called The Soft Machine.
I suppose the song, and the film Performance, were informed at some level by the fact of Reggie Kray's sexuality and the fact that an incredibly masculine (in fact psychotic) man could be gay."
The only think I really can add to that is the theme transcends homosexuality in important ways in addition to those accurate points. Consider this stanza:
Be wary of these my gentle friends
Of all the skins you breed
They have a tasty habit
They eat the hands that bleed
Turner expresses a total ambivalence as to whatever their deviance does: Sex, Drugs, Violence. He doesn't care, won't judge, and will in fact participate if it's "wrong" enough. Turner will make you take your clothes off and have sex with him just to assert his dominance, and create something that can be used to control you. He tells them "Just make a face and an identity where the need to gratify your urges can't also be your undoing if you are exposed." Ironically, being a rock star, where deviance is in fact expected of a public personality, would be a better cover for these "misbred grey executives."
My main point is that Turner's moral ambivalence goes far beyond any simple "it's about gay" interpretation, and extends to all forms of social identities as somehow being crude coverings for the dark primal secrets we all keep inside. The urges are not just sexual. I don't want to freak you guys out but I'll leave you with this: the "Rosie" and "Baby's Dead" lines in the last stanza refer to book Rosemary's Baby (movie also made in '68). Yeah. So if Rosemary's baby is dead and they all work for him, who is he? Yep. Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste...
|Beck – Broken Train Lyrics||2 years ago|
Beck has developed an internal vocabulary to his work, and he invites us to experience the whole song, not just the lyrics. I think this song is a major statement of Beck's beliefs, and an example of a completely successful song, one of his best, and among his most political. It's over 15 years old now, and I daresay our situation has actually declined, and if he ever sequeled the song, I believe pt.II would sound much darker.
The snipers are passed out in the bushes in a society where even the government agents of control don't even give a shit about professionalism. The riots must be a common event at this point, so Beck notes his advantage at having his suits cleaned, expressing the same blase indifference to current affairs or social conflict.
Within this world, we are presented with mechanical metaphors and the sounds of urban inertia and labor in the music itself. The broken train is the Orwellian dystopia that Beck suggests is already here, close by, or coming soon. It is world of contrast between rich and poor, billionaires and breadlines, crystal tiaras and grey rivieras, etc.
The song opens with an intoxicating rhythm recalling for me Working In The Coal Mine, by Alan Toussaint, a song about the sufferings of a working class man too exhausted to able to enjoy his free time. Devo covered the song in '81, their electronic style finding the same pick on stone drum beat a versatile carrier for their social commentary as well.
A synthesizer overlay has a twilight zone feel, suggesting to us we are entering a different world much in the way the wavy effect recalls a flashback memory in visual terms. As the whole thing just maintains it's perfect synch inexorably marching forward, what sounds to me like a baritone sax, comes in with a G, doubling down on the synths ascending triad, then a defeatist whaaaaaaah: a crass response to the ethereal synth. To me it sounds like a truck hitting its horn and downshifting while stuck in traffic. The background din surrounds us with the clinking of construction. Hold On! I don't know if I want to ride your train Beck!
Beck gives us a wink, In this song the voice of the speaker is that of an intelligence "advisor" to a client state in the midst of adopting US methods of societal control and repression. It is a post Orwellian fascist client state which trades exploitation of their subjects and country's resources, for political backing and financial military aid. Dollar Diplomacy. It suggests the apathy of a society that is overwhelmingly "have not", controlled by a minority of "haves." "Cause there's only rehashed faces on the bread line tonight Soon you'll be a figment of some infamous life" suggests that there is no real rehabilitation in this society, only the purgatory of death row by apparent free will for those who fail to conform.
Billionaires smile like weapons passing out platinum pensions They're out of control No one know how low they'll go is self explanatory. Beck is looking back at his own "controllers". military and intelligence bigwigs peddling aid packages to countries and corporations with which they will buy weapons and self-enrich themselves, while using the weapons to enforce the police state that maintains their power over an enslaved populace.
Beck invites us to take a ride on this train. "What are you suggesting, Mr. Beck? Right here in the US? OMG. Are we that apathetic to ever allow that? That harmonica reminds me of a hobo music from the economically ravaged south and west of the dust bowl and great depression.
The next stanza is somewhat difficult, but IMHO: These bra burning deportees At the service station They know that beige Is the color of resignation.
This is a society that exiles any social activists that confront issues of gender equality. In a functioning democracy, the parts contribute like a mosaic of separateness and dissent. In this society women's issues have to do with breeding. Beige is what you get when you blend Black, White, Red and Yellow, and turn it into an institutional monochrome. I think this reading really calls attention to what Beck may be referring to as a service station. Allow feminism, but insofar it doesn't interfere with their purpose of breeding: producing the beige uniconsumers of the future in their womb factories. Wanna burn your bra (i.e.: advocate feminism or homosexuality and express you freedom of speech or non-violent protest)? GTFO. Deportee.
The last stanza has to do with the ease with which people of subsistence means can be exploited to gratify their oppressors' appetites. He is so blase that he comes right out and blows his own cover, knowing they don't care, nor is there any possibility of any counterintelligence threat. He is only trolling, hoping some girl might find it exciting enough to throw him a lay. After all, what is he there for anyway? Isn't he a cowboy? Sound's better than shepherd.
Zip code is another one of those metaphors linking economic and social codes with geographic zones like ghettos, and calling attention to the many and various ironies and contradictions that the extreme inequity of the society imposes through stereotyping and environmental racism.
|Steely Dan – Rikki Don't Lose That Number Lyrics||4 years ago|
Rikki Ducornet may believe that Fagen wrote it to her, but Fagen denies/ won't confirm, and frankly it makes little sense.
"I have a friend in town (with a reference to Clapton in the next line)- He's heard your name"
Now I've been to Annandale, and the idea that somebody famous or otherwise could be in town that had heard the name of a Bard professor's knocked up/ shotgun wed daughter in 1968/69 is just ridiculous.
Town obviously refers to NYC, where Becker and were after Bard from June 1969. From Becker and Fagen's writings about the sheer desperation of their early years, they wouldn't have held back on a potential commercial success, and thus it's hard to believe that they would sit on this song while releasing "Can't buy a Thrill" and "Countdown to Ecstasy". So it was likely written in 1973 in the form that was recorded on "Pretzel Logic" and the song likely refers to experiences that likely took place in 1971 or 1972.
Rikki D had been living in France for almost 4 years when RDLTN was released. The only reference to Rikki D being THE Rikki comes from Rikki D in an Entertainment Tonight segment. At a time when she just divorced, moved back to the states and started a writing/teaching career. In other words, she had a motive and a convenient background story, to use her old friend's fame to give her a boost. Fagen was probably like: "yeah, whatever"....
It's time to let this go as a dead end meaning for this song.
Also, the underlying theme of the gay seduction of a straight guy is just so there and in your face that it's really hard to imagine this written in a hetero context. Maybe it's me but I just can't hear the song and not pick up on it.
I'm already on record- the song is to Rick Nelson, written in 1972.
|Steely Dan – Rikki Don't Lose That Number Lyrics||4 years ago|
I feel this song is written to Rick Nelson in the wake of the "Garden Party" fiasco. "we hear you're leaving, that's ok" Rick had come to New York, where Fagen and Becker were still just starting out and Fagen was part of the drug culture that was the scene at the time. The garden party saw Rick N debut a new style, a departure from his previous pop confections, and he was booed off the stage (or so he thought- look it up).
He walked off the stage in the middle of his set, and withdrew from public life for two years, until he came out with his song- Garden Party- where he relates his feelings about the incident succinctly: "you can't please everyone, so ya got please yourself"
Fagen thinks Nelson (who he's got a mancrush on), will leave the music scene forever. He will never be able to finish making his play for Rick. The number is Fagen's phone number. I have a friend into town refers to Eric Clapton. We can go driving on slowhand road means we can get together and Jam with Eric and maybe work on developing a newer sound in the studio at CBS. If you have a change of heart means, if you decide to come back to music and the scene, etc.
|Oasis – Wonderwall Lyrics||4 years ago|
Wonderwall is one of Noel Gallagher’s most important and personal songs, and his evasiveness over the years in explaining it (the right of any artist, imho), exposes the song to a lot of interpretations. Despite what he said, Noel did indeed write this song to a real person: Paul McCartney, but it was the friendship at that point in his life that was imaginary, not the person. The film “Wonderwall”, which I will discuss shortly, gave him the pretext at a superficial meaning of speaking about Meg, his wife at the time. But the only way you could conclude it was written to her is if you didn’t understand what “wonderwall” really means, or the context of Oasis in ’93 being heralded as the next Beatles, or Noel being placed in the Paul McCartney typecast alongside Liam cast as Lennon. The song was written prior to Noel and Paul becoming well acquainted and having a real relationship, as happened throughout the mid-late 1990’s. At this early stage Paul was Noel’s wonderwall in fantasy and he sensed that Paul’s experience with fame and Lennon and the conflicts and ennui that played out served as a model for the identity crisis that he was facing after the hugely successful Definitely Maybe album and the stormy relationship with Liam in his own life.
The Movie, “Wonderwall” (1968) is about an aging, absent-minded biologist named Collins who has spent a lifetime peering through the small aperture of a microscope. Then, a young model named Penny Lane moves in next door. One night he sees a ray of light coming from the wall in his darkened flat and discovers a peephole into which he can observe Penny’s apartment. Peering through this aperture opens a completely fantastic and alien world of sex, drugs, psychedelia, and of course Penny naked. Collins gradually withdraws further and further into the wonderwall; or perhaps with a different perspective, allows his mind to expand into this new universe untethered by “ego” or “reality”. As he begins to drill more peepholes, and his observations become increasingly more fantastic and psychedelic. The act of observing another life unobserved by the subject (similar to the relationship of artists to their fans) has become transformational- it’s not really just about his love interest in Penny anymore- the wonderwall opens up an entirely new reality where none of the banality or limitation of actual life applies.
Noel’s wonderwall is music, and his Penny Lane is Paul McCartney. He has spent his whole life peering into the light coming through the aperture of media- his observations of his hero living a public life. Through music Noel is having an imaginary dialogue with Paul. The relationship of the speakers is that of mentor/role model and student. Noel is struggling internally with the idea that songwriting and performance has nothing to do with artistic authenticity- it’s just acting and burlesque to the Collins’ of the world- the word on the street. Noel wishes Paul would respond to criticism of his later work by producing new great material but that's a bit ironic if satisfying the masses means being inauthentic to one's artistic self.
(There is also another subtext I've heard that Noel may believe that Paul is actually William Campbell, and that it's time to come clean about it, but that's another thing entirely, and if true, it still fits with the song as laid out here. I don't really have a comment on PID theories)
Noel is living in both worlds right at the time of the songwriting: like Collins did at his wonderwall- and Noel feels himself being drawn into the same vortex of alternate reality now that he has been crowned “the next Paul”, and he’s scared he’ll follow Paul’s road. He’s met the real Paul, and so he has to square his fantasy version to a new reality- one which ultimately will help him define his own artistic identity. But the dialogue from Noel's perspective is still internal- the Paul inside his head is not the real Paul.
The dialogue’s subtext is that of disenchantment. You can almost hear Noel saying “Paul, you’re the greatest singer songwriter of the 20th century and it’s been 25 years since you put out a decent album. Buck up man, because people are saying you’re soft, and I’m afraid if I follow your steps I’ll get the same. But ultimately if it’s a road I must follow, maybe by continuing to place my faith I’ll ultimately save myself from what happened to you and John. If I go off the path now, I’m lost: since everything I am, I learned from you peering through the Wonderwall.
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