Posts from 7th January 2003

Jan 03

The 6ths-Heaven in A Black Leather Jacket

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Wasps Nest by the 6ths- Stephin Merritts other band- is a dress rehearsal for the 69 love songs. It doesn’t move through genres and literary devices with his opuses whirl wind speed or ease- sticking to the campy, faggy indie pop, it does have the same themes though and shows a heart breaking romanticism-because what is cynicism but a scab over a broken heart ?
In, Heaven in A Black Leather Jacket, a wife leaves on Sunday (by a train) and the husband looks for tricks by the docks-but it’s sung with the p.o.v of a trick- and what the boy desires is not to be fucked but to ‘be kissed in the Hollywood rain’- this song is the ultimate Stephin Meritt love song-it has a sense of ambiguity, a desire to be kissed which has more intimacy then fucking, a love of place (this time Hollywood)- and the finding that special someone.
Also by comparing those kisses to being ‘hit by a hurricane’ and by describing his paramour as wearing a black leather jacket he alludes to the bdsm of teen pop queens like the Shirelles and The Shangri Las.
Finally there is the rhyming of train and rain-which seems banal but ties textually the desire of the wife with the desires of the husband, and allows a sense of sexual ambiguity-he loves his wife and rumpy pumpys with boys on the dock, and its ok-he will take what he can get.
In three minutes he has made a love song, talked about gender poltics, made Hollywood seem romantic again, and given the listener a history of pop music, remarkable really.

GOOD CHARLOTTE — ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’

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Far be it from me to bitch about Good Charlotte selling the ideals & crusty tenants of punk rock to the strip malls and outlet stores of suburbia. I’m all for young, upwardly mobile punks using the system to their advantage. Get yourselves on the MTV pushing the ‘new’ rock music. Drop your name like a ton of bricks every single night. Drill your Charlie-Sheen-in-Ferris-Bueller good looks (cough) into the brain of every single grumpy teenager in America — that is, every single grumpy teenager in America watching MTV at 11 PM on school nights. (Maybe if they stole some beers from Dad’s stash and copped a feel or two, they’d be less grumpy — yeah, fuck the system AND the anti-system system, too!) If one desires to move some merch off the crowded shelves at your local Best Buy store during the Christmas shopping season, that’s probably the best way to do it. So far, so good – one platinum record and counting. But, like I said, that’s not what’s chafing my dish.

No, I’m going to get on these huggable, snuggable reprobates for bitching about the rich & famous bitching about being rich & famous. It’s kind of cute that they don’t get the joke – like, duh, you didn’t sign to a major label for the cred factor, did you? Regardless of how dopey one is, you can’t blithely ignore nearly 80 years of popular music by claiming (in a contrapositive fashion) that money can be exchanged for happiness and contentment and other non-tenderable services. Alas, in the world of Good Charlotte (which just happens to be the world at large), because a small sect of people have oodles of moolah and 10,000,000 fans and gold lame suits up the yin-yang, they should smile and wave and be happy twenty-four seven. Starving kids in China yadda yadda yadda, so just shaddap and eat your spinach. Well, you know, spinach isn’t all that tasty – if those aforementioned grumps just flipped on the set an hour or two earlier, they would probably catch one of a handful of shows depicting just how hard it is to be rich and famous. By the way, sticking it to Marion Barry really hits those bourgeois bastards right where it hurts — look out Billy Joel, looks like some folks are looking to have themselves a wee little protest. Don’t forget the toilet paper this time, boys.

Given the little wink-wink flourishes that accentuate the song (which, with verse vocals turned down / totally ignored, is pretty OK, in a Blink-182-meets-rhythm way), you’d think the group would know of, say, a couple HUNDRED songs that succinctly nip those misplaced Robin Hood ideals in the proverbial tuck — OK, maybe they just know a couple hundred Cake songs. (As if they didn’t steal that ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum pre-chorus drum flourish from ‘The Distance’.) Even if you’re going to shiny-happy your way through a wrong-headed anti-establishment anthem, you have to know a little bit about your forefathers and their struggles. Call me crotchety, but I’d like to think that the inspiration for the beat came from a well-worn vinyl copy of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and not a Carnival Cruises commercial.

Word of advice — when the post-Pump Aerosmith gives the eat-the-rich wheel a spin 10 years before you get around to placing your bet, just cash out.