Welcome to Wodensdæg and Song for Odin, and some minor secrets of the Mr T Experience song "Thank You (for not Being One of Them)". https://youtu.be/u9kvGnGK-w8 I had a different song at the top of my queue for this week's song post, but switched to this instead because of the recent discussion about calls to censor the Pogues song "Fairytale of New York" because the lyrics contain a certain word that we must now refer to as "the F word" apparently if we don't want our reference to and discussion of it to risk getting censored as well. This word also occurs in "Thank You (for Not Being One of Them)". And though this dumb little song clearly is not in anywhere near the same league as "Fairytale of New York" (which I consider to be a superbly conceived and constructed composition that borders on genius, of great literary depth and merit, in fact) one could easily perform the same sort of facile operation upon it, taking the line out of context and willfully misunderstanding it for whatever sort of propagandistic purpose one might have. And it has happened, though not often. Most people get it (it's really not that hard) and manage to grasp what the narrator of the song, and the writer of the narrator of the song, are trying to get across. But maybe if I was set up to host the Oscars or something it would get dug up and willfully misapprehended in grand Two Minutes of Hate fashion. I mean, obviously it would. Sometimes this kind of engineered communication breakdown is thought of in terms of the "use / mention dichotomy" which our contemporary culture does indeed seem unable to grasp, at least in the meme-fueled discourse that reduces everything to dueling simplistic slogans, and which seems to have become our primary means of communication. I've noted, in this regard, a cultural tendency (not to say desire) to fail to tell the difference between fiction and reality, and have echoed Shane MacGowan's point that the speech of literary characters is not always nice and edifying, and if we had to stick to nothing but sweet, uplifting respectable characters with warm and fuzzy socially useful meme-able slogans for dialog there would, effectively, be no more stories. However, the most striking thing about it to me is, these objections to depictions of disagreeable or objectionable matters in art often suffer from a much greater and weirder failure: I mean, the failure to recognize that these antagonists, the art and its would-be censor, are so often addressing the same topic, and often in at least something like the same spirit. Consistency would demand banning both the art and the criticism that argues for its suppression. And that can't be right. The narrator of "Thank You" clearly doesn't like being called an "F word." How can a character express that sentiment without actually referring to the thing he is objecting to? Beats me. We have turned ourselves into infants, at least when it comes to art. I clearly don't understand this world we currently live in. Anyway, though not all my songs are like this, that bit does reflect my "lived experience" -- I was called an "F word" pretty much every day of my life for my entire childhood, to the degree that I half-thought it might actually be my name. I suspect many of you reading this may have had a similar experience. This is an interesting topic (bullying, I mean.) Surely it's fair game for an essay, a novel, a song. Or maybe I'm just crazy. I'm really starting to believe I may well be. (Ironically, perhaps, the mindless public shaming that characterizes our discourse resembles nothing so much as the bullying dynamic referenced in this song, mean kids swarming a vulnerable target.) As for the song qua song, I spilled some "minor secrets" last year (before I'd systematized this whole minor secrets system) so allow to quote myself: "It took some doing to come up with an undone take on "us against the world" but I think this one does it. It was one of a handful of songs whose sensibility and narrative voice was appropriated for the King Dork books. If nothing else, its existence is justified by the lines: "you don't hesitate to exaggerate and say that it's okay" and "later that night we hold each other tight and plot their destruction", the latter of which I've seen as a tattoo at least once, along with the song title's acronym. (And yes, it is so an acronym rather than an "initialism": pronounced "TIFF-un-boot.") There was originally a third verse that looked toward a future of growing old together and cultivating an insular life of splendid isolation and loving misanthropy. I can no longer remember how it went, though it's written down somewhere no doubt, but "Population: Us" was in effect an elaboration on it." This peppy version isn't bad, and everyone seems to be having a good time. Anyway, to those of you who have stuck with me this far down, and have not reported me to the authorities for impious impropriety I say: thank you for not being one of them. You are an apparently shrinking demographic. (The song originally scheduled for today, btw, was "A Song about a Girl Who Went Shopping" -- possibly we'll do that next week if circumstances don't once again make a different one suddenly quasi-topical.) notes: -- studio recording: https://youtu.be/n2HikNNuo84 -- another live version, from 1998 https://youtu.be/YedwvMhsxKM -- use / mention distinction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use–mention_distinction -- The Pogues - "Fairytale of New York": https://youtu.be/j9jbdgZidu8 -- my post on "Fairytale of New York": https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/919288214285049856 #music #politics #censorship #songs #minds
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ADDED: oh there's a fifth one, now that I see the lyrics. I really really thought the line was "yeah you and me we made Fred Astaire, balling through the silver screen." I used to love that it referenced Fred Astaire along with John Wayne, even though it arguably sullied their memories, but now that I know it doesn't do that I feel a little diminished.
So I was thinking about that Dr Hook "Cover of the Radio Times" thing (where the BBC DJs effectively edited forbidden lyrics by yelling new ones over it in an impromptu "overdub") and I dug out the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup, thinking I'd do a Vinyl Collector write--up on it, because, famously the song "Star Star" (né "Starfucker") was heavily censored on the US vinyl release version. So I looked it up on YouTube and I learned four things I didn't know: (a) that it is possible now to hear the uncensored version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iudmMgbAAmI (b) that, for whatever reason, I vastly prefer the censored one! Probably it's mostly because it's the one I grew up with, but the sloppy, utterly confusing overdub of "pussy" and the sudden, clumsy reverb effect to obscure the name John Wayne are hilarious and rather charming. The recording seems a bit flat and featureless without them. I spent many many hours of my obviously misspent youth trying to figure out what they were saying and referring to with the line about fruit and Carly Simon's you-know-what, which I wouldn't have understood at the time and maybe still don't quite get. The best part, in a way, is that Steve McQueen remains crystal clear when he makes his entrance in the lyrics because he's the guy they got a written promise from not to sue them. (c) If there is a video of the censored version anywhere on YouTube, I couldn't find it! I'm an anti-censorship guy as you know, but as I prefer the censored mix, I'm glad I have the record, reversing the usual state of affairs. Kinda strange. (d) It's probably the greatest Rolling Stones song, certainly my favorite to listen to at this particular moment. ADDED: oh there's a fifth one, now that I see the lyrics. (e) I really really thought the line was "yeah you and me we made Fred Astaire, balling through the silver screen." I used to love that it referenced Fred Astaire along with John Wayne, even though it arguably sullied their memories, but now that I know it doesn't do that I feel a little diminished. #music #vinylcollector #rockandroll #sex? #minds
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More from frankportman

ADDED: oh there's a fifth one, now that I see the lyrics. I really really thought the line was "yeah you and me we made Fred Astaire, balling through the silver screen." I used to love that it referenced Fred Astaire along with John Wayne, even though it arguably sullied their memories, but now that I know it doesn't do that I feel a little diminished.
So I was thinking about that Dr Hook "Cover of the Radio Times" thing (where the BBC DJs effectively edited forbidden lyrics by yelling new ones over it in an impromptu "overdub") and I dug out the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup, thinking I'd do a Vinyl Collector write--up on it, because, famously the song "Star Star" (né "Starfucker") was heavily censored on the US vinyl release version. So I looked it up on YouTube and I learned four things I didn't know: (a) that it is possible now to hear the uncensored version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iudmMgbAAmI (b) that, for whatever reason, I vastly prefer the censored one! Probably it's mostly because it's the one I grew up with, but the sloppy, utterly confusing overdub of "pussy" and the sudden, clumsy reverb effect to obscure the name John Wayne are hilarious and rather charming. The recording seems a bit flat and featureless without them. I spent many many hours of my obviously misspent youth trying to figure out what they were saying and referring to with the line about fruit and Carly Simon's you-know-what, which I wouldn't have understood at the time and maybe still don't quite get. The best part, in a way, is that Steve McQueen remains crystal clear when he makes his entrance in the lyrics because he's the guy they got a written promise from not to sue them. (c) If there is a video of the censored version anywhere on YouTube, I couldn't find it! I'm an anti-censorship guy as you know, but as I prefer the censored mix, I'm glad I have the record, reversing the usual state of affairs. Kinda strange. (d) It's probably the greatest Rolling Stones song, certainly my favorite to listen to at this particular moment. ADDED: oh there's a fifth one, now that I see the lyrics. (e) I really really thought the line was "yeah you and me we made Fred Astaire, balling through the silver screen." I used to love that it referenced Fred Astaire along with John Wayne, even though it arguably sullied their memories, but now that I know it doesn't do that I feel a little diminished. #music #vinylcollector #rockandroll #sex? #minds
29 views ·