How Would I Know That This Could Be My Fate

Trigger warning: I talk about suicide in this. And to anyone reading this who knows me and thinks they should worry about me — I’m fine. Really. 

From the Euphoria Morning album artwork. 1999.

I was sad when I heard that David Bowie died. I felt blind-sided when Prince died. It just is sad when people who make music and art that reaches a lot of people die, because collectively we lose something that made existence better.

Thursday, when I heard that Chris Cornell died I felt my stomach drop, but when I found out that it was a suicide, something inside of me broke.

Obviously I didn’t know Cornell. I have no idea what he was like as a person. But I’ve loved his music since I was young. Superunknown and Down on the Upside are two of the most formidable albums for my emotional development, and I continued to follow Cornell’s career, even through Audioslave. I was listening to Euphoria Morning just last week (I still had it on cassette).

But this isn’t about his musical impact. It’s about what I got out of his words.

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Inside Your Showroom Doors

I had the unfortunate occurrence of seeing Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” video while at the gym the other day. I’d post a clip of it, but I can’t bring myself to.

The chorus of this “song” is as follows:
“Come here, rude boy, boy, can you get it up?
Come here, rude boy, boy, is you big enough?
Take it, take it, baby, baby, take it, take it, love me, love me”

It gets more blatant.

Now, I have no problem with vulgarity, that’s not my issue with this lyrical atrocity. My problem is that it’s just not interesting. It doesn’t challenge the listener. It doesn’t evoke any type of feeling, except maybe for the delusional souls who think they have a chance at sleeping with Rihanna. Not to mention it’s not musically redeeming, either.

Now, I’m not saying that any of the songs I am going to mention are wonderful examples of brilliant songwriting,[1] but I’m just saying that at least there is some attempt at metaphor. Not to mention melody.

“You got the peaches I got the cream
Sweet to taste saccharine”
~ “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

“Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite”
~ “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band

And, in the slightly more subtle department:

“If she’s put together fine
And she’s readin’ my mind
I can’t stop, I can’t stop myself
Lightning is striking again”
~ “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie

Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” is possibly the most innuendo laden song I’ve ever heard:

“I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name
Oh let me be your sledgehammer
This will be my testimony
Show me round your fruitcage
Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruitcage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be”

And then, there’s Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin’s entire discography is about sex. Really, if it’s not about LOTR,[2] it’s about sex. Here’s the tip of the iceberg in “Trampled Underfoot”:

“Trouble-free transmission, helps your oil’s flow
Mama, let me pump your gas, mama, let me do it all

Dig that heavy metal, underneath your hood
Baby, I could work all night, believe I’ve got the perfect tools”[3]

On second thought, maybe bad metaphor isn’t really any better than no metaphor.


[1]Peter Gabriel being the obvious exception.
[2]That’s Lord of the Rings, for you unenlightened folks.
[3]Also, the song from which this entry title comes.