Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet

Posted: February 27, 2011 in music, Record reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Godsmack, “Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” (2010)
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991)
The Godfathers, “Birth, School, Work, Death” (1988)

Today I’d like to bring to your attention a rather disturbing trend in the naming of songs and that is the assemblage of four consecutive nouns as the song’s name. The examples given above are the only ones I’m currently aware of, and while three data points spread over 22 years is very possibly not a trend you can never be too careful in these matters. Someone might have recorded a song called “Crosby; Stills; Nash; Young” and we’d never be the wiser.

What do these songs have in common? What are they trying to tell us? Let’s ask each of them to cough and give them a thorough examination.

Godsmack, “Love-Hate-Sex-Pain”
Theme: OMG! We’re all gonna die!

“Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” lurches into motion with the reflective “In this life I’m me/just sitting here alone,” which makes me think the boys should join Facebook, or maybe Adult Friend Finder. In the next 150 words they explain that love, hate, sex, and pain are “complicated.” These physical and emotional states are not just “lies,” they’re “underestimated lies,” which I believe means the final bill is going to be a lot higher than what we were told on the phone.

The members of Godsmack are also concerned that one of their moms is going to bury them. When I was a kid, I worried that my mom would step on me because of her poor peripheral vision, but apparently moms today have more options.

“It’s hard to say that I will be complete/before I die,” they wail. I guess if that happens, God will give you an incomplete. Won’t matter to you, though, because you’ll be dead.

“Love-Hate-Sex-Pain” is performed in the trademark Godsmackian manner, in which every sentence is a proclamation and every guitar is stuck in second gear.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”
Theme: Right now would be a good time to have sex.

No band with a bassist named Flea can ever be underestimated, and RHCP shows you why in this saga, in which they spend about a third of the song repeating the title in alternate lines and in different combinations: “Blood sugar crazy/She has it/Sex magik sex magik.” These repetitions, while they are not what literary experts term “good,” do have power, like Gregorian chants performed by monks with middle-ear problems.

The song eases us into its sexual theme with a line one of them wrote in the back of math class (“Kissing her virginity”), but before they’re done the Peppers’ vocabulary increases (“Glorious euphoria”) and their wordplay grows more playful (“Operatic by voice/A fanatic by choice”). Flea and friends “keep it on the soulside,” inviting their idealized female listener to “be my soul bride.” “Every woman/has a piece of Aphrodite,” they explain. That probably destroys her value as a collectible.

Of course, RHCP’s real moment in the sun was their cover of The Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster” from the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America soundtrack.

The Godfathers, “Birth, School, Work, Death”
Theme: Godsmack is a bunch of wankers.

Sometimes when a band gets together they become overly inebriated and don’t realize they’ve let in someone who knows how to write until all the papers have been signed and the liner notes to their first album have already been run off. So it is with The Godfathers, as you can see from the opening stanza of “Birth, School, Work, Death”:

Been turned around till I’m upside down
Been all at sea until I’ve drowned
And I’ve felt torture, I’ve felt pain
Just like that film with Michael Caine
I’ve been abused and I’ve been confused
And I’ve kissed Margaret Thatcher’s shoes
And I been high and I been low
And I don’t know where to go

Birth, school, work, death…

In eight sprightly lines this English post-punk band presents a new perspective on rock ’n’ roll’s original theme, alienation. While I admire this passage I admit that I have no clue which Michael Caine film is being referred to. I’m willing to bet it’s not Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. It’s probably not Zulu, either, in which Caine plays a character with the very attractive name of Gonville Bromhead. It’s also unlikely that Mr. Caine ever played Margaret Thatcher, except perhaps for a few close friends or that certain someone, but she does make the line scan nicely.

“Doesn’t matter what I say/Tomorrow’s still another day.” Are The Godfathers fatalists or do they believe in the eternal springing of hope? Turns out that it doesn’t matter: “I don’t need your sympathy/There’s nothing in this world for me,” the defiant Godfathers sing, while the music marches on as if the band has declared victory and can now go home.

More. Data. Points. Please.
If you know of a four-noun song, please write to this blog. We will never find the meaning behind this song-naming convention until we have more information. In the meantime, I’ll be right here at Run-DMSteve World HQ singing “Birth, school, work, death” and trying to avoid all four of them.

  1. Orin Schmitt says:

    You do have to admit, Birth, school, work, death is pretty clever.

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