Feb 10, 2011

Great Songs, Horrible Message

10:33 AM

Musicians aren't known for their sound relationship advice. Rappers run trains. Rock stars bang underage girls. Country twangers get dumped, move to Mexico and live on "refried dreams." None of these actions are socially acceptable.

But give musicians one thing: They usually have pretty decent self-esteem. You may wrong them, but they call you out on your trifling ways in verse. And, hey, isn't good for us to soak up a little of that attitude and stand up for ourselves when we're getting played?

There are exceptions, however. Let's review two of the worst, shall we?

Jerry Butler - "Never Give You Up"

Jerry's got it bad for this girl, and he's determined to stick it out despite some suffering some pretty serious wrongs in the relationship. He puts it all out there in the first verse:

Girl, you treat me bad, and I know why
Yeah I've seen you runnin' around with that other guy
And you think if you hurt me that I'll go away
Made it up in my mind that I'm here to stay

Can you imagine Jerry calling you up and venting about this? "What's that you say, Jerry? She's treating you bad? That's a bummer, buddy. You caught her cheating on you, too? That bitch! And you think she's doing it for the sole purpose of forcing you to leave? Man, I hate it when people don't have the guts to just break up with a person they don't want to be with anymore. Oh well, there's other fish in th- YOU SAID WHAT? You'll never leave, even after all that?"

He continues:

Whisper in his ear
You tell him that Jerry said he'll never let you go

The guy that's having sex with your girlfriend/wife is either going to laugh at you or feel sorry for you when she whispers that in his ear, Jerry.

Don't you understand
What you're doing to the man?

When you get played like that, you don't get to call yourself "The Man" anymore, Jerry.

And finally:

Girl I'd rather die than to see you with somebody else

We've already been over this, Jerry. Your bluff holds no credibility.

The SOS Band - "Just Be Good to Me"

Mary Davis, the SOS Band's lead singer, didn't write this ode to turning a blind eye (that credit goes to the production duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), but if you sing the words, you're responsible for them.

Mary is a little slower to reveal her relationship issues than Jerry is. She starts off complaining about her nosy friends, who say she'll never lock her man down. But what do they know? Maybe it's a new relationship - there's plenty of time to talk commitment. It's not like he's out sleeping with a bunch of other girls, right?

People always talkin' 'bout
Your reputation
I don' care about your other girls
Just be good to me

Well, that's not good. Don't give the dude a green light to hump around! Then it just gets depressing:

And you, I won't try to change
We talk about it and I
Never had a piece of you
And to have all of nothing... (ooh ooh)

Here's where the guy needs to be wary. Anyone willing to put up with that kind of behavior is liable to go nuts. And Mary starts sounding all Fatal Attraction:

You may have many others
But I know when you're with me
You are all mine

That's almost cute. But later:

I'll give you love, I will smother you
I'll give you affection, I won't bother you

Sooo not buying that last line. Mary's gonna be all up in this guy's business. Showing up at his job. Sitting across the aisle from him at church. Renting the next-door apartment.

And then the true intent comes out:

I'm like a cherry pie, I will tie you down...
And we'll always be together, be together

Not sure how cherry pies tie people down (food coma?), but it's the ends that matter here, not the means. That last line is straight Gary Busey, last scene in Hider in the House, gunshot through his and Mimi Rogers' heads so they can be together in the afterlife.

(Haven't seen Hider? Sorry, it's not on Netflix, or even region 1 DVD for that matter. But some weirdo uploaded it in seven parts to YouTube. Here's the scene referenced above.)

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