Saturday, 17 May 2008

Two Pop Songs That Annoy Me Due to One Lyric in Each

Hearing two particular pop songs two days ago, very close to each other while driving in southern England reminded me how much they irk me. I had forgotten about both of them. The reason why each of them irritates me differs greatly but they both riled me and hearing them so soon one after the other led me to turn my radio off. Let me explain. The two songs were 'One of Us' by Joan Osborne (1995) and 'Little Red Corvette' by Prince (1983).

Now, I imagine the Osborne song was quite controversial because it likens God to a slob. It is also pretty dreary anyway. Neither of these things are what irritate me. It is the lines 'seeing meant that you had to believe in things like Heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?'. Of course meeting God does not mean you have to believe in any of those other things. One may accept that God can only live in Heaven, but people were believing in God before Jesus even turned up. Muslims believe in God and accept Jesus as one of the prophets but not God's son, so they believe in him but not the way Osborne implies it. Jews also believe in God but most of them do not believe Jesus was his son either, though they accept he was alive. As for the saints many Protestants do not believe in them or that they were anything more special than good people. Few people have much problem with the prophets. However, Osborne's implication is that you have to accept this whole, pretty much Roman Catholic package or nothing at all. This is reinforced by the final line about ''cept for the Pope in Rome'. That both implies that the Pope has a particular connection to God lacking for other Christian leaders and he is the only one who tries to get in touch with God. Of course millions of Christians, Jews and Muslims communicate with God daily, the Pope certainly has no monopoly on this. I have no problem with Roman Catholics, but I was irritated by this song which raised the question of meeting God in such a one-dimensional way, assuming all the listeners are Roman Catholic (even though the USA where Osborne is from is predominantly Protestant) and these issues could not be addressed by people of other denominations or by non-Christians.

The lyrics:

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home?
If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see if, seeing meant
That you would have to believe in things like Heaven
And in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets?


Back up to Heaven all alone
No, nobody calling on the phone
No, just tryin' to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
'Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

From one extreme to the other. I have no problem with 'Little Red Corvette' being an analogy for a woman's genitals, whether it is her vulva, clitoris or whatever. Likening cars and driving them to sexual activity is fine. There are also horse racing analogies too. The story of the song is interesting about a man feeling uncertain about having sexual relations with a clearly promiscuous woman who flaunts how many sexual partners she has had and is even taunting of the narrator 'Baby have you got enough gas?'. Given Prince's very sexual identity it is interesting that this song which is credited with breaking him through into the big time is about a man plagued with uncertainty in a sexual situation and about a woman who is clearly far more confident, assertive, even in this context. The narrator is warning the woman, not so much about the dangers of risky sex, it is clear she uses condoms (Trojans) so this is not like 'Sign o' the Times' (1987) with 'a big disease with a little name', it seems to be more a warning about the emotional impact of continued promiscuity. Anyway, all that aside the one line in this song which makes me want to vomit is 'you had a pocket full of horses, Trojan, and some of them used'. Now what woman even a promiscuous one carries around used condoms? If any of us encountered a woman like that you would have major doubts about her. What was she doing, keeping them as trophies? She already has photographs of her conquests. Is she trying to collect sperm samples? Clearly she does not want to get pregnant otherwise she would get her sexual partners to use condoms. This woman is clearly seriously screwed up. The main thing it reminded me of was an elderly gay man I encountered in East London in the late 1990s who used to go around Victoria Park collecting used condoms apparently for some vicarious pleasure at this evidence of sex because his days of such activity seemed to be over. Well, that would hardly apply to the woman in this song who is clearly getting more than enough sex. So my advice to the narrator would be 'walk away, this woman is not simply promiscuous, she is screwed up and that is a real risk'. Due to that line this is actually a very unnerving song.

The lyrics:

I guess I shoulda known by the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn't last
See you're the kinda person that believes in makin' out once
Love 'em and leave 'em fast
I guess I must be dumb
'Cuz you had a pocket full of horses
Trojan and some of them used
But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right
And you say what have I got to lose?
And honey I say

Little red corvette
Baby you're much too fast
Little red corvette
You need a love that's gonna last

I guess I shoulda closed my eyes
When you drove me to the place where your horses run free
'Cuz I felt a little ill
When I saw all the pictures
Of the jockeys that were there before me
Believe it or notI started to worry
I wondered if I had enough class
But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right
And you say, "Baby, have you got enough gas?"
Oh yeah

Little red corvette
Baby you're much too fast, yes your Little red corvette
You need to find a love that's gonna last, oh-oh

A body like yours
Oughta be in jail
'Cuz it's on the verge of bein' obscene
Move over baby, gimme the keys
I'm gonna try to tame your little red love machine

Little red corvette
Baby you're much to fast
Little red corvette
You need to find a love that's gonna last
Little red corvette
Honey you got to slow down
Little red corvette'
Cuz if you don't your gonna run little red corvette right in the ground
Honey you got to slow down
You, you, you got to slow down
You're movin' much to fast
You need to find a love that's gonna last

Girl, you got an ass like I never seen
And the ride... I say the ride is so smooth
you must be a limousine

Baby you're much too fast
Little red corvette
You need a love,
You need a love that's, that's gonna last, oh oh
You got to slow down
Little red corvette
'Cuz if you don't, 'cuz if you don't,
You gonna run your body right into the ground
Right into the ground
Right into the ground
Little red corvette, baby, oh

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