So this morning, on the way to work, the song Brass in Pocket was on the radio. And I don’t have anything in particular against Chrissie Hynde or The Pretenders, per se? But I was listening to some of the lyrics, and they’re kind of worrisome. Even for an 80s song.
From what I can tell (and I might be wrong, and it might have some sort of deep meaning, I don’t know) the song seems to be about the singer trying to convince the person she’s singing to that she’s “special.”
The way she’s going about this would, most definitely, convince the person that she is, indeed, “special” – but not the kind of special I think she’s going for.
The way she goes about making the person notice her special-ness:
“Gonna use my arms, gonna use my legs, gonna use my style, gonna use my sidestep, gonna use my fingers, gonna use my imagination.”
Um. OK, so is she dancing? Dancing to get his attention? Get yourself a good mental picture of this woman. The guy isn’t paying her any heed. All of a sudden, she starts flailing her arms around. Then her legs. Then using her “style” somehow – I don’tknow, catwalking, maybe? Then her SIDESTEP. This is my favorite. Her sidestep. I just think of this guy sitting on a couch at a party, chatting with a normal girl or something, and a girl (who, in my mind, looks like Dawn Weiner from Welcome to the Dollhouse) starting to sidestep back and forth in front of him like you’re taught in elementary-school gym class. Then fingers –I guess snapping? Snapping while sidestepping? Then it gets even better, because she starts using her imagination. Because doing all of those other things wasn’t imaginative enough! No, no. Now it’s time to do something IMAGINATIVE. Like maybe come out dressed as a fairy princess, or start talking in tongues, or stand on a table and do backflips.
This all has the stench of desperation to me.
But don’t worry! We’re not done. After repeating over and over and OVER “I’m special! I’m special! SO SPECIAL! There’s NO ONE HERE LIKE ME!” (um, yeah, well, we can thank our lucky stars for that, I think, because there’s only so much room for crazies in this particular crazytown) and just BEGGING him for a minute of his time – “I gotta have some of your attention! GIVE IT TO ME!”, she comes out with this:
“I got rhythm, I can’t miss a beat, I gotta new skank so reet, got something, I’m winking at you, I’m gonna MAKE YOU NOTICE.”
WHAT THE HELL IS A REET.
Is it supposed to be “right” but that didn’t rhyme with “beat” so she went with “reet” or is reet really a thing that crazy attention-whores have? What the hell? And she’s got a new skank so reet? Is this code? Is this insane crazy 80s code? Because I was 6 when this song came out so the only code I knew was slang words for the toilet and whatever they were currently teaching me on The Electric Company. Are there any people reading this who were old enough in 1980 that would understand what the hell a reety skank is? Someone explain, please. I am at a loss, here. I think it’s important I know.
Then I watched the above video. Now, I can’t watch videos at work with the sound on, because there is no sound at my computer. There is video, but no audio. So it’s like a dumbshow, and I have to guess what’s going on from context and mummery.
What I guessed from the context of this video but not the sound because I HAVE NO SOUND:
Chrissie Hynde had rockin’ eyeliner and was a total fox. I am not being sarcastic. She was gorgeous.
I’m glad I wasn’t old enough in 1980 to deal with the men with teased and hairsprayed hair situation. How could you take that seriously? That is not sexy.
I enjoyed that during the “special” part the men in the diner pointed at “special” on the menu. Smart! Also, kind of like closed-captioning for me!
She was not sidestepping at all. I think that was a missed opportunity. Although she was kind of badass so I bet if they asked her to sidestep she might have shivved them.
The scene where the high-haired men’s girlfriends came in was kind of distressing, because the making out was gross. Who does that in a diner in the middle of the day? Put that tongue away.
Chrissie Hynde could have done better than any of those men in the video.
After watching the video, I’m kind of having a disconnect between Chrissie Hynde and the person that would be singing this song. Because listen, Chrissie Hynde would NOT be singing this song. Chrissie Hynde would be singing a song about kicking asses and taking names and leaving in the middle of the night after she’d finished with you and you’d wake up in the morning and she would have stolen your wallet but you’d be too scared to go to the cops about it because she would come back and bite you and look fabulous while she did it. I have a crush on 1980 Chrissie Hynde right now.
Now, I know you’re going to say, “It’s an 80s song, we didn’t expect much from 80s songs, lyrically, because it was the 80s and music was awful back then.” But NO! There were a lot of good things happening at the same time. For example: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen! Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd! Call Me by Blondie! Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.! (That’s a band? Lipps, Inc. was a band? I mean, of course I’ve heard the song, but seriously? Lipps, Inc.? Upsetting. That’s like a Saturday Night Live joke-type band. Really? Who took them seriously?) Do That to Me One More Time by Captain and Tennille! Whoa, wait a minute, I can’t back that play. You people in the 80s allowed that to get to #1? HOW DID THIS COME TO PASS. Listening to Captain and Tennille is like aural Novocain. I am a little embarrassed for you. Oh, wait. Right before that was #1, we find that Pina Colada song. I see where this is going. It is taking a very embarrassing turn, is where.
Has anyone ever listened to the lyrics of that Pina Colada song? Fine, I know, I know it has a name. The real name of that song is Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes. The reason I know this song so well is because once I worked on a show where the song was one of the five songs in the pre-show music, which we had in a loop, and the show ran for three weeks, and I’d have to listen to it on average 3-5 times a night. I think I know every single lyric to this song. This song and that awful, horrible, sappy, maudlin Seasons in the Sun bullshit thing. It was a nightmare, the music in that show.
In case you’re not aware, let me give you Cliff’s Notes version of the Pina Colada song.
A man gets bored with his wife (no, seriously, the song starts with “I was tired of my lady” so that’s totally sensitive), so behind her back, he answers a personal ad. The personal ad reads thusly: “If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, if you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain, if you’d like making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape, then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape.” So hey, he thinks, I’m totally bored of my old ball and chain, I will answer this! And he does. Guess who the special lady is? BAM IT’S HIS OWN WIFE. Bet you never saw THAT coming, sucka! Then the spice is back in their life because I guess they’re going to have drunken non-flexible sandy sex or whatever, I don’t know.
This song is upsetting! It is about cheaters! But no one is mad because EVERYONE is a cheater. So it all works out well! If I was a Cheaty McCheaterson, and I answered an ad (ok, but I wouldn’t answer THIS ad, because this person sounds like a WEIRDO, “half” a brain? Way to sell yourself short, lady-friend) and it was the person I was trying to “escape” from, probably I’d take the opportunity to say, hey, special friend, let’s take this as a sign we should break it off, no hard feelings, ok bye then? No sandy sex and frozen beverages for me.
Also, Seasons in the Sun is about someone who’s dead and singing to the people he left behind on earth and it is SAPPY and it makes you want to stick KNITTING NEEDLES through your EARDRUMS and it keeps going up a chord in a weird, jarring, funhouse way, and it repeats, over and over, “We had JOY, we had FUN, we had SEASONS! In the SUN!” and after that play was over I was like one of Pavlov’s dogs when I heard that song, I wanted to yell “places” and sit backstage and cover my ears and rock and beat my head against a flat while wearing a headset.
So, what have we learned today? In the 80s, you apparently got people to notice you by SIDESTEPPING. If you were female. If you were male, you wore a lot of hairspray. And Chrissie Hynde was a total babe. Also, and this is important, and if you remember nothing else, remember this, please: sandy sex is painful, yo. CHAFING. At least bring a towel or something. Damn.