A friend from High School turned me on to David Bowie (and the Pyschedelic Furs, and XTC) and I promptly became insanely obsessed with him. Out went Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, all my Prog favorites, and it became DavidBowieFM Austin. Drove my parents absolutely flipping nuts, I am sure. (My Da, Andy, actually likes a little Bowie. His fave songs are Changes, Golden Years, and Modern Love.)
Anyroad, as I was doing my Risky Business dance at home, devouring and living inside every single Bowie record -- and, I do mean record, folks -- I never really paid any serious amount of attention to the lyrics. The thing I liked best about Bowie was the whole package. The ever-changing "brand" he constantly recreated. I loved that he wore insane clothes, and tons of girly makeup, and that he was constantly doing daft, showy, theatrical stuff as part of his act. (In 1974, Bowie totally ditched his very expensive Orwellian 1984 sets for his Diamond Dogs tour halfway through, as it was a dud, and a bore. He went without a set, at all, the rest of the tour, just him with a skull as a prop in a Hamlet get up. He also used to do mime on stage as part of his show!) That whole part of Bowie naturally appealed to the Drama Major side of me.
But, the fact that all these pretentious theatrical phases were always ultimately tied up in to a Rock format and genre appealed to the teenage male part of me. That, and the guitars. And the sex.
I had no inkling that Queen Bitch was a song about a drag queen. I barely even knew what a drag queen was, probably. Queen Bitch rocked! The song seemed sexy as all get out, and, it had the word "bitch" in the title. How naughty!
I still have no idea what the song Cracked Actor is about. (I will work on that today.) But, Cracked Actor rocked! And, he talks about "head" in it. I barely knew what head was back then, and I most certainly had not given or received it yet, but it was sexy and risque.
Here are some lyrics from Velvet Goldmine:
Velvet Goldmine, you stroke me like the rain
Snake it, take it, Panther Princess, you must stay
Velvet Goldmine, naked on your chain
I'll be your King Volcano right for you again and again
My Velvet Goldmine
My Velvet Goldmine
And he mentions head again in the first couplet! Looking back now, those have got to be some of the cheesiest and most ludicrous sexy song lyrics ever writ. (There was a reason the song was just the b side of a single.) I did not care. I did not even understand it probably. But, he mentioned head again! And it rocked! (Well, sort of.)
It is much the same thing with Suffragette City. I have always looooved Suffragette City from the moment I heard it. I am sure if you had asked me in 1983 what the greatest rock song of all-time was I would have told you Suffragette City. I liked the guitars a lot. Suffragette City really does rock. I loved how the "Hey, Man"s switched channels halfway through the track. I loved the thought of "Mellow thighed chicks" bending my spine out of place. Now, I knew what a Suffragette was, thanks to Paul McCartney and Jet from Band on the Run, but by the time I had formulated the thought in my head, What/Where is Suffragette City? What is this song about? would generally be the time "Wham Bam, Thank You, Ma'am" would appear, and I would be lost in a world of teenage horniness again.
But, lo and behold, just the other day, as I was walking to work, listening to Suffragette City, like an arrow through the brain, I finally figured out what/where Suffragette City is, and what the song is about. It is really simple. And, I am a little embarrassed I never figured this out earlier. The brain works in mysterious ways.
Suffragette City is the tale of a college lad, home on break from school in his dinky suburb or village. Suffragette City is the college town where he goes to school, where all the college girls are uptight, hairy feminist chicks. (Think roughly of the relationship between James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall in the movie, Starter for Ten.) Our hero and his friend are both immensely relieved and elated to be back home with their easy-going regular suburban/village girls, and all the sex that comes with it, even though our hero confesses to his friend that he is hopelessly in love and sexually obsessed with his Suffragette City girlfriend back at school.
Or, at least that is what I think. How about you?
All my love,