Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"Do You Wanna Touch Me"

Music has always had a pretty adversarial relationship with the straight and narrow. I'm talking about things like censorship, political correctness and from time to time, even plain old good taste. Anyone that remembers the Judas Priest court case in 1985, or the sight of Frank Zappa, Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister and, get this, John Denver all speaking out in front of a Senate Committee against the labelling of records in the US, will know the sort of thing I'm talking about. Or the sad spectacle of James Brown being led away by the police on suspicion of transporting a minor across state lines. Or Whitney Houston's crack-fuelled meltdown.
A lot of folks argue that musicians and artists in general are special cases, that we might want to make allowances for their oddness, for their weakness, for the fact that they don't live by the same code that we, the general public, do.
Music doesn't like to be harnessed and wrangled, told what to say and what it can't say. And nor should it. But what's often more problematic is the sort of musician that comes along with that freedom of speech. Often it's simple human frailty that leaves a once-great musician washed up, broken on the wheel of addiction. Other times it's a lack of judgement that leads them astray. Other times it's just greed. The music business has the power to confer great influence and great wealth on individuals. And while it doesn't necessarily take that wealth away, it can just turn off the tap when it chooses to.
I'm not sure where this post is going except to say that today's SongWithoutWhich is, sadly, an example of a fantastic tune that's almost unplayable these days because of who its writer was, and has become. I can see all the various ironies here, believe me!
I've chosen Joan Jett's version for that reason, but also for the fact that Joan knows what this song needs: a proper, full-throated kick in the guts. This is music written from the pit of the stomach rather than the heart, or the head or even the groin. Yes, the lyric is about sex and yes, it's one of those panting-teenage-horniness songs, but listen to Joan's version and marvel at the sheer energy and power here.
This isn't so much a song about "lurve" as a chant from the football terraces, a romping, stomping declaration of intent. And no matter what's happened in the years since this was first written, you can't erase the sheer excitement, the adrenalin rush, that this song produces.


Evil Minx said...

I love how you write.

You make me want to go back to the "Record, Tape and Video Exchange" of yesteryear, off Camden Road, and start buying piles of vinyl that i know i ought to listen to in order that my music taste fulfil its potential.

*Deep and heavy sigh*

Lovely. Just lovely.

Cocaine Jesus said...

the preamble is even better that the 'review' and that is damn good.

Minerva said...

Your write ups just seem to get better and better....

Going to go and download this song on the strength of your review..but then, hey what's new?