A woman goes in to a bar and asks the barman for a “double entendre”
So he gave her one.
Off for a walk after, listening to The Stranglers. This had come from hearing Golden Brown on the radio just after that joke. But of course to get to Golden Brown on The Very Best Of The Stranglers you have to go through Peaches. And this got me to thinking…from double entendre to, well, some of the masters of the “single entendre” – like AC/DC (Giving The Dog A Bone), ZZ Top (Pearl Necklace), Kiss (Lick It Up) and of course The Stranglers with their song that is not even remotely about actual peaches…
Innuendo is a wonderful thing in the pop song. Especially because when we hear certain songs at a certain age or stage – or even in a certain way (half-listening) we don’t pick up on the real intent of the words. But did we not pick up on it, or is the embarrassing metaphor so obvious, so clunky, that it could hit us right in the face? If we, erm, pulled up to its bumper, could we drive it in-between? Or if we were relaxed enough perhaps we’d hit the target with our laser-beam?
Grace Jones’ Pull Up To The Bumper and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax were the first two (shining) examples I could think of. Pop songs that really are rather rotten when you take on board the full impact of the lyrical matter and weigh that against the number of times they have been played…in public, with unsuspecting children (and adults for that matter) singing along…They’re probably two of the first songs where I ‘clicked’ as well, spotted that ‘something else’ was being said when the singer was singing and/or sinning…
I remember singing along to Cyndi Lauper’s She Bop when I was a young girl lad – aged eight or nine or whatever – and of course not only did I not stop to ponder what ‘she’ was ‘bopping’, I was content to sing along with likes like “They say I’m gonna need a chaperone/Cos I can’t stop messing with the danger zone” and “They say that a stitch in time saves nine/They say I better stop or I’ll go blind”.
But of course the blues music that gave birth to rock’n’roll that morphed on over in to pop is veritably riddled with innuendo and entendre so singular it’d curl your French Fries.
Old enough to be a great grandmother to Ms Lauper, Bessie Smith sang about needing some sugar in her bowl and some jelly to fill her roll and I just assumed that she was
heading over to her neighbour’s to borrow a cup of sugar (maybe she was. It’d be her luck that John Lee Hooker, with his Crawling King Snake, was her neighbour…)
Yes, it’s actually an entirely separate post altogether looking at the filth of blues mythology…the black snake moans, the red roosters to lazy to crow, and the lemons that you can squeeze until the juice runs right down the leg…
Here’s Lucille Bogan with Shave ‘Em Dry. Blatant enough?
But can you think of any blatant double-meanings or frank and obvious pop/rock songs that didn’t actually reveal both of their meanings to you on a first listen? Were you sleeping with one eye open the first time you heard Turning Japanese by The Vapors? Were you pleased with yourself when you found out that Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself wasn’t so much about dancing, and much like Cyndi’s She Bop it was more about pleasing yourself?
Singing about sex and naughtiness has long been the way. As long as we make veiled references and euphemisms when we talk in everyday life there will be songwriters matching similar phrases against melodic structures. What are the best and worst, most blatant innuendos in music for you? Let’s get a list going. And the best answers can themselves a clap.
To get you started here’s a little Friday avo mood music from The Starland Vocal Band…