Category Archives: music

it’s a bitch, girl: finding the true, beating heart of a hall and oates classic


Something always bothered me about Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl.” I could never place it, but something was . . . wrong with that song. (I’ll pause here for you to make the requisite, “What isn’t wrong with ‘Rich Girl?’” crack.) But I never knew what until this morning, when, whilst pacing the halls at work, I heard it oozing from the overhead speakers. And it hit me!

Sing with me, if you will, the chorus:


You’re a rich girl and you’ve gone too far

‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway.

You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can rely on the old man’s money!


That’s it!—why repeat the third line?

Granted, Hall does add a nice bit of exclamatory emphasis there; you imagine him gripping said rich girl by the arms and trying to shake some sense into her. But that’s wasted song real estate, man! The chorus is the only part anyone will remember—why not get your, ahem, money’s worth? How about . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can consume all the milk and honey!


If you want to be conservative with it, basically restating the essential theme of line three in, as Black Francis once said, a poetic kind of way. Or, to dig even deeper into the imagery . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can pretend that it’s always sunny!


Because, hey, you’re a rich girl, and it never rains on the rich and beautiful. (I’m assuming you’re beautiful if Darryl Hall is so concerned and he’s not, you know, talking about his daughter.) Or . . .


You can rely on the old man’s money.

You can devour a cute lil’ bunny!


Raw! In a pet store! Right in front of a pack of little kids! Because you’re rich, and there are no consequences for the rich! Now that’s hammering it home. Darryl Hall, America’s first 99-percenter!

And it would have made for a hell of a music video.

. . . Or something along those lines. All’s I’m saying . . . don’t waste the real estate, Darryl. That’s not how people get rich in the first place.


kickstart my black heart

Recently, several FOE bands have created Kickstarter campaigns to fund their projects. In case you don’t know, Kickstarter is a kind of online clearing-house for donations toward a new album, van, installation piece . . . whatever you want to ask people to give you money for. If your project doesn’t meet the funding goal, no one’s bank account is hit. If it does, your donators are charged and then showered with rewards in this and, surely, the next life. Like a picture of me as the cover of your album. Hint hint, Modern Skirts. I suggest this one:

Or one free bank heist using the van your small contribution helped to fund. (Looking at you, the HEAP.)

Who knows what the Kickstarter people get out of this. As one who invokes “karma” only as a tool of grudging acceptance when he is cornered into performing some act of goodwill, the Evil chooses to believe these Kickstarter folk aren’t doing it for the joy of seeing artists and whatnot fulfill (the financial elements of) their dreams. Probably something involving skimming microamounts of cash off the top to fund some sort of death ray. Because that’s what the Evil would do.

Really, the only dilemma is whether to mount said ray on a satellite locked in geosynchronous orbit ‘round Earth or in the scooped-out guts of a dormant volcano. Maybe it seems obvious, from a funding standpoint—even with advances in budget rocket technology and the availability of private launches, getting a satellite-mounted death ray into space isn’t a cheap proposition. But then, you try building the pneumatic lift needed to hoist the death ray over a steaming caldera for less than ten million bucks. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, no?*

* “Six of one, half a dozen of the other” is, by the way, a brilliant phrase. It nestles snugly in that perfect zone of cliché-ty. On the one hand, it can be said so often and in so many situations that it has been rendered virtually meaningless. Just try it. Someone asks you where you want to eat lunch? Shrug and spit, “Eh, six of one . . .” You will be lightly scorned for sucking down precious oxygen to spew into the world yet more conversational filler. On the other hand, this cliché hasn’t become so infuriatingly ubiquitous that your friends will yearn to punch you in the face for uttering it. Perfect.**

** For an example of a cliché worthy of a public pummeling, see “It is what it is.” Or “Not so much.”

Anywho. The Evil isn’t ready to Kickstart the ol’ death ray campaign. But when he is, just know that he appreciates your contribution with all his black heart. And that you will be among Lil’ Deathy’s first targets.

john vs. paul: christmas edition

No, no . . . we’re not talking John the Baptist vs. St. Paul. Yes, once again, Evil dips into the bottomless well of Beatle and Beatle-related trivia for today’s exercise.

Last week, Stephen Colbert joked that you may experience a seasonal malady whereby you find yourself repeatedly hearing “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. Now, the Evil is fairly cool (and occasionally complicit) with the punchlinification of Paul’s career, life, and music, the gears of which spin on the shaft of the Lennon-McCartney schism. But today Evil steps forth to remind you of one thing:

If we’re going to lightly rag Paul’s holiday contribution, just remember that “Wonderful Christmastime” is infinitely, infinitely superior to John’s own Christmas tune. Because, though you might never have considered it before, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is a horrible song.

Not saying “Wonderful Christmastime” ranks ups there with a “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” or “Christmas in Hollis”, but “Happy Xmas” is insufferable. It might in fact represent the nadir of Lennon’s music. Firstly, it just sounds like a stereotypical Christmas song. Replete with a keening children’s chorus, for Chrissakes. (Plus Yoko wailing in there.) You would know “Happy Xmas” is a Christmas song even if you couldn’t hear the vocal track—this coming from our would-be musical avant-garde savior. Lennon bumping up its keepin-it-real quotient by slapping in “Xmas” (oh no you dint!) and the parenthetical anti-war citation doesn’t help. It’s as if he knew he’d written four minutes of schlock and was desperate to redeem it. Mission failed, John.

Continue reading john vs. paul: christmas edition

song titles that LIE: special beatles edition


This edition of

Song Titles That LIE

is devoted to the lyingest LIARS of all, the Beatles. You can fuddle our minds with your Rock Band, rob us even blinder with your remasters (stereo and mono) . . . but Evil is watching you, Beatles. Both here and in the hereafter. There is no escape. Herewith.

“I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” (A Hard Day’s Night): Come on. Come on. We’ve heard all the blather about “a more innocent time”, but even in 1964, no guy was happy “just” to dance with a woman. Unless “dance” was a euphemism for acts of incredible naughtiness in ’64? Baby Boomers, let us know!

“Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” (Beatles For Sale): This might be less of an outright LIE than a cruel joke on a bandmate. I mean, you could see this being at least somewhat plausible had John sang it, maybe Paul . . . but to hand over lead-singing duties for this song to Ringo? Informal polling indicates that less than 7% of “everybody” has ever shown any interest in being Ringo’s baby. So, what? Were the other guys still hazing poor Ringo by album four?

Continue reading song titles that LIE: special beatles edition

decadence: the new innocence!

spinning drumkit

One thing I miss about the 80’s: the innocence. What else can you say about a decade during which “romance” was clearly understood to mean “freaky stripper sex?” Vince Neil could sing that the “Tropicana’s where I lost my heart” without irony or crippling self-awareness. In those halcyon days, it was utterly plausible for a bespandexed rock star to fall in love with a woman simply by virtue of her ability to execute a vertical split on the pole.

Credit Reagan. Or the as-yet-unleashed full fury of the AIDS crisis. Or a desperate release of tension in the shadow of potential nuclear annihilation. For whatever reason, it was undoubtedly a purer time.

. . . Granted, my take on the 80’s might also have something to do with my having been ten when Mötley Crüe released Girls, Girls, Girls. So sure, this innocence might have been inherent not to the decade itself, but to my developing mind. But I think not. There’s a reason kids these days gravitate towards hip-hop, not rock. You won’t hear Coldplay singing: “Friday night and I need a fight/My motorcycle and a switchblade knife.” But you might hear Fiddy say just that.

Continue reading decadence: the new innocence!

baseball, the outfield, and utilitarian sex talk


Whilst attending the Braves game last Saturday (vs. the Brewers, or as FOE Billy dubbed it, “Old Milwaukee vs. Milwaukee’s Best”), something strange, pathetic, and awful happened:

Bottomadaninth, two outs, second baseman Kelly Johnson strides to the plate . . . and over the loudspeakers, what song doth blare? “Your Love” by the Outfield. You know: “I don’t wanna lose your love . . . to-niiiiii-iiiight/I just wanna use your love . . . to-niiiii-iiiight.”


Some players choose menacing metal intro songs: “Enter Sandman” for Trevor Hoffman, “Crazy Train” for Chipper Jones. Others choose something rhythmic and pounding from the current hip-hop canon.

But “Your Love” by the Outfield? Has anyone heard a worse walk-up song? Ever?

We were stunned—prevented from laughing only by the disbelieving pity constricting our throats. We rationalized what was happening: maybe it wasn’t Kelly Johnson’s chosen song. Maybe “Your Love” was only playing because it was the bottom of the ninth, and the Braves didn’t want to lose . . . to-niiiii-iiiight.

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son of song titles that LIE


This time we’re going a little old school with the LIES. You might be tooling down the road, your eyes pummeled by billboards spewing advertising dreck, by bumper stickers describing personal morals the drivers wished were true—and you flip on the radio to some classic rock, songs from a simpler time, when a long-haired, drug-addled singer really seemed to be pouring truth through the speakers into your ears. . . .




Herewith, more

Song Titles That LIE

“Only the Good Die Young” (Billy Joel): Just pointing this out, William: Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death in prison at the age of 34. So are you telling us 34 is “old”? Or are you somehow recklessly implying that Dahmer was “good”? Thin ice, William. Thin ice.

“The Song Remains the Same” (Led Zeppelin): Sheesh—this song LIES within about 30 seconds. It’s all buh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-buhduhduhduhduh—then suddenly it’s mee-dee-mee, mee-mee-mee-dee-mee—and then, whoa!, it’s bee-dee-bee-CHONK-CHONK-bee. I mean, Zep doesn’t even try to cover up this LIE. It’s pathetic.
Continue reading son of song titles that LIE