First and foremost, I’d like to shrug my shoulders. It’s a disclaimer of sorts, but really…there’s no rhyme or reason for writing this other than the fact that I was taken aback when I realized how many people were singing about this subject in such a candid manner. So forgive me if your conscience is a little overwhelmed with the information and details. Mine is too.
Old Crow Medicine Show with “My Good Gal”
OCMS made short work of getting me to empathize with the protagonist in this story. With statements like, “[she] just leave me with a stack of them bills to pay” and, “she don’t have the courtesy to shut the door when she been playin’ whore,” we think we’re merely hearing a melancholy bluegrass ditty about a man discovering the truth about his girlfriend. We’re on his side when he’s driving all over town, and Elliott Smith’s song “Drive All Over Town” from Roman Candle comes to mind. “This guy’s losing his shit, but can you blame him?” But Elliott wasn’t much of a killer, I guess, because OCMS drove all over town and “shot her down and left her there in the cold, cold ground.”
Wilco with “Bull Black Nova”
This is probably the most graphic one of them all. Jeff Tweedy and Co. warmed us up to the idea of homicide in the first line of “Via Chicago,” where he spoke/sang, “I dreamed about killin’ you again last night and it felt alright to me.” His ability to write with candor about burying someone alive was probably looked over by most who consider Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to be such a groundbreaking record. But amidst the beautiful love ballads and calls to overcome depression, Wilco (The Album) also features “Bull Black Nova,” a song about driving around with a body in the trunk of a Chevy Nova. Tweedy sings, “blood in the sink, blood in the trunk.” I just thought this was a good, aggressive murder ballad (we all love those, right?), but I was surprised to read a review in Rolling Stone where he readily admits that the song is “written from the point of view of a guy who just killed his girlfriend.” My man, Jeff: way to take it to a new level.
Johnny Cash with “Cocaine Blues”
The only way I know how to listen to this song is to dance like a redneck and sing it at the top of my cursed lungs. I don’t feel bad; I can turn off my conscience! I don’t need to say anything about this gem, so just listen to it and revel in it. Be one with the man in black. Don’t forget the day he “shot that bad bitch down.”
Ween with “Cold Blows the Wind”
This is the exact opposite of murder. This song is putting someone you love to sleep because they are no longer able to catch a Frisbee or jump on you when you come home from work. The only thing is that we can argue that scenario with human/animal rights groups all day…in my opinion, if you can’t catch a fucking flying disc, you have no business touching ground, let alone being above it. Anyways, I digress. “Cold Blows the Wind” is a story not that uncharacteristic for the Ween brothers. Nevertheless, it’s actually quite touching if only a little bit disturbing. The quintessential elements of the story are these: Jill loves Jack. Jack is slain in a battle of some sort leaving Jill helpless and in denial. Instead of joining a support group or picking up heavy drinking, Jill resorts to weeping beside Jack’s grave in an effort to bring him back to life. Ha! But wait! It works! Jack rubs the dirt out of his eyes and tells Jill, “Hey, I’m tryin’ to be dead here! What’s all the ruckus about?” She tells him if she could have “but one kiss, one kiss of your lily-white lips” she’d leave the cemetery and go to ABC. Jack is thinking about how dirty he is and how bad his breath must be, but he agrees the deal and kiss they do. She killed him! What the hell?! The romantic thing to do is to make him agree to come back to life with “one kiss, one kiss of your lily-white lips.” But what’d the girl do? She put him back in the ground.
Can I get a “No shit!” for Jimi Hendrix with “Hey, Joe”
This is one of those songs that reminds me of some of the terrible stories I’ve heard about domestic violence and paranoid husbands. It’s very American Beauty and a little too much of some really good rock and roll music. The intensity of the subject saying, “I shot her!” is conveyed both tonally and essentially, especially with how calculated he is about doing it. It isn’t like “My Good Gal,” a song written from the perspective of grief and remorse. The character’s impulsiveness and aggression is communicated, making the not-so-casual listener feel like they just played that one “optional” level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. You know the one. If you don’t, it’s ok…I don’t either.
Instead of being mad at me for pointing out these songs to you, I’d encourage to go make the one you love feel like you’d never, ever, not even in dreams, shoot him or her down and put them in the trunk of your Honda.