Tommy Tutone - “867-5309/Jenny”
“867-5309/Jenny” is a narrative sung in the first-person by Tommy Heath of the pop-rock band Tommy Tutone. It begins with the narrator addressing a female, henceforth referred to as “Jenny.” With a degree of sexual desperation, the narrator questions who to approach when overwhelmed by desire. He announces that this “Jenny” gives him “something to hold on to,” unabashedly implying his heightened state of sexual arousal whilst in said female’s presence. He proceeds to attempt to illicit a sexual response from the female in question, marking himself as different from her other suitors, despite his admittance of seeing her name and number “on the wall” of the local breeding ground.
The narrator continues to implore said female, making truthful yet droll claims of common romantic cliches, citing that not only is Jenny “the girl for [him],” but also that Jenny “makes [him] so happy.” The narrator states that his attempts to make verbal contact via telephone have failed due to weak fortitude; he is left to only imagine his encounters with the object of his affection, a notion that has left him significantly “disturbed.” He further beseeches Jenny to keep her phone number, as a point of contact for him to “make [her] mine.”
Towards the song’s conclusion, it becomes ever more apparent that Jenny refuses to respond to the narrator’s desperate sexual advances. No doubt due to his habit of repeatedly crying out Jenny’s telephone digits and implying that she is little more than a bargain trollop, having been had by numerous men for “the price of a dime.”
Tina Turner - “Private Dancer”
“Private Dancer” describes the tawdry, nocturnal life of a woman who performs erotic dance. Portrayed in the first-person by Tina Turner, the narrator describes her occupation with a gritty, uncompromising realism. She informs the listener that the “men” who visit her sordid place of business “are all the same.” She refuses to look into their faces and makes certain to never make inquiries regarding their names. She explains, perhaps accurately, that she does not think of these men as human. Instead, she “[keeps] her eyes on the wall,” no doubt to avoid the salacious stares of the presumably numerous men who witness her nightly undress.
The dancer sustains herself with duplicity, consumed with the notion that somehow the pay she receives for her sexual gambol will fulfill her quixotic wishes to lead a family life. However alluring this reverie may be, it is implied no amount of “deutcschemarks or dollars” will fulfill her close-guarded wishes of a husband and family.
Instead, the self-proclaimed “private dancer” repeatedly wails that she is nothing more than a woman whose sexually-suggestive dance is her only purpose for existence. Through smokey tones of immeasurable heartache and compromised integrity, the lost girl implores that she will “do what you want her to do.”
Currently Listening - Vinyl (6)
1. peter gabriel - security
2. paul banks - banks
3. the sword - warp riders
4. the fixx - reach the beach
5. jefferson airplane - the worst of jefferson airplane
The Chameleons - “Second Skin”
"Second Skin" is enthralling. A meditation on immortality, there’s something eerily familiar about the whole track.
"and a half-remembered tune played softly in my head…"
Its swaths of scintillating reverb and faraway synthesizers sound like glimpses of electrical pulses inside the mind. Its drums are hypnotic to the point of unwillingly inducing trances. Halfway through, the song’s swirling layers of guitars abruptly disappear, leaving little more than John Lever’s spellbinding percussion. As Mark Burgess soulfully croons over a three-chord drone, the instrumental fog is reintroduced, bit by bit, until it feels like “the stuff dreams are made of.”
"no wonder i feel like i’m floating on air…"
The second half of the song is absolutely spellbinding. It begins starkly, but the reintroduction of spidery guitars slowly crafts a skyscraper of otherworldly sound. Its progression is fascinating; by the end, it truly feels as though the listener has been on a journey to the ether and back.
Detractors can easily point out the overblown 80s production as a flaw, but the track’s composition and execution is perfect. Even as “Second Skin” floats along, drenched in reverb and gated snare, I can’t help but feel as though these cliches contribute to the song’s greatness. The atmosphere is certainly a product of its time, but it lends a grandiosity appropriate for the material.
The song has a sense of deja vu; ultimately about the realization of something that you knew was always there.
"you reach the point where you know it’s only your second skin."
The Byrds - “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
Perhaps the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. Every listen is overwhelming, and possibly my favorite cover version of any song.
I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home. BLIND FAITH - “Can’t Find My Way Home” from Blind Faith
Currently Listening - Vinyl (5)
1. bob dylan - greatest hits
2. u2 - boy
3. sly & the family stone - greatest hits
4. bruce springsteen - darkness on the edge of town
Grandaddy - “Jed the Humanoid”
My affections are hard-won. It is extremely rare when I immediately fall in love with a song. But after a melancholic, Pink Floydian introduction with somber piano, a reedy voice sang,
"last night something pretty bad happened…"
and I was hooked.
Moods of nostalgia can be found elsewhere on The Sophtware Slump, but never is it more poignant than on “Jed the Humanoid.” The idea of being nostalgic for a future that has yet to happen is an intriguing concept. Bowie did it on “Drive-In Saturday,” summoning warm & fuzzy feelings for kids watching seventies porno in the future. The recent movie Looper featured characters in a bleak future being nostalgic for a past they had never experienced. “Jed the Humanoid” examines similar themes, but does so in the frame of great tragedy.
The music is distinctly melancholy. The track’s piano lopes drunkenly alongside eerie waltzing organ. Mellotron-like wailing adds to the sentiment and maudlin voices chant each line in repetition, like a choir of robot angels in mourning. The funeral dirge of the music is quite appropriate.
Because the song is lyrically devastating.
The lyrics describe a family living in some distant future who purchase and build a robot. At first, they are enamored with their creation. But then, things change.
"a couple years went by and something happened. we gave jed less attention. we had new inventions…"
In a fit of indescribable grief and self-loathing, Jed the Humanoid finds the family’s alcohol and drinks himself to death.
“Jed the Humanoid” is a powerful song because it’s so truthful. In many ways, Jed’s story is the story of us all. It’s a classic parable; things change. Sometimes people don’t care enough. They fall in and out of love. Children grow up and lose their innocence.
And sad robots drink themselves to death.