03 March 2006

Surrender, My Sister (or) Cheap Trick, Juliana Hatfield.

I've heard the following music on the radio recently which made quite a re-impression on my as being examples of what I find to be the best in rock:


Surrender, Cheap Trick: This entry is from 1979, sounds like it came from later, and is one of the best rock songs ever written and recorded.

The folks at Blender agree. Trivia from that article: Surrender is supposed to sound like an homage to the Sex Pistols (listen to the Live at Budokan version, above). It only peaked at #62! That's because popularity is nearly disjoint from quality. But the song is absolutely perfect, both musically and lyrically. Lyrically it combines both a message as timeless as Ecclesiastes, with a surrealism as modern as the Beatles. Musically, what's not to love? Townshendian guitars, ostinato synthesizer, a key signature and chord structure designed to fool you, layered vocals, etc.
Mother told me, yes, she told me I’d meet girls like you.
She also told me, stay away, you’ll never know what you’ll catch.
Just the other day I heard a soldier falling off some Indonesian junk that’s going round.
Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.

Father says, your mother’s right, she’s really up on things.
Before we married, Mommy served in the WACs in the Philippines.
Now, I had heard the WACs recruited old maids for the war.
But Mommy isn’t one of those, I’ve known her all these years.
Mommy’s alright, daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.

Whatever happened to all this season’s losers of the year?
Ev’ry time I got to thinking, where’d they disappear?
When I woke up, Mom and Dad are rolling on the couch.
Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my KISS records out.
Mommy’s alright, Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.


Now that is a real love song, people. Agape, not eros. Too rare in rock and roll.


My Sister, Juliana Hatfield. Of course, Ms. Hatfield's schtick is usually eros, not agape, but this song is a worthwhile exception. This is one is from 1993, quite a bit later than Surrender. They are both part of the same musical movement and quite nicely bookend my adolescence.

My sister. My sister. My sister. I hate my sister, she’s such a bitch. She acts as if she doesn’t even know that I exist. But I would do anything to let her know I care. But I am only talking to myself ’cause she isn’t there. My sister. I love my sister, she’s the best. She’s cooler than any other girl that I have ever met. She had the greatest band, she had the greatest guy. She’s good at everything and doesn’t even try. She’s got a wall around her nobody can climb.She lets her ladder down for those who really shine. I tried to scale it, but to me she’s blind. So I lit a firecracker, went off in my eye. I miss my sister, why’d she go? She’s the one who would have taken me to my first all-ages show.It was the Violent Femmes and the Del Fuegos. Before they had a record out.Before they went gold and started to grow. I miss my sister! I miss my sister! Imiss my sister! I really miss her!

Again, a strong combination of music with lyrics: the sine qua non of singer/songwriter rock-and-roll. The guitar, bass, and vocals all stridently conspire together to inform the listener of the protagonist's anger and anguish, and they cannot be ignored. They way her voice itself literally climbs in vain as the protagonist does the same. The way you, the listener, feel punched in the face in sympathetic reaction to the firecracker. If you desire pain, it doesn't get much better.