Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Songs: My Sexual Ineptitude (2001)

There is in the blues and rock and roll a long tradition of men celebrating their own brilliance as lovers, as witness Sixty Minute Man, The Train Kept a-Rollin, I’m a Man, and many others. I was never able to discern how Bo Diddley’s boast in the last that he could make to multiple women in an hour’s time would in any way enhance his erotic stature, unless the idea that he was so fantastically virile that his various partners would be able to withstand only a few minutes of his implacable pumping. I addressed this idea in my 1997 song God’s Gift to Women, the singer of which takes a very different tack: Hey, pretty women, form a nice tidy queue. It may take weeks for me to make love to you/ Because I take my time / You know what I’m through, you’ll say I’m God’s Gift to Women.

Remaining amused by the idea of a singer flaunting tradition by admitting to not being much good in the sack, I composed My Sexual Ineptitude in 2001. Thinking of himself as a kitten up a tree when it comes to lovemaking, the singer describes as defiant, ugly, and coarse his own inadequacy, which rears its head in four different scenarios. In the first, he’s a swashbuckler who must scale the walls of a castle to get to the imprisoned princess he hopes to hump. But he’s apparently so discombobulated about having to wear tights that he mistakenly moons her, and then gets pelted with large tomatoes by the outraged peasantry. In the second, he meets “a chick in London Town,” and manages to get invited back to her apartment, only for her cat to cause an argument that precludes  their, uh, shagging. (Could it be that he contrived the argument out of performance anxiety?). Later he discovers himself uninterested in a same-sex tryst, and finally, apparently in desperation, travels to the Russian steppes in hope of finding erotic satisfaction. Even this ends in tears.

One of my idols: Cole Porter
I have long been a very avid admirer of the work of Cole Porter, and in the second verse pay homage to him. In I Get a Kick Out of You, he wrote, dazzlingly, Flying so high in the sky with some guy is my idea of nothing to do.” Five rhymes, back to back! I am proud to have matched that with We sat and chewed the fat. The cat begat a spat. Let’s see Leonard Cohen do that!

The song is packed with melody, but contains only two chords, with a bass line inspired by that in Talk Talk’s sublime It’s My Life,”which turns me to mush every time I hear it. As I did throughout the album of which this song was a part, Sex With Twins (originally Sex With Twinge in deference to my then-teenaged daughter’s horror), I played all the instruments myself, including the rhythm guitar. I loved my then-future bride’s wispy background vocals so much that I must have spent an hour listening to them over and over after she recorded them. 

The synthesizer solo heard under the song’s extended fadeout is a whole take, rather than a comp(ilation) of the best moments of multiple takes. It was only the second stab at it. I played it with my left hand, as my left hand is very much dominant when it comes to keyboards. I have never had a piano lesson, and when I first began trying to teach myself to play, i was trying to play boogie-woogie bass lines with my left hand, which consequently became very much more dexterous. 

Maybe the peasantry's always outraged. Witness today's America, which I find so terrifying as to have taken to doing my witnessing from the width of the Atlantic Ocean away.

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