Last week when The Fam was here visiting my niece Jessica was surfing YouTube and came across a video of a woman performing an interpretive dance to Musique’s 1978 disco hit In The Bush. The video was hilarious, and watching it brought me back to that time when I was in third grade and Christine Amos, Kathy Kirk and I would dance in Christine’s basement to our 45’s of Donna Summer, Andy Gibb and Gloria Gaynor. We loved all the disco music, and Musique’s In The Bush was one of our favorites. We had no idea what it meant. Not a clue. We danced and moaned along, “are you ready, are you ready for this, do you like it, do you like it like this, oh babe, push push in the bush.” We did the bump (in the bush, bush, hips tapping in time), the freak and the rock. We posed, we preened, we were disco mini divas, performing for the pin-ups of Scott Baio, John Travolta and Shaun Cassidy taped to Christine’s basement walls. Leif Garrett was there, too. None of us liked him, but every discotheque has a creep, so he was there watching. In fact, we used to take off our socks and throw them at his picture. This was a ritual. Christine’s parents had a sofa bed in the basement, so we would play music and stand on the back of the couch while the bed was folded out, jump down onto the mattress and throw socks at Leif’s picture before dismounting. The winner was the girl with the most creative toss. As a child I was quite competitive and decided to land on the mattress on my butt, throw my sock at Leif as I bounced up, land on my feet and jump off the bed. It looked so cool in my mind. But as my backside met mattress, I must have hit an errant spring; I flew up into the air and off the bed, landing hard on my ass on the concrete floor. Kathy peed her underwear, and I couldn’t sit on my left cheek for almost two days, but I did win. I blamed Leif for the entire incident and we graduated to darts until Mrs. Amos punished Christine for all the holes in her walls. But my real point is this:
All of our parents knew exactly what it meant to push push in the bush. We didn’t. We just wanted to dance. No one made a big deal of it. No one told us the meaning, no one banned us from listening, there were no parental advisories, just three little girls dancing to a good beat. I used to watch my mom clean the apartment in her Viceroy Sweethearts bell bottom jeans, blaring Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby, the vacuum her dancing partner. I didn’t understand all the moaning. I thought Donna was feeling the music. What I did know was Bobby Goldsboro’s Honey was about his dead wife and it haunted me enough to give me nightmares. I’d much rather drift off to Love To Love You Baby any day.
When I was a senior in high school one of the nuns was so horrified by pop song lyrics, she founded a short-lived chapter named SAIL, which was an acronym for Students Against Immoral Lyrics. She posted a list of songs that were positively sinful, including Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Prince’s Darling Nikki, Samantha Fox’s Touch Me, and Paul Lekakis’ Boom Boom. She encouraged us to listen to songs that held positive, Christian messages, and to avoid the words of the devil disguised with awesome dance beats. I was familiar with all these songs, knew they were sexual, but wasn’t everything, if you looked deep enough? Sure as shit we were all looking deep now that Sr. Germaine had brought it to our attention. I’m sure the sales of those songs on her list went through the roof at Wall to Wall Sound and Sam Goody. I liked Like A Virgin; didn’t Sr. Germaine hear the line about “only love can last?” Message: sex without love not as good as sex with love. And Boom Boom: hated that song. Nothing less sexy than a man demanding you to come back to his room so you can make him feel right. What about me, chief? Songs are songs, poetry set to music. Do I appreciate all of it? No. I don’t like rap songs about popping someone in the head or using many bitches to get some rocks off. It’s the message received, not the message given. We all hear what we want to, no matter how it’s packaged. I could write, “My mom left me at the store.” Some of you would take it as, “My mom dropped me off at the store.” Some of you might read, “My mom abandoned me at the store.” Where does the line meet you? Where are you when Boom Boom hits your brain?
Remember Sheena Easton’s Sugar Walls? Loved that song until I found out she was singing about her vagina. For me, that just ruined it. How could I dance and sing out loud on a dance floor, “Blood races to your private spots” without thinking of her engorged clitoris or her lover’s erect penis? And dancing with a guy to Sugar Walls? Any man who would dance to Sugar Walls is one man I would not want near me. Maybe if it was a rap by Queen Latifah called Suga Wallz I could digest it easier. It was my cousin Lynnie who ruined it all for me. “Do you know she’s singing about her twat?” she asked me one day while we were watching Dancin’ On Air, the producers of which, BTW, stopped playing Sugar Walls once the word was out what Sheena was referring to. “No she’s not!” I said. I thought she was singing, “Right through the wall,” which I guess doesn’t make any sense, but it could have been referring to eavesdropping on a forbidden conversation or an arrow right through the walls of your heart. I was convinced when Lynnie said, “What do you think ten inches rise inside my sugar walls means?” Sheena was really saying “temperatures,” but I was grossed out–and scared–enough to stop listening.
I was getting a buster the other day at the gas station and Enrique Iglesias’ Tonight I’m F#@&ing You came over the transmission, only the lyrics were cleaned up so that Enrique was singing, “Please excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but tonight I’m loving you.” Rude to love someone? See; sometimes cleaning up a song just doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes all a song needs is a good f#@&.