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Archive for September 4th, 2011

Don’t go out with women who expect to get money,
Though they may act sweet and call you “honey”.
I wouldn’t make a habit of datin’ her none,
Even if she’s cute and a whole lot of fun.
There’s not much more to relate;
These are inappropriate women to date.
  –  Chip Wilson

One year ago today I published “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody”, the first of three columns featuring the lyrics of (and links to) songs about prostitutes; it was followed by a second part the next day, and by “Sweet Painted Ladies” on October 25th.  And since it’s been a while since we visited the theme, I thought another collection of whore songs might be welcome.  As I pointed out last year, “Since most songwriters are male, most of these songs are of course from the male point of view; we’ll start with the two exceptions in observance of the ‘ladies first’ principle.”

Private Dancer (Mark Knopfler)

All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don’t look at their faces
And you don’t ask their names
You don’t think of them as human
You don’t think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
Keeping your eyes on the wall

(refrain) I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
I’ll do what you want me to do
I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money
And any old music will do

I want to make a million dollars
I wanna live out by the sea
Have a husband and some children
Yeah, I guess I want a family
All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don’t look at their faces
And you don’t ask their names

(refrain)

Deutch marks or dollars
American Express will do nicely, thank you
Let me loosen up your collar
Tell me, do you wanna see me do the shimmy again?

(refrain)

(refrain)

This song was written in 1982 by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits for their album Love Over Gold, but after the music was recorded he realized it would be deeply inappropriate for a male to sing the lyrics and so the song sat unused until remade by Dire Straits for Tina Turner’s comeback album in 1984.  Though the song (like the musical Sweet Charity before it) uses taxi dancing as a metaphor for prostitution, I daresay few listeners over the age of 15 needed to be told what the song was really about, and the video hints at it even more strongly.  Turner’s world-weary whore who gets through her days by dehumanizing her customers stands in stark contrast to Cher’s character from this rare single:

A Woman’s Story (Nino Tempo, April Stevens and Phil Spector)

There are many who have laid with me
Then got up and walked away from me
And played around with me, like I was a game
Every night was a one night fling
And when I’d given them everything
They never even asked me for my name
Yeah, they never even asked me for my name

Now I found real love! Make no mistake about it
‘Cause now that I feel love
I just can’t live without it!
So if you love me the way I love you
Why can’t we spend our lives as one

My reputation was all over town
As a woman who was passed around
And I knew every wrong way to go
Seen every room with a bed inside it
And if you’ve had nothing tried, I tried it
But from now on I say, hell no!
Oh, from now on I say, hell no!

Oh!, now that I found love! I just can’t live without it!
Now that I feel love, make no mistake about it!
So if you love me the way I love you
Why can’t we spend our lives as one

While the wish of Turner’s character for a husband and children seems about as likely to be granted as her wish for a million dollars, Cher’s character believes she has found true love and is willing to bring up the subject to her beloved.  And perhaps she’ll succeed; unlike Turner’s character she has never reduced her clients to faceless, inhuman sources of income.  If anything, she seems grievously wounded by the fact that many of her customers appear to have dehumanized her.  This song was produced for Cher by Phil Spector for what was to be her first post-Sonny Bono album, but due to cost overruns the project was shelved in favor of the less expensively produced Stars (1975).  “A Woman’s Story” was released as a single, but did not chart and is now extraordinarily difficult to find.

The subject matter of the next song, a #1 hit from October of 1978, is just as dark as that of the first two, but told from the client’s point of view and cloaked in a catchy pop style; lyrics in parentheses are sung by the backup singers.

Hot Child in the City (Nick Gilder)

Danger in the shape of something wild
Stranger dressed in black, she’s a hungry child
No one knows who she is or what her name is
I don’t know where she came from or what her game is

(refrain) Hot child in the city
Hot child in the city
Runnin’ wild and looking pretty
Hot child in the city

So young to be loose and on her own
Young boys, they all want to take her home
And when she comes downtown
The boys all stop and stare
When she comes downtown
She walks like she just don’t care, yeah

(refrain)

Come on down to my place, baby
We’ll talk about love
Come on down to my place, woman
We’ll make love

Hot child in the city
(Hot child in the city)
She’s kinda dangerous
(Hot child in the city)
Young child
(Runnin’ wild and lookin’ pretty)
Young child, runnin’ wild
(Hot child in the city)
Hot child in the city
(Hot child in the city)
(Hot child in the city)
(Hot child in the city)
Hot child in the city
(Hot child in the city)
Hot child in the city
(Hot child in the city)

It is difficult to imagine a song about an underage streetwalker making it to the top of the charts in 2011, unless it was sung as a lugubrious ballad by a pop diva who spelled out its exact meaning in every single interview and parroted inane “300,000 trafficked children” drivel as part of the sales pitch.  But in 1978, the very oldest Baby Boomers were only 30 and hadn’t started taking themselves so seriously yet.  Lest you think the audiences simply didn’t realize what it was about, I assure you that most of my friends certainly did (a couple of years later one of them used to tease me about my budding whorishness by singing it to me), and Nick Gilder stated it point-blank in a Rolling Stone interview.

The subject matter of our last selection for today wasn’t quite so obvious; even in 1973 most radio stations might’ve been reluctant to play it as often as they did had they realized it was an ode to a brothel.

La Grange (Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill & Frank Beard)

Rumor spreadin’ a-’round in that Texas town
’bout that shack outside La Grange
And you know what I’m talkin’ about.
Just let me know if you wanna go
To that home out on the range.
They gotta lotta nice girls ah.

Have mercy.
A pow, pow, pow, pow, a pow.
A pow, pow, pow.

Well, I hear it’s fine if you got the time
And the ten to get yourself in.
A hmm, hmm.
And I hear it’s tight most ev’ry night,
But now I might be mistaken.
Hmm, hmm, hmm.

Ah have mercy.

This well-loved brothel in La Grange, Texas was of course the “Chicken Ranch”, later immortalized as the subject of the hit musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; in the 1982 movie the madam was played by Dolly Parton.  And this brings us full circle, because one of the songs from that musical, “Texas Has a Whorehouse In It”, was featured in my original column on this subject one year ago today.

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