Rock-N-Roll Kills

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I was karaoking over the holidays with some friends, and pouring over song books when I ran across an old favorite, Once Bit and Twice Shy. As a child of the 80’s it’s the Great White rendition I remember, not the Ian Hunter original. Props to Mr. Hunter.

I love that song, and it’s a crowd-pleaser. When the normally sedate karaoke M.C saw my request he announced, “We got a real rocker here!” The bar erupted in applause as I finished, and I don’t think it was due to my voice. It’s no wonder. The old-time piano crescendo, the fusion of rock and blues, and of course story-telling. It really charges people up. My favorite line in the song, the one that hooks me is, woman your a mess gonna die in your sleep. No doubt appealing to the gothic in me. I hadn’t really digested the lyrics until faced with singing them in public. Waiting for my turn I recited what I could remember of the lyrics in my head.

 

“Once Bitten, Twice Shy”

Well the times are getting hard for you, little girl
I’m a humming and a strumming all over god’s world
You can’t remember when you got your last meal
And you don’t know just how a woman feels

You didn’t know what rock and roll was
Until you met my drummer on a grey tour bus
I got there in the nick of time
Before he got his hands across your state line

Now it’s the middle of the night on the open road
And the heater don’t work and it’s oh so cold
You’re looking tired, you’re looking kind of beat
The rhythm of the street sure knocks you off your feet

You didn’t know how rock and roll looked
Until you caught your sister with the guys from the group
Half way home in the parking lot
By the look in her eye she was giving what she got

Woman you’re a mess going to die in your sleep
There’s blood on my amp and my Les Paul’s beat
Can’t keep you home, you’re messing around
My best friend told me you’re the best lick in town

You didn’t know that rock and roll burned
So you bought a candle and you lived and you learned
You got the rhythm you got the speed
Mama’s little baby likes it short and sweet

I didn’t know you had a rock and roll record
Until i saw your picture on another guy’s jacket
You told me I was the only one
But look at you now, it’s dark and you’re gone

 

So the song is a cautionary tale from the perspective of a veteran rock-n-roller who’s seen one too many young girls fondled in, the back of the grey tour bus. Not the kind of admission of the pop stars today. Self-awareness in contemporary lyrics boils down to , I live for the applause, applause, applause…

I like it. It’s a refreshing change from candy-coated Katy Perry goo. But then there’s the song writer’s troubling revelation, there’s blood on my amp. Blood? Who’s blood? Has my fun karaoke song turned into a slasher flick? I don’t get it…then I check the lyrics and realize that the line finishes with …my Les Paul’s beat. Why is his Les Paul (guitar) beat? The same reason his amp is covered in blood, he’s struck the groupie chick with it. So this why she’s going to die in her sleep? He’s predicting her murder. Once bit and Twice Shy is really a murder confession! If there’s any doubt the song finishes up with an explanation he found her picture on another guy’s jacket. She cheated on him, and now … it’s dark and you’re gone.

 

 

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