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Answer Records Vol. 7

August 16th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Thank my new friend Charlie for this instalment in the Answer Records series; covering the reply to Universal Soldier was his suggestion. Besides the conflict of ideology, we have Billie Jean creating a bit of a scene and Sam Cooke begging his woman to return to him. But will she, and is the kid Jacko’s son?

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Who does Wacko think he is?

Act 1: Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Demo) (1982).mp3
Renowned laydees man Michael Jackson’s denial of paternity in relation to Billie Jean’s kid is well known. Our man is not impressed when his disco dancing is disrupted by the appearance of the woman who claims that he fathered her son. He pretends not to know her, but he does admit that he followed Billie Jean into a room (because of her perfume, apparently), and then did not have sex with that woman. Perhaps the excessive consumption of Jesus-juice made Jacko forget the act that spawned a kid with his eyes, as his girl (presumably the one he won in the contest with Paul McCartney) confirms. The kid might have his eyes, but still Michael denies paternity. Not only that, he accuses Billie Jean if all manner of dishonest schemes and duplicity — and of being just some random girl.

Act 2: Lydia Murdock – Superstar (1983).mp3
Billie Jean, it’s safe to say, is rather disappointed by Michael’s denial. In her rather more convincing version, the two had an affair which Michael asked to be handled with discretion. “You became my lover, you said: ‘Let’s keep it secret, let’s not spread it around’.” The trade-off for being a secret lover? Expensive gifts and smooth-talk: “You send me flowers and diamonds, and said that you were in love. You said you never met a girl that you thought so much of.” The cad! And when he had had enough of Billie Jean, he just stopped calling. In an instance of bad timing, Billie Jean soon discovered that she was pregnant. “And when the baby was born I sent you a telegram, but it came back saying you don’t know who I am.” So when Billie Jean goes out dancing (her son presumably in good care) and spots Michael, she goes ballistic: “I did not intend to start a fight, but when you said who am I, you don’t know my face, I went off. I made a scene, I really wrecked the place. And I know you might be a big superstar and the whole wide world knows who you are, but the next time we meet, if you don’t want a scene, tip your hat with respect, ’cause I am Billie Jean.” And some child support would be nice too, she might add.

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Running from an elf

Act 1: Buffy Sainte-Marie – Universal Soldier (1964).mp3
If we want peace, all soldiers must just refuse to fight. It’s an easy equation, but, well, it’s not entirely lacking in naivety. Donovan (or Donovan or, in the original recording, The Highwaymen ) asks how without the universal soldier “would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?” Which is a bit of a strange question: more likely, the refusenik would have been executed at Dachau for the act of refusing to fight, no? Still, the soldier is “the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war. And without him all this killing can’t go on.” So, until all soldiers turn into conscientious objectors, the argument goes, they are personally to blame for war.

Act 2: Jan Berry – Universal Coward (1965).mp3
The hippy sentiment is not universally shared, least of all among the clean cut youth represented by surfer duo Jan & Dean (Dean Torrence wanted no part of the song, so it was released as a solo record by Jan Berry, who here sports the broken leg that kept him from being drafted. It did turn up on Jan & Dean Rock ‘n Folk album though). Jan is mightily pissed off that the responsibility for war is being shifted on to the runts in the trenches. With soldiers in Vietnam serving what Berry evidently thought was a just cause, the peacenik “just can’t get it through his thick skull why the mighty USA has got to be a watchdog of the world” — an opinion perpetuated by any Dick, Don and Dubya three and a half decades later. Berry defines the peacenik: “He’s a pacifist, an extremist, a communist or just a Yank; a demonstrator, an agitator, or just a knave.  A conscientious objector, a fanatic, a defector — and he doesn’t know he’s digging his own grave.” And then, by way of lazy rhyme, he gets his digs in before arriving at a nonsensical conclusion: “He’s the universal coward, and he runs from anything: from a giant, from a human, from an elf. He runs from Uncle Sam, and he runs from Vietnam. But most of all he’s running from himself.” Give that man some tea!

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Can a cad get forgiveness?

Act 1: Sam Cooke – Bring It On Home To Me (1962).mp3
Sam is heartbroken because he has been left by the woman he loves. At first he laughed it off, literally: “You know I laughed when you left, but now I know I’ve only hurt myself.” So now he is begging her to come back: “If you ever change your mind about leaving me behind, bring it to me. Bring your sweet lovin’, bring it on home to me.” He is making extravagant promises: “I’ll give you jewellery, money too.” And, in case she is not so much of a material girl, “You know I’ll always be your slave till I’m dead and buried in my grave”  — which we know, alas, will be all to soon.

Act 2: Carla Thomas – I’ll Bring It On Home To You (1962).mp3
Sam’s sweet-talk worked. Carla is packing her bags as we speak: “Darling, you’ve made me change my mind. I can’t leave you leave you behind. I’m gonna bring it to you, bring my sweet loving, bring it on home to you.” Carla is satisfied that he has learnt his lesson: “I heard you laughing when I left. So now you know, you only hurt yourself.” Sam gets forgiveness, even though it was he “who stayed out late at night”. She is not a material girl: “Don’t want your jewellery or money too and nothing else you said you would do. I’m just gonna bring it to you.” And then the poignant verse: “You said you’d always be my slave till you were buried in your grave, but you got a little time yet…”

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  1. August 19th, 2010 at 02:09 | #1

    Oh yea, great to hear “Jimmie Davis – Born To Be Blue”. For that alone, thanks! Nice post.

  2. November 24th, 2011 at 09:37 | #2

    Perhaps a bit late to comment, but “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” by Romeo Void, #35 in 1984, is an answer song to “Billie Jean.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAbV06060KQ

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