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Music Review: Pere Ubu – Why I Hate Women

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It gradually dawns on you the drive from Vermont to Cleveland probably shouldn't have been attempted at night, especially given the circumstances. Tarry highway coffee can't beat back the buzzing behind your eyes and the vile taste of exhaustion rising at the back of your throat. The last time you looked in the mirror, the bruises around your neck had blossomed from faint red suggestions of violence into splendid purple and blue memorials of the last hour you'll ever spend in that town. You need a shave and a transfusion probably wouldn't hurt either.

You reach down to press in the cigarette lighter, and as you look away from the road the edge of your eye catches sight of the furry… thing… driving the white panel truck as it blows past you on the right. What the hell?

Later, pitching the dead end of the same cigarette out the window, you swear the trees furring the black hills to the north suddenly resolve themselves into a gigantic man-shaped figure rising out of the woods against an inky Berkshire sky and striding off to the west. A second later, you pass a tractor-trailer. When you are able to look back north, there is nothing there but trees and sky.

As the exhaustion creeps deeper into your chest, you drift in and out of awareness, the center line a punctuated commentary on the tedium of driving through upstate New York. You climb that line hand over hand, every mile one mile closer to Cleveland. The radio cuts in and out, a jittery melange of classic rock, bad country, and paranoid ranting about God, UFOs and government conspiracies.

It is some time before you realize the whirring you hear is the car's front wheels grasping blindly at mud. You open your eyes. It is some time before you realize you aren't driving any more and you probably shouldn't try to move in case it makes the pain hurt worse. It is some time before you realize there had been someone in the car with you, and you don't remember where they came from. You wonder what could be making that thrashing sound in the brush down below you.

The night is getting colder, and over the occasional whoosh of passing cars on the highway above, the radio is playing again, a curious mixture of agitated rock, stealthy nightmares, and electronic squealing that echoes the buzzing behind your eyes. There's a theremin playing like a demented steel guitar, and the singer's disembodied nasal voice hovers just above you like a wisp of fog, intoning cryptically about lost luggage, two slices of white bread sealed in a ziploc bag, and bars where the beer don't walk on him. He's got a job for life. In your head — in my head is a white room where all the good things go. A man with a bag walks in, drops it on the floor and he goes. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

I gotta get out of this place else I swear my head will crack – crack!
I gotta get out of this place else I swear my head will crack
What will you do for me?
Johnny Two-Toes says to Betty Groove

I wait for the dawn but I fear the dawn will not come back
I wait for the dawn but I fear the dawn will not come back
What will you do for me?
What will you do?

There's something that's closin down on me feels like a hand grabbed round my throat
There's something that's closin down on me feels like a hand grabbed round my throat
What will you do for me?
Johnny Two-Toes says to Betty Groove
What will you do?

I gotta get outa this town for I swear this town will be the death of me
I gotta get outa this town for I swear this town will be the death of me
What will you do for me?
Johnny Two-Toes says
What will you do for me?

Sleep finally overcomes and the night is split by the red pulsations of emergency vehicles. The activity comes nearer, and the man and the electronic buzzing sing together just for you, with the infinite love of a father for his helpless newborn child,

My eyes are growin tentacles for to grab you
My eyes are growin hand grenades for to have you
My eyes are growin tentacles for to grab you
I live in a house without any windows

My hands are growin spectacles for to grab you
My hands are growin half the night for to have you
My hands are growin spectacles for to grab you
My hands are growin spectacles…
I live in a house without any windows
I got a 40 watt bulb to light up my life.

As the music grows to a noisy and disjointed climax and abruptly dissolves into the busy sounds of an upstate New York freeway night, it gradually dawns on you that Cleveland is going to have to wait a while.

Please continue reading about Pere Ubu's Why I Hate Woman and the process of reviewing music.

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About John Owen

  • zingzing

    as for pere ubu, get modern dance and dub housing. then get the early singles. it wasn’t their most experimental time, but it certainly was their most enjoyable.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! This article was an Editor’s Pick this week.