If a genie popped out of a lamp and offered 17-year-old me a single wish, odds are I would have wished for a cute musician to write a song about me.
Yeah, 17-Year-Old Jaime was an idiot.
(Seriously, 17-year-old me? Seriously? You couldn’t have wished for hair that you never have to flat-iron? Or a basic understanding of mathematics? Or guitar virtuosity so you could write a song about your own damn self?)
A decade later, I’ve realized that being immortalized in song ain’t no great shakes.
Songs named after women usually fall into two categories:
A) God-awful sentimental pap
B) Bitch broke my heart and now, I’m putting her on blast.
(Yes, there is a sub category for songs named after children – Annabella’s Song by Art Alexakis, Flowers for Zoe by Lenny Kravitz, Jessica by The Allman Brothers Band – but that is a blog post for another time)
Obviously, Category A has some exceptions – Rosalita by Bruce Springsteen, Lenny by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Josie by Blink 182 (shut up – I like it) – but odds are that if some dude is writing a song and using a girl’s name as the title, it’s either going to be an eviscerating invective or cloying crap.
There are countless examples, but I’ve chosen to highlight three of each.
Three Bad Songs About Good Women
Beth by KISS — At the risk of offending an army of grown men in black and white facepaint, Beth sucks. It’s not a song so much as it is a voicemail to Glam Rock’s Penelope:
“Hey Beth! It’s me! Yeah, I’m out playing with the boys and won’t be home. Oh, what? You miss me? You’re lonely? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah. Me too babe. What…? Yeah, I gotta go! There’s like, six trampy groupies in the back of the bus and Gene can’t possibly take on all of them…I hope. Love…holy shit, Ace! What are you doing? Dude….Babe, I gotta go! (Click).”
Sara Smile by Hall and Oates — I would rather eat my own fist than listen to this trite pablum ever again. It’s so bad, dudes. Like, so bad even the Oatestache can’t save it. I can’t even type out the lyrics because they’re so vacuous. Trust me — it’s awful. If you are dating a girl named Sara and you put this on a mix for her, she has every right to punch you in the solar plexus, sleep with your best friend and take a baseball bat to your PlayStation.
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond — It’s fun. I get it. You get hammered and you sing/shout the lyrics at the top of your voice. But if your name is Caroline, you’ve experienced at least one douchebag ex trying to get into your good graces by singing this song. And it never works, right? Why? Because barking, “So good! So good!” and getting handsy with a girl while singing, “Touching you, touching me” is not, never was and never will be an appealing quality.
However, songs about the eponymous woman who done did you wrong? Good, if not great. Anger and bitterness make for good writing. Look at Bukowski — that guy was perpetually pissed off.
Three Good Songs About Bad Women
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson — Billie Jean is a liar who busts out with some Maury shit by slapping MJ with a false paternity suit. But the song is amazing. In addition to that skittering, irrepressibly funky bassline, Billie Jean also features one of my favorite lyrics in the history of music — “Be careful what you do when a lie becomes the truth.” Bold statement about a bold statement and ain’t it the truth?
Roxanne by The Police — Our boy Sting falls for a hooker and to some, that could be considered hot. It’s all illicit and sexy….until the poor sap realizes that she’d rather purrohnnn a red laiiii than spend a night cuddling on the couch, watching Law and Order reruns. Our girl Roxy knows she doesn’t have to sell her body to the night. She wants to. Also, bonus points for the reinterpretation of the track featured in Moulin Rouge. Because I am all about the musical blasphemy, I’m gonna come right out and say it. I prefer that version. What? I like the melodrama and the lead’s anguished growl.
Layla by Derek and the Dominos — This is the anthem for every poor bastard stuck in Unrequited Hell. Read: everyone ever at one point or another. Layla is the unequivocal la belle dame sans merci and best of all, she’s real. For those who didn’t spent entirely too much of your adolescence holed up in your bedroom, poring over rock biographies, let me crack an egg of wisdom here:
Eric Clapton and George Harrison of the Beatles were close friends. Clapton falls in love with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd and this song is born out of that torment. Eventually, Clapton and Boyd got together and he wrote the glurgey wedding staple Wonderful Tonight about her. They divorced in 1989 due to infidelity on both parts and Boyd will forever be known as the woman who inspired Layla, Wonderful Tonight and Harrison’s sublime Something. Looking at her, it’s not hard to see why these men were so enraptured.
Yeah. She’s the number one stunner.
Anyway, back to the song. You beg, you plead, she gets you on your knees and it still isn’t enough. Every night, she goes home to someone else and your heart feels like a cigarette butt being crushed into the pavement.
So, the question remains — what would you rather have? A crappy song singing your praises or a really good one condemning your very existence?
Seventeen-year-old Jaime would take the ego boost, but as we mentioned before — she’s a dummy.
Older, smarter Jaime (with the cuter hair) would take the vitriolic hit.
See, OSWTCH Jaime has a much better sense of self and understands that sweet nothings are a dime a dozen. Seriously, ladies. Walk into any bar in America wearing a pair of heels and a little mascara. Order a drink and within half an hour, some random dude will approach you to blow sunshine.
A passionate song, however? That’s a rarity. And I’m much rather claim culpability for a piece of great (albeit character assassinating) music than a track that’s going to lead to eye-rolling and the rapid-fire gulping of alcohol at weddings.
But hey, if Dave Grohl or Brian Fallon wanna whip out their pens and write a diabetic-coma inducing ditty about me, I’m OK with that and it’s spelled J-A-I-M-E.
I before M, guys.
Oh, what? I am large. I contain multitudes….as well as laminated list crushes on both men.