Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HateSong: Dylan Roahrig On Great White's "Once Bitten Twice Shy"

My good buddy Dylan hipped me to an excellent A.V. Club feature called "HateSong", wherein various celebrities are asked about the songs they hate the most.  It's extremely entertaining - start with Robyn Hitchcock's disembowelment of Christopher Cross's "Arthur's Theme".  Since Dylan is a helluva writer (among other things) I asked him to do a guest spot about the song he hates the most.  He chose Great White's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy".

  "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," as performed by Great White.  Having not heard the Ian Hunter original, so I can not compare it to that.  As a stand alone song the Great White version embodies for me Rock and Roll at its most mundane.  It is almost hateful in its disdain for our intellect.
  Let's start with the arrangement.  Opening with the standard bass beat\snare beat intro which will be sure to pump the concert crowd into a frenzy.  It is effective.  Especially, when your core audience is out of their head on ditchweed and Bud Light.  In comes the honky tonk piano riff and we are off and to the races with Cliche taking the lead, but here comes Def Leppard-Harmonizing-On-The-Chorus in the backstretch!  Who will win?  Oh, it is Let's-Play-A-Scale-And-Call-It-A-Guitar-Solo by a nose.

Lyrically it is just a mess.  In short, a groupie screws everyone in the lead singer's band, road crew, extended family, Facebook friends list and eventually a record producer, I think.  It is littered with music and rock analogies too puerile for even the least accomplished of junior high school poets.  "You didn't know what rock and roll was, until you *insert sleeping with type of band member here.*"  Oh, how very droll.  And, of course, there is the requisite mention of the preferred model of instrument: "Woman you're a mess going to die in your sleep\There's blood on my amp and my Les Paul's beat."  Wait... is that another metaphor?  Oh, who gives a shit?

Finally, there is the video.  Just imagine every hair band video ever made.  Got them?  Good.  Now, imagine feeding them all to a human centipede.  What eventually comes out of the unlucky caboose's caboose is what this video looks like.  A tepid amalgamation of the hopelessly banal filtered through the colons of corporate stooges.  There is nothing stimulating, interesting, arousing or even slightly noticeable by the end of it.
Final analysis: This song would often come on the auto-play of the jukebox in the Pizza Hut I frequented in high school.

It was the first time I truly recognized institutional rock.  I was 16, and I think that it informed much of my musical taste from that point on.  I suppose I should thank the members of Great White for being such a fantastic object lesson for me, but aren't they all in prison for murdering their entire fan-base in a bar fire?  No?  They should be.  Fuck them and the lawyer who got them out of that.
Close second: "We Built this City (On Rock and Roll)" by Starship.  Oof, that's a turd that dropped from the Human Centipede 2.  (That was the one with loads more people on the ass-to-mouth train.)


  1. great idea for a post. I'd be happy to write an essay on why I hate Huey Lewis tunes but since I'm not a musician it wouldn't carry much credibility. Glad you are still writing.