More Than Words – Why I Can’t Stand What Used To Be One Of My Favourite Songs
If you’re not familiar with it, the above video is for the unexpectedly romantic pseudo-ballad by 1980s rockers Extreme. It’s the most atmospherically evil song ever written. It makes “War Pigs” seem like “A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down”. Well, it does if you listen to it carefully enough.
When it was released, it came as something of a surprise to fans of the band due to their previous output of cock rock, hair metal. The fans thought that Extreme had sold out, that they weren’t “Rock” anymore. In fact, quite the opposite had happened. Extreme had not only become more “Rock”, they had passed through “Rock” and into “creepy and sinister”. If you examine the lyrics carefully, the song is not romantic no matter how heart-felt the manner it appears to be sung in, it is definitely creepy and sinister.
When this song came out, way back in 1990, I loved it. My girlfriend at the time loved it too. It became “our song”. It perfectly expressed how we felt about each other. The thing is though, the way we felt about each other was mainly expressed in the form of animalistic rutting. We were smugly proud of the quality of our animalistic rutting. We thought it symbolized how much in love we were.
The obvious truth, however – obvious to everyone except us that is – was that most of the time, we fucking hated each other. Except when we were fucking, and there was more than enough of that going on to distract us from the fact that we didn’t really like each other very much. On a good day we didn’t like each other very much. On a bad day, we made spirited but unrealistic attempts to kill each other. This isn’t exceptional. Many a bad relationship has gone on way longer than it should have done because of hatred spilling over into prolonged and angry hardcore screwing.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that “More Than Words” by Extreme is creepy and evil, but not because it reminds me of my mental ex-girlfriend. She wasn’t mental, for one thing. She was a perfectly sweet young lady. We were just one of those couples who were lovely human beings when we weren’t together. When we were together, it was like a supervillain was aiming some sort crazy ray at us. A crazy ray that gave her nymphomania and inflicted priapism on me. You’ve probably all been there at some time or another.
No, what makes the song evil and creepy is, as I’ve already stated, the lyrics. They sound very smoochy and romantic until you consider the tense it’s written in. When I consider that, my inner pedant comes racing to the surface. Not that my inner pedant is terribly well concealed. As inner pedant’s go, he’s not exactly a Ninja.
The tense that the song is written in is all speculative. Well actually, as far as tense goes, the song is all over the bloody place, but the relevant parts a speculative. “You wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ‘cause I’d already know”. This can only mean that “More Than Words” – and we all know what that is – hasn’t happened yet for the young man singing the song. In other words, this young man is trying to convince his young lady to fuck him. In fact, he’s emotionally blackmailing her into fucking him. “What would you say if I took those words away/Then you couldn’t make things new/Just by saying I Love you”. Don’t know what that says to you, but to me it says “Fuck me or I’ll dump you”. Wonder how many unplanned teenage pregnancies this song was responsible for in the early 90s?
Mind you, Extreme aren’t the only musicians guilty of this sort of thing. When Ronan Keating sang “You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All”, what was he actually singing about? Well there are only three occasions when women say nothing at all, if you don’t count them being dead.
Firstly, there’s when they are asleep. This was supposed to be a romantic song, so he couldn’t have meant that. I don’t think he was implying that a girl cuts to the core of a relationship by drooling, snoring and the occasional nocturnal fart. So we can count out sleeping.
The second time a girl says nothing at all is when you’re both at home and she’s really pissed off at you. Again, I hardly think Mr Keating was saying that a girl best expresses her love for you by transmitting a frosty silence, sniffing haughtily every so often and glaring at you when she thinks you’re not looking.
The third occasion when a girl says nothing at all is when she’s giving you a blowjob. That’s got to be what he was talking about. He did miss the mark as far as romance goes if he was. Don’t get me wrong, a blowjob is a wonderful expression of the esteem a lady holds her man in. It’s not romantic though. I’ve never heard a woman say “I gave him a lovely romantic blowjob last night”. The phrase “intimate candlelit blowjob” has yet to establish regular use in the English Language, though perhaps it’s time it did.
Perhaps it’s also time that songwriters thought more carefully about their lyrics. Though there is an outside chance that I’m just a sex obsessed middle aged man who reads fucking and blowjobs into every song he hears. My inner pedant is telling me that is probably a more likely explanation.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014