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The Soundtrack To Pagan Goddess Worship September 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Berkin in Music.
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I was listening to the new Donnas CD “Bitchin'” recently, giving it a second go-round since my first impression was not overly enthusiastic, and while the non-stop sequence of metal-influenced shout-along-with-the-chorus party anthems that populate its tracks are often catchy, I still prefer their earlier CDs The Donnas Turn 21 and Spend The Night, which managed to mix elements of punk with metal for a hard rocking melange of sound befitting the musical heirs of Joan Jett (whose most recent CD, Sinner, is among her best work).

I don’t possess the music theory vocabulary to accurately describe the difference I can hear in the chord progresions and arrangements that signify “metal guitar” and “punk rock guitar” to me, I just know it when I hear it – and Bitchin’ owes more to the influence of Def Leppard than to the Ramones, and my own tastes tend more towards the Ramones. Yet when the Donnas’ brand of party rock is fronted by the sassy-girl-turned-tough-woman vocals of Brett Anderson, I can deal with a song that follows a Motley Crue structure like “Who Invited You?” off of Spend The Night, or a song that borrows from Bon Scott-era AC/DC the way “Are You Gonna Move It For Me?” did off Turn 21. I pay more attention to the music than the lyrics with this band, since the lyrics usually boil down to “I wanna get laid, and I can anytime I want, so let’s go!” and this is unfortunately an ability I can only envy from a distance.

Take out your handkerchiefs and CRY FOR WAGSTAFF!

I’ll listen to it some more to see if it grows on me, as many CDs often do after repeated listenings, but I was reminded of something about myself when surfing over to The Donnas’ website and watching the video of the new single “Don’t Wait Up For Me,” (which cribs from Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” in its opening riffs, but then goes in a different direction). Not my favorite song on the album perhaps… but in watching the video and watching them perform it, I can’t help but fall under the spell of the potent combo of hard rockin’ sound and sexy young women producing that sound as their signature, as opposed to the hot-chick window dressing in rock videos by similar style male bands.

So much for rational thought – it all makes my will power turn to melted butter. It has more to do with the quality of the music than the sexiness of the women playing it, definitely… clearly why I don’t have the same reaction to the wailing dreck of The Pussycat Dolls or the tunes of any number of foxy hip-hop singers. The jaw dropping awe and fascination that can only be categorized as what Camille Paglia wrote about as “pagan Goddess worship” can only manifest itself when the music moves the soul along with the musician attracting the eye and filling the heart with ridiculously irrational fantasy.

Welcome to being a guy! Though the more I think about this, the more I can fully understand how a Pamela Des Barres and her galpals (sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon show, doesn’t it?) spent the better part of their lives as groupies. I remember seeing The Bangles live back in Providence, where the audience pretty much consisted of a bunch of slack-jawed goggle-eyed thunderstruck dweebs, myself included, staring up at the rock goddesses (at one point Vicky Peterson remarked “Do we even have any female fans here tonight?” with a laugh) and all thinking the same thing:

Please please please carry me backstage and pass me around like a rag-doll manslut

Pathetic, isn’t it? BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!!! The fever overtook me when watching Debbie Harry sing “Dreaming” on SNL years ago, in watching how the terminal cuteness of Jane Wiedlin only grew since she never stopped moving throughout the entirety of the Go Gos show, or watching Kate Smith sing “God Bless America”…

Okay, not Kate Smith. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And OMIGOD the Kate Smith society at the link is located in my home town of Cranston, Rhode Island!

Clearly, it’s DESTINY!!!!

Sorry, Donnas. I belong to Kate. And America.

Keep those handkerchiefs out and CRY FOR… oh never mind.

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