Monday, May 28, 2007

It's all in the delivery

It is all in the delivery isn't it. Sometimes, all it takes is the perfect actor to bring a role to life. A certain intensity, a certain presence. Sometimes it takes a special person to bring a message to the masses. All the world's top academics could talk till the cows come home, but it's that one person with the drive and conviction and charisma to make the world sit up.

Imagine some of the greatest movie performances of all time, and try to imagine anyone else in that role. Sometimes, something that seems to inspiring and convincing seems insipid or even laughable when presented by someone else. Imagine if it was Derek Zoolander who had delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech instead of Martin Luther King.

And so it was, that I heard Ben Harper's version of Sexual Healing.

Don't get me wrong. I like Ben Harper. His She's Only Happy In The Sun is one of my favourite songs. His Excuse Me Mr. is songwriting gold. But his version of Sexual Healing freaked me out.

It was too earnest, too emotive, too...needy.

When Marvin Gaye sang the original version, it was basically a horny song. It was like Barry White's songs. Blatantly sexual with an energetic vibe and innately tongue in cheek almost, it's apparently what couples have been making love to in the last decade or two.

but that's exactly it. Because of it's very nature and delivery, it inspired lots of spoofs (Owen Wilson comes to mind as one of many) and kept that funny, blatantly horny but energetic vibe. I mean, when I hear it in the background, if I'm feeling silly, I do have a tendency to get up and over-enact the words with scrunched up eyes and lots of falsettos and balled up fists with angst-ridden emphasis.

Ben Harper on the other hand, has taken the total opposite tack. Sometimes it works (Tori Amos singing Stan, Basement Jaxx's Romeo in acoustic, Baz Lhurmann's treatment of The Police's Roxanne), sometimes it doesn't.

Has anyone heard the lyrics? Carried out with such insouciance by Mr. Gaye, it suddenly seems creepy stalker guy who lived down the hall and wrote bad poetry when sung by Ben Harper. It seems, needy...creepy.

Read some of the lyrics without prejudice and tell me it won't sound creepy if sung by some balladeer.

And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual Healing baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me

Whenever blue tear drops are falling
And my emotional stability is leaving me
There is something I can do
I can get on the telephone and call you up baby, and
Honey I know you'll be there to relieve me
The love you give to me will free me
If you don't know the things you're dealing
I can tell you, darling, that it's Sexual Healing

Baby I got sick this morning
A sea was storming inside of me
Baby I think I'm capsizing
The waves are rising and rising
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it's such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it's good for us

Sexual Healing, baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me
And it's good for me and it's good to me
My baby ohhh
Come take control, just grab a hold
Of my body and mind soon we'll be making it
Honey, oh we're feeling fine
You're my medicine open up and let me in
Darling, you're so great
I can't wait for you to operate
I can't wait for you to operate
When I get this feeling, I need Sexual Healing


Listening to: Propellerheads ft. Shirley Bassey - Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

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