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November 04, 2003

Sociobiological Song Lyrics


I recently heard an old song by the Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” The lyrics of the song have always cracked me up, particularly those of the second verse:

I said, “Baby, baby, baby, why do you treat me this way?
I’m still your lover boy, I still feel the same way.”
She told me a story about free milk and a cow
She said “No hugging no kissing until I get a wedding vow.”
“My honey, my baby, don’t put my love upon no shelf.”
She said, “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.”

After the song was over, I tried to express to myself what it is about the song that I like. What I came up with was: “The song is just so…so…sociobiological.” (Hey, I was on my way to work, and not entirely awake.)

Well, my terminology may be infelicitous, but the idea of song lyrics that say something (pithily) about human nature stuck with me. Are there any you would nominate for pith, wit and insight?



P.S. I never knew a thing about the Georgia Satellites until I went looking for the lyrics to this song (which, by the way, appear incorrectly in most places on the Internet.) I found a very humorous profile of their artistic career which you can read here. It includes this priceless passage:

According to Baird, "The most gratifying and shameful moment of that whole experience [of stardom] was at the Indiana State Fair. Some woman came up to me and said, 'I love that "huggie-kissie" song you do. My two-year-old dances every time we see it on CMT.' I knew then that I had reached the lowest common denominator."

posted by Friedrich at November 4, 2003


Ever seen High Fidelity? John Cusack has a line about how people don't realize the impact music has on's precious.

Posted by: Courtney on November 4, 2003 6:29 PM

I always found Modonna's "Material Girl" to be very clever, and very sociobiological:

"Some boys kiss me
Some boys hug me
I think they're okay
If they don't give me proper credit
I just walk away

They can beg
And they can plead
But they can't see the light (that's right, that's right)
'Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mr. Right

'Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

Boys may come
And boys may go
And that's all right you see
Experience has made me rich
And now they're after me

'Cause everybody's living in a material world..."

Also, Todd Rundgren's "Something to Fall Back On"

"Remember when you were the talk of the town
And you didn't care if i was around
But still you kept me in the back of your head
Just like the teddy bear that you took to bed
I was only something to fall back on

And to wake up lonely is your deepest dread
So you stay connected by a tiny thread
Though you'd rather try for something else instead
When you need to find me i'm right behind you

I know i'm only
Something to fall back on

I don't know what makes me think i've the right
To tell you what is most important in life
But after all i guess i just don't care
And if you need me i will always be there
'cause when i just imagine how it will be
Then i guess it's something to fall back on,
Something to fall back on for me."

Posted by: annette on November 4, 2003 10:02 PM

Umm ... 'scuse my naivete, folks, but could someone please explain the difference between "sociobiological" and just plain "sexist"?

Thanx ...

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on November 4, 2003 11:16 PM

if madonna were a man, it would be sexist. i'm pretty sure that's the main difference.

Posted by: driverdave on November 5, 2003 3:46 AM


What's wrong with being sexy?

Posted by: Nigel Tuffnel on November 5, 2003 4:56 AM

Mr. Hulsey:

I shocked, shocked that you would go P.C. on me. A nice boy like you.

As for being sexist...are you really suggesting that conversations along the lines of the song lyrics don't take place, haven't taken place, like, say millions of times? I've had that conversation more than once.

And anyway, the girl gets the funniest line and additional points for straightforwardness. I'm certainly not criticizing her stance.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 5, 2003 6:27 AM

Boy everybody here scores points for missing THE POINT. Notice the last lines of "Material Girl." "Experience has made me rich, and now they're after me. Coz EVERYBODY's living in a material world." Experience has certainly made Madonna rich in the literal sense, and she is being quite clear-eyed that this will open her up to being pursued in the same way. See...EVERYBODY's living in a material world. You don't have to agree. But it's clever. And how would, if Madonna was a man, this be sexist, exactly?? Interesting that it's the men in the chain who commenting quite huffily about sexism.

Posted by: annette on November 5, 2003 9:54 AM

It wasn't God who made honky-tonk Angels... Can we all agree with Kitty Wells on that? Even though her song discusses elements of our frantic little lives that are not observed in other critters.

And, hey, Annette, I don't think having your producer paraphrase Anita Loos (while cutting the jokes) counts as Sociobiology. Not that I'm going along with Fried's conceit.

And, hey, you Fried, how does "Desperados Waiting for a Train," the later version by Guy Clark, fit into the soc-bio view of the limited male role in childcare?

(You can find the full lyrics - and tabs! - here:

Of course, the lively,
unrepentantly raunchy and good-time mood of the Satellites song says something about the nature of the beast.

Posted by: j.c. on November 5, 2003 10:02 AM


The Dixie Chicks song about how "Earl's gotta die" is sexist. Funny as all get out but sexist.

Posted by: Deb on November 5, 2003 10:49 AM

JC -- You're a Guy Clark fan? I dropped my copy of "Dublin Blues" into the CD machine just before reading your comment. Maybe later I'll listen to some Townes and some Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Should we spread the word about how great these guys are or keep it to ourselves? Another reason I'd make a lousy reviewer: I like keeping some of my pleasures to myself. Or at least to myself and a few buds.

FvB -- I wonder if it couldn't be said that all of pop music is a sociobiological thing. Or almost all. All the love songs, all the vamping and showing off, the seducing ... I was wondering the other day about something similar. Seems to me that pop's a little like porn -- either a given work does it for you (sinks its hooks into you) or it doesn't. A little shading and gray around the edges, but that seems to me semi-fair. Where with traditional culture (folk, high), I often find that the more I listen/look, the more I'll get out of it. I don't take to Mahler, for instance, but I've gotten something worthwhile out of wrestling with his music. I could listen to, I dunno, some pop album forever and never get very far beyond my initial reaction. The Wife helpfully says that may be because there's real intellectual interest in the Mahler -- you can access what's going on there via the intellect and engage on several levels at once, where pop music is hooky: it snags you or it doesn't, and it certainly ain't doing much intellectually. I think that's a good point. Somehow though I've got to account for folk culture, which I also find I get more out of (generally speaking, exceptions allowed for, etc) the more I understand it. Thoughts from anyone here?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 5, 2003 11:08 AM

Michael Blowhard:

I grant you all of that. But are you suggesting that nobody ever wrote a telling lyric in this debased popular art form?

How about this gem from "Too Much" by Lee Rosenberg & Bernard Weinman:

I love to hear you sighin'
Even though I know you're lyin'
'Cause I love you...too much

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 5, 2003 12:56 PM

Fried - pop music is just a wave, it's not the water...

Posted by: j.c. on November 5, 2003 1:17 PM

FvB -- Heavens no, great stuff. I was just wandering off topic.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 5, 2003 2:00 PM

Knew there was some reason what you guys write clicks. Now it makes sense. Most acquaintances stare blankly when I mention Guy Clark, let alone Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Poor souls.

"One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain, one man’s loss is another man’s gain....

One man’s right is another man’s wrong, one man’s curse is another man’s song...."

Posted by: Kari on November 5, 2003 2:52 PM

if madonna were a man, it would be sexist. i'm pretty sure that's the main difference.

So this Georgia Satellites song would be sexist, while Britney Spears's "I'm a Slave for You" would not be?

BTW, I'm not trying to be pc here. It just seems to me that we might be using a 50-cent word to describe a half-penny phenomenon. I like the Dixie Chicks, too, but haven't heard the "Earl's Gotta Die" song.

(I should add that most women I know don't behave quite like the one in the Georgia Satellites song. Must be one of those generational things ...)

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on November 5, 2003 3:26 PM

I recently added a Georgia Satellites reunion concert here in Atlanta, and there were people who came all the way from England (England!) to listen to them. So they still have some hardcore fans, too.

Posted by: Chris on November 5, 2003 5:56 PM

"Sexist" would seem to mean tending to denigrate a person on account of their sex. By "sociobiological", I believe FvB is implying "tending to illuminate the ways in which male and female humans tend to think in different ways due to their biology, which was shaped by evolutionary pressures".

Posted by: jimbo on November 5, 2003 6:40 PM

I was listening to the radio in the car today, and I heard a good one, from a band called Bowling For Soup, called "The Girl all the Bad Guys Want":

8 o'clock, Monday night and I'm waitin'
To finally talk to a girl a little cooler than me.
Her name is Nona, she's a rocker with a nose ring,
She wears a two way, but I'm not quite sure what that means.

And when she walks,
All the wind blows and the angels sing.
She doesn't notice me!

Cause she is watchin' wrestling
Creamin' over tough guys
Listenin' to rap metal
Turntables in her eyes

It's like a bad movie
She is lookin' through me
If you were me, then you'd be
Screamin' "Someone shoot me!"
As I fail miserably,
Tryin' to get the girl all the bad guys want.
She's the girl all the bad guys want!

She likes the godsmack and I like agent orange
Her cd changer's full of singers that are mad at their dad
She says she'd like to score some reefer and a forty
She'll never know that I'm the best that she'll never have

And when she walks,
All the wind blows and the angels sing.
She'll never notice me!

Cause she is watchin' wrestling
Creamin' over tough guys
Listenin' to rap metal
Turntables in her eyes

She likes 'em with a mustache
Racetrack season pass
Drivin' in a Trans-Am
Does a mullet make a man?

It's like a bad movie
She is lookin' through me
If you were me, then you'd be
Screamin' "Someone shoot me!"
As I fail miserably,
Tryin' to get the girl all the bad guys want.
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!

There she goes again
With fishnets on, and dreadlocks in her hair
She broke my heart, I wanna be sedated
All I wanted was to see her naked!

Now I am watchin' wrestling
Tryin' to be a tough guy
Listenin' to rap metal
Turntables in my eyes
I can't grow a mustache
And I ain't got no season pass
All I got's a moped...moped....moped.....

It's like a bad movie
She is lookin' through me
If you were me, then you'd be
Screamin' "Someone shoot me!"
As I fail miserably,
Tryin' to get the girl all the bad guys want.

She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
(There she goes again)
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
(There she goes again)
She's the girl all the bad guys want!
She's the girl all the bad guys want!

Posted by: jimbo on November 5, 2003 10:03 PM

It's a masterpiece!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 5, 2003 11:22 PM

Yeah, and if our testosterone addled whiner gets his huggy-kissy, what's his peach's payback?


Don't say one thing one day,
then something else the next day.
I'm trying to keep up with you
- it's hard enough when you speak clearly,
but when you're confused,
it's like a goods train running through these rooms.

And I'm reading more into your words than you have put into them,
and that's my problem, but you tied these knots, now you undo them.
You undo them.
Oh and think before you speak my darling.

Cause with your troubled mind,
you're like a goods train running through my life.

We all walk through this world alone,
we keep ourselves untouched, unknown.
You look up to the sky above you,
read this there - I love you.
Oh it's written there,
you know I love you, love you, love you.

But with your troubled mind,
you're like a goods train running through my life.

And when you're down,
you bring me down too,
and babe that's something I would not do.
I know it's hard, yeah I know it's hard,
and baby that's something I don't disregard.

But with your troubled mind,
you're like a goods train running through my life.


[huffy male] Tell it sister! [end huffy male]

Great post topic. But really, Annette's Madonna post outed my guilty pleasure: 70s syrup.


Flyin' me back to Memphis
Gotta find my Daisy Jane
well the summer's gone
and I hope she's feelin' the same
Well I left her just to roam the city
Thinkin' it would ease the pain
I'm a crazy man and I'm playin' my crazy game, game



Posted by: fouro on November 6, 2003 3:48 AM

Hmm...can we lose the term "sociobiological"? After almost three decades, I still haven't recovered from the brilliant demolition of "sociobiology" at my really terrific non-Ivy college on the south side of Chicago. (In a nanonutshell: biology (and even physics, for that matter) may set the limits of what we can and can't do, but within those limits it's culture--in the language community/symbol/meaning sense, not the high-art sense--that presents us with an organized subset of choices and actions that "make sense", from among the almost infinite variety of possibilities available within biological/physical limitations.) How does "anthropological" or "ethnographical" work as an alternative?

But since you were seeking out lyrics, after all:
"He makes friends easy, he's not like me/
I watch for judgment anxiously/
Now where in this city can that boy be?
Waiting for a car--climbin', climbin', climbin' the hill."

Or just about anything else from the Joni Mitchell "Court and Spark"/"Blue" era oeuvre.

Posted by: Chan S. on November 6, 2003 2:29 PM

Chan -- Your view of sociobiology's actually pretty close to mine (Friedrich's may be a little more hardcore, I'm not sure). But if you were to go back as far as I do, you'd have lived through a period when even what you say (that biology supplies limits, oomph and guidance) simply couldn't be said. It wasn't allowed. You'd have been castigated and ridden out of town coated in tar and feathers. So, to me, what you were told and what you're passing along isn't a demolition of sociobiology, it's a vindication of it. From my point of view, thank god that even people who aren't enthusiastic about sociobiology are now allowing for the fact that genes and biochemistry get you in the ballpark even if it's quite possible that they don't completely determine how the game's played or how it turns out. Like I say, 'way back when, at least in our neck of the woods, such a thing, modest as it is, couldn't even be asserted. Everything -- and I mean everything -- was held to have been culturally determined. Come to think of it, the cultural determinists of that era were much more asbolutist and strict -- much more deterministic -- about the deciding influence of culture than I'd ever be about sociobiology ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 6, 2003 3:48 PM

I now take this opportunity to make this observation about 2 year olds.

There is much to be said for the benefits of being utterly unable to understand a subject.

Or, "Don't tell anybody about the bug in your drink, they'll want one."

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on November 6, 2003 11:14 PM

What the heck, here's a sociobiological song. Lyrics by Bernard Taupin

Raised to be a lady by the golden rule,
Alice was the spawn of a public school,
With a double-barreled name in the back of her brain,
And a simple case of 'mummy doesn't love me' blues.

Reality it seems was just a dream,
She couldn't get it on with the boys on the scene,
But what do you expect from a chick who's just sixteen,
And hey, hey hey (echoed) you know what I mean.

All the young girls love Alice,
Tender young Alice they say,
Come over and see me,
Come over and please me,
Alice, it's my turn today.

All the young girls love Alice,
Tender young Alice they say,
If I give you me number,
Will you promise to call me,
Wait till my husband's away

Poor little darling with a chip out of her heart,
It's like acting in a movie when you've got the wrong part,
Getting your kicks in another girl's bed,
And it was only last Tuesday Oh, they found you in the subway dead.

And who could you call your friends down in SoHo,
One or two middle-aged dykes in a gogo,
And what do you expect from a sixteen year old yoyo,
And hey, hey, hey (echo) Lord don't you know.

[repeat chorus]

"All the Young Girls Love Alice" Librettest: Bernard Taupin, Composer: Reginald Dwight.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on November 6, 2003 11:24 PM

Michael: whoosh! Nothing like a trip through the way-back machine to make you feel like a girl again (to quote another sociobiological song). In any case--three cheers for (academic) evolution.

Posted by: Chan S. on November 7, 2003 8:14 AM

Ya think the Georgia Satellites wouldn't be thrilled to know there are 25 people talking about them still?

For the Guy Clark/TVZ/Jimmie Dale lovers out there, get over to Jack Spark's joint:
He actually reviews shows and albums, talks about the scene, and he can write up a storm. Excellent Outlaw stuff.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on November 7, 2003 10:17 AM

Excellent, thanks Scott, I'm heading right over. Outlaw country rules.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 7, 2003 10:42 AM

By some strange serendipitous coincidence, the video that goes with that song by the Georgia Satellites was just released on DVD (on Essential Music Videos - Hits of the '80s), where I saw it for the first time. It may (or may not) be relevant to the sociobiological aspect that the video ends with the literally depicted shotgun wedding of the lead singer and his very pregnant girlfriend.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on November 7, 2003 2:59 PM

Good god, who knew there was such interest in the Georgia Satellites? One of these days I'll have to listen to them myself.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 7, 2003 3:09 PM

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