Thursday, April 30, 2009



I do agree with Jess Harvell: Bonzo Goes To Washington's legendary cut "5 Minutes" is a dud. This collaboration between Talking Heads utility man Jerry Harrison and bassist Bootsy Collins adds layers of gimmicky effects and porn slap bass reminiscent of "Seinfeld" to the infamous Ronald Reagan quip uttered before a radio show in 1984 ("We begin bombing [Russia] in five minutes"). Greil Marcus thought otherwise:
"[Reagan] rushes it because while this really is a joke -- you can hear people laughing in the background -- it is also unmistakably sexual. The lust in the passage is what makes it so terrifying. It's anything but unknown for soldiers to fuck the corpses of women killed in search-and-destroy missions; they're turned on by death. That, that exactly, is what you hear."
Certainly it's inferior to what Negativland did a few years later, or the whiskery, whispery need that Laurie Anderson injected into "O Superman" and other cuts from Big Science in 1982.

3 comments:

j. sot said...

Greil was right. also, Marsh's take--in his 1001 Singles book--is def worth reading. i like it plenty myself--mostly for how the perfunctory music just matter-of-factly goes about doing its business ("i was only following orders, see?"), like it's all just inevitable anyway ("what, me worry?"). but the star of this show is clearly Ronnie's near-breathless "performance". what a man!

smw said...

Not one of Marcus's better moments, in my view. Even at the time, with ears as impressionable as they were, I had to try *really* hard to hear anything close to what he did, and yeah, as you note, the funk is weak, not even remotely utilitarian.

smw said...

Also, "we being bombing in five minutes" is probably one of the only legitimately funny things I recall Reagan saying.