You sure about that, Alice?

So Robert the probably-a-philodendron is back in his spot by the patio door and looking a little perkier than last week, though he still doesn’t seem to be in the pink, or green, of health, exactly. I am considering moving him and his potmate (there is a sort of vaguely sinister ivy-like arrangement that shares his space) to a new, larger pot, as suggested by commenter Maggie McT, but I’m afraid doing something so drastic may risk Robert’s health further, given that I am pretty much a menace to all things botanical. It’s a tricky balance.

And of course getting Robert into a new home means venturing over the river to Bullhead City and into the wilds of Lowe’s or Home Depot or Wal-Mart. The problem with that being that they are all flippin’ enormous; land and life are cheap in the desert, and any trek into one or another of the “superstores” over there should come with the option of a train of camels and a Bedouin guide. The very prospect is exhausting — I’d almost rather get hold of a wheel and learn to throw Robert a new pot myself.

But we do have a topic of the moment, which is to say, pretty decent songs with bad, creepy, or off-putting titles. And here’s a master of the creepy or off-putting, and an artist for whom we have a particular fondness at WMMCM:

Bleeding e-mail link.

In 1975, Alice Cooper was as big a star as he’d ever be. He’d cut loose from the band a few years before, when those hardened rock ‘n’ rollers got tired of his baroque approach to showmanship, and Alice, who was always an engaging personality and a charming interview subject, was firmly in the mainstream. The Welcome to My Nightmare concept album drew a lot of attention, and even got him a network TV special in the spring of ’75. And “Only Women Bleed,” the single, was a hit — 12 in the U.S. and number one in Canada under the less ghoulish name of “Only Women.” As I recall, L.A. radio stations back-announced it with the shortened title as well.

It’s an earnest record, if somewhat melodramatically produced, but the title is problematic. It immediately brought, shall we say, cyclical thoughts to mind — if you are foolish enough to venture into the YouTube comments (absolutely never a good idea at any time), you will see the problem, and it is the very problem that arose the day the song came out. The title also led to some discussion because, whether intended literally or metaphorically, the contention it makes is patently not true.

But anyway, this is Alice singing about a woman who feels trapped with a violent man:

She spends her life through
Pleasing up her man
She feeds him dinner,
Or anything she can
She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all
Only women bleed

The song was understood at the time, and was no doubt meant, as an earnest indictment of domestic abuse. But this is Alice Cooper, and there is a suggestion, in the lyrics “You live and love in pain” and in the bridge:

Black eyes all of the time,
Don’t spend a dime,
Clean up this grime,
And you there down on your knees
Begging him, please, come
Watch me bleed

That this victimized woman has become a helpless and needy woman as well.

The record is far too long at nearly six minutes — a long instrumental break allowed for stage business — and it’s only a middling vocal, given that Alice was always more of a belter than a balladeer. But domestic violence was a topic not much addressed in pop culture at all at the time, and perhaps this song brought some useful attention.

About Bridey

Bridey has been a music nut since falling in love with Elton John's "Caribou" album in grade school (why that one? I was nine). She's a magazine editor by trade who writes regularly about radio, music, and related industries.
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