Saturday, December 22, 2007

Island Girl

In these would-be enlightened times, it's pretty common to see any mention of race in popular music or films or anything being decried as racist, as if mere acknowledgment deserves condemnation. The racist charge has often been levied against this, the first single from Rock of the Westies, but honestly I don't see it. If Bernie's guilty of anything, it's a slight air of condescension in the tone of his appraisal of the Jamaican prostitute whom he feels could and should be doing better things with her life, and the boyfriend she left behind who tells us all about her.

Elton affects a faux Jamaican accent as he sings, and combined with Bernie's attempts to imitate the patois, that practically guarantees that this will always remain on those "frequently misheard lyrics" lists that pop up here and there. The accompaniment mostly consists of James Newton Howard playing a lot of synths, some set to approximate steel drums, and the rhythm section of the post-Dee/Nigel band. Even though it was quite atypical for radio at the time, it's very catchy and wound up being a huge hit, despite its somewhat risque lyrical content.

1 comment:

thom de plume said...

The beginning of the end...