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“That Rock Album Stole My (Other) Gal”


Something hit me the other night when I was driving home from work listening to Morphine’s album Cure for Pain. It happened, in particular, when Mark Sandman made reference to no less than his THIRD explicated woman within the same album (“Sheila”; to “Candy” and “Mary”) — that type of thing is really rare. It’s like hair metal, actually — empty, jock-like womanizing the result of too much drugs and privilege and not enough actual artistic inspiration. Indeed, I think, rock and roll, when it’s good, is an entity subservient to our fairer half, in a sense, seeing as much of it’s dedicated directly thereto. That is, it’s far more common to find a rock song declaring its love for a female than it is a heterosexual lady professing an adoration for Soundgarden [1].

The only other example I could think of in history of one rock LP featuring references to multiple different women was The Allman Brothers Band’s “Melissa” and “Jessica,” me of course realizing quickly that they only shared the greatest hits album, coming originally from Eat a Peach and Brothers and Sisters, respectively. Morphine PULLS OFF such co-ed multiplicity, I think all would agree, and regarding questions of why I’d say it has to do with the thick, bulbous amount of, well, PAIN pervading much of the rest of the album, an emotional malady that seems almost preternaturally invitiated by that incessant, sensous saxophone of Dana Colley’s that floods all these tracks. Particularly, the poignant, heartbreaking centerpiece seems “In Spite of Me” seems to say it all: “For a long time I thought that you’d be coming back to me / Those kind (sic) of thoughts can be so cruel”. It was once said of Kurt Cobain’s visual art work that “He painted the things he feared.” You could say something similar about Mark Sandman’s lyrical exploits, with one complicating wrinkle, which would be the apparent, governing rule of your fears and desires inevitably melding themselves into one, muse-feeding whole. Sandman collapsed in fatal cardiac arrest on stage in Italy in July, 1999, according to Wikipedia. Cure for Pain is generally held as the best LP of his band Morphine, with its followup Yes offering the successful single “Honey White,” which would in similar fashion to Cure for Pain make heavy, spotlighted use of melody-grabbing saxophone.  

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[1] Though we did meet these pretty rad dykes in downtown Indianapolis one time doing just that, which was a pretty unforgettable experience.

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