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Monday, February 14, 2011

Imponderables: Just in time for Valentine's!

QUESTION: When a man in a song refers to a "Soul Sister" isn't that by definition a black woman? Or is that only a "Soul Sistah"? If he is white and he talks about "brown skin", is he automatically talking about a tanned white woman? Or is he actually talking about a black woman?

Apropos of nothing, I was listening to Soul Sister by Train on Pandora and I went to the lyrics page (because that song both bugs me and I like it). I was irritating my friend while in FL last September with it. They had been killing it on the radio and I started to sing along all the while railing against the fact that they were calling who I presumed was a white girl "Soul Sister". I mean I like the song but that just drives me to distraction. I can’t make heads or tails of it. So I decided to look at their Pandora message board and someone said (between the complaints of it being overplayed on the radio –which of course I agree with), "I think they like the chocolate milk". (I’ve never heard us referred to as chocolate milk but okay...go with it). So in that moment, I decided- between the name and the reference in the middle to “the way you can cut a rug… so gangsta, I’m so thug”, that they were actually writing that song to a black girl (possibly unrequited) and their label made them put the blonde girl in the video. I have made the executive decision that that’s my interpretation. ‘Cuz it was driving me freekin’ insane.

Similarly, many moons ago I ignored an obvious reference to "brown skin" in Don Henley's Boys of Summer because despite that lyric, the video very clearly showed a blonde white girl frolicking in the surf. Mystery solved, right? But I have discovered this again recently in the song Still by Matt Nathanson (of whom I am a fan). He was singing that he could still see her "brown skin shine" and this time it was in a hotel room, not on a beach. Now, I'm sorry but very few tanned white women have brown skin, let alone "shining" brown skin in fluorescent lighting! What is this about, Nobody? C'mon Matt, is this an ode to interracial love gone wrong or are you confused about the melanin content of your average anglo-saxon female?

Ahh...Valentine's Day. A day better spent being overly analytical, bordering on curmudgeonly than a sad sack.

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