I Do the Rock
This year’s YouTube song of choice for the dead of winter is Tim Curry’s 1979 single I Do the Rock. ‘Well, it’s stimulating!’
Curry most recently trod the boards of Broadway in ‘Spamalot!’ Anyone with midnight cinema credentials and a hash-fogged mind may vaguely recall him in ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ He had a bigger role than Meatloaf.
‘Rodney’s feeling sexy/Mick is really frightfully bold.’ The official video is a gleeful send-up and arch parody of the skinny, preening front man archetype. Curry as Jagger through the looking glass of Joel Grey’s charismatic ‘Cabaret’ emcee, old chum. It’s a bouncy and infectious ditty punctuated by bursts of sax that absolutely compels awkward white men to dance around the house as if they still inhabited bodies lithe enough to encase in sausage casing jumpsuits.
‘John and Yoko farming beef/Raising protein quota/Sometimes they make love and art/Inside the Dakota.’ Curry affects an absurdly ersatz island patois. The choppy and delightful delivery is essential, especially when the lyric demands rhyming ‘Castro’ with ‘disastro.’ No one has ever rocked and rolled a better R than Tim Curry.
I Do the Rock was a cynical and cheery wink-wink survey of the political and cultural landscape as it existed in 1979. Some of the references are long past their best before dates. Those world players are either demented or dead. But nothing truly fades away anymore because of the Internet and sites such as YouTube. So, classic literary allusions aside, naming TV’s three original Charlie’s Angels isn’t such a vexing obscurity to a new listener. (The Farrah hair flip in the video is MasterCard squared – hilariously priceless.) Meanwhile, O.J. didn’t just disappear after leaping that heap of luggage in the Hertz commercial, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones are still performing, Queen Elizabeth II remains perched upon her throne and Jerry Brown is the governor of California again. Our lowest common denominator obsession with fame and the famous has only grown. The more things change…
Our world today is a shrill and discordant place populated by petty activists, entrenched ideologues, cause marketers, activist investors, and populist, zealot demagogues who refuse to absorb the lessons of our centuries of tragic history. What can a poor boy do?
‘Me, I do only thing that still makes sense to me.’
‘Me, I do the only thing that stops me growing old.’
‘But I’m afraid philosophy is just too much responsibility for me.’
‘I could never get the hang of ideology.’
‘I do the rock! It’s stimulating! I’m a keen student!’