Thin Lizzy, “The Rocker”
The prosody of Phil Lynott, Afro’d singer/bassist/lyricist for Irish proto-punkers Thin Lizzy, was a continuing miracle. The grace of the man’s line, his confidence with meter, has never been matched in the field of testosto-rock. “Down at the juke joint, me and the boys are stompin’/Bippin’ and boppin’ and telling a dirty joke or two/In walked this chick and I knew she was up to something/So I kissed her right there out of the blue . . .” “The Rocker” comes from early in the Lizzy catalogue, from 1973’s Vagabonds of the Western World, but the core Lynott preoccupations are already in evidence: a sort of lucid, freewheeling, Beatnik machismo, and a vision of male companionship — particularly when experienced in a “juke joint” or similar establishment — as Nirvana-on-Earth. We all need our “boys,” do we not?
Danzig, “Am I Demon”
This is a nice one to play before going out — while you’re rummaging in your closet for socks, scraping the stains off your trousers, and so on. Little concerned with growing, understanding, empathizing, or deepening his emotional availability as a man, the leather-jerkin’d and gauntleted Glenn Danzig is more interested in the possibility that he might actually be walking Devil spawn: “Am I beast or am I human?/Am I just like you? (Haha!)/Power seething/Really reeling/Reaching out for you!” From 1988’s Rick Rubin–produced Danzig, “Am I Demon” is a showcase for Glenn’s Orbisonian wolf-moan, as well as the phallic power blues of his then-new band. Howl it out, my Were-brother, as the hairs burst from your palms.
Kiss, “Lick It Up”
By the time I finally saw Kiss live, they were in their lunatic old age — wobbling on their heels, Paul Stanley flapping his tattered counter-tenor like a flag of surrender and little Peter Criss low-bosomed over the snare, wearing his cat-man facepaint as if he had absent-mindedly neglected to remove it. Enfeebled as they were, though, they played this one like gods. From the 1983 album of the same name, “Lick It Up” is the address of a randy minstrel to his reluctant lady. His cunning troubadourious tactic is to pretend that surrender will be good for her. “You’ve got to live like you’re on vacation!” he insists. “It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself!” It’s absurdly cheering. Day-Glo hedonism, hair-metal plod, and a minimal, eight-note guitar solo — works like Prozac!
Motorhead, “I’ll Be Your Sister”
Without presuming to offer instruction to a very professional and hard-bitten crew of ladies, I always thought this one would be a great song for a stripper. The rollicking, burlesque-friendly boom-boom-BAH beat, in combination with Lemmy’s uncharacteristically transgendered lyrics — “I’ll be your sister/Be your lover, yeah!/I’ll be your mother!” — make it a natural soundtrack for twirlings and juttings and disrobements and the rest of it. Killer bassline, too. As a man, I find that “I’ll Be Your Sister” (from 1979’s Overkill) soothes the tiny androgyne in me, the one who seeks union — to dissolve sexual difference, to merge with the beloved in a hermaphroditic blur, to blend, to bend, to transcend, to . . . well, that’s enough of that.