Thursday, June 2, 2011


Song Title: "Can't Make Love by Yourself"
Artist: John Kay & The Sparrow
Search Term: "Sparrow"

The Sparrow was a Canadian band who eventually turned into Steppenwolf and secured a place in the rock canon with "Born to Be Wild," arguably the very first heavy metal song and almost certainly the song most frequently deployed to accompany hilarious footage of infants wearing leather jackets and sunglasses. I never particularly begrudged Steppenwolf their success before, but this truly gross Beatles ripoff rather makes me wish they'd become persona non grata in the music industry after its release. Over a substandard approximation of a Rubber Soul arrangement, John Kay greasily pressures a young woman to put out: "Since you please me, why try to tease me?/'Cause, girl, I won't wait around/Why don't you do what I want to?/[Did not bother to write a final line for this verse]."

It would be one thing if there were any sense that Kay was overplaying his caveman sexual frustration to be intentionally off-putting (like The Litter's truly sinister "Action Woman" or Wall of Voodoo's amusingly desperate "Can't Make Love"), but it seems to me that The Sparrow expects the listener to sympathize with the narrator. In fact, the titular refrain is evidently intended as a total burn on this woman who has too much respect for her body to allow John Kay to smear his bony, mustachioed Canadian frame all over it, betraying an apparent belief that it is impossible for a woman to attain physical gratification without the presence of a man. So it's idiotic as well as appallingly insulting.

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