Wasted Life

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I spent many hours in solitude last weekend, painting our new house before we move in this Saturday. Alone with nothing but your thoughts, you can't help but admit how much of your life you've squandered when you find yourself asking, "Was Chastity Bono on the first or second season of 'Celebrity Fit Club'?" Sadly, the answer was the third season, confronting me with not only the fact that I'd watched at least three full seasons of that show, but also the embarrassment of having a government database somewhere forever knowing I Googled "chastity bono fit club" to get the answer.

I also spent a good amount of time overanalyzing the lyrics to Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" I came to the conclusion that while Bo may have been an accomplished guitarist, lyrics were not his strong suit.

I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
I use a cobra-snake for a necktie,


Why would someone fashion a cobra into a necktie? I don't normally expect someone who walks through 47 miles of barbed wire to dress so formally, and if someone is so committed to formal attire, I don't expect him to grab a cobra, wrap it around his neck, and call it a tie.

I got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,


We're four lines into the song and Bo has mentioned dead snakes twice. And how many rattlesnakes do you have to kill to build an entire house from their hides? Even if you assume the plumbing and internal structure are not constructed of rattlesnake hides fused together, just making one wall would require hundreds of snake skins.

I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,


Let's try to overlook that Bo used the word "made" twice within a span of four words because that's the least worrisome part of this verse. Imagine watching a movie in which a character lives in a roadside house made from rattlesnake hides with a human skull puffing smoke atop it. What kind of character would that be? The kind that makes Leatherface poop in his pants and walk quickly in the other direction?

Now come on take a walk with me, honey,
And tell me, who do you love?

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?


How did the story of the psychopath living by the roadside become a love ballad? It's as though some A&R guy said, "Bo, this album is great, but what you need is a love song to really tie it all together."

To which Bo replied, "Love song, eh? Well, I sure do hate snakes..."

Tombstone hand and a graveyard mind,
Just 22 and I don't mind dying.


Bo's stared down his own mortality and accepts the life is fragile. One minute you're walking through nearly fifty miles of barbed wire while hunting snakes to build your house, the next, you're dead and your skull is perched on someone's roof warding off visitors.

Either that or he has one hand that's calcified into a granite-like mass and a mental condition that won't allow him to think of anything other than graveyards. In which case, he probably not only doesn't mind dying, but embraces the sweet release death will grant him from this hell on earth he endures.

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

I rode around the town, use a rattlesnake whip,


Again with the dead snakes!

Take it easy, honey. Don't you give me no lip,

What love song about a obsessive, snake-hating sociopath would be complete without veiled (or not-so-veiled) threats of domestic violence? Don't give him any lip, woman! The man wearing a dead snake tied around his throat just told you he has a whip! Why would you sass him?

Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Night was dark, but the sky was blue,
Down the alley, the ice-wagon flew,
Hit a bump, and somebody screamed,
You should have heard just what I seen.


At this point, it's as though Bo forgot all about his character study in snake-hating and decided to relate a story about a car accident he witnessed. It's as though he was telling one story and something in it reminded him of something else he'd meant to bring up. It's like if you're talking about the time you ordered pizza and then realized you had no cash and were going to have to pay the delivery guy all in coins from the huge change jar in your dad's room, but the mere mention of pizza reminded you of the kid in your fifth grade class who was deathly allergic to tomatoes so every time you had a class pizza party someone had to volunteer to share a sauceless pizza with him.

To you, the transition makes complete sense, but the listener just hears, "The guy was just shoving fists full of quarters and dimes into him little apron with this deep sigh. So anyway, if you get enough other toppings, you don't even miss the sauce."

The strangest part of that verse is that Bo laments that we couldn't hear what he saw. The inherent problem there being that visual stimuli can't be interpreted by ears. The only way I can think for someone to hear what someone else is seeing would be if the observer related the visions in words somehow. Perhaps in a song?

2 sarcastic replies:

Guinnevere said...

i get the idea maybe you were being sarcastic but it had a lot to do with voodoo...?

Robert H. said...

Your words made me laugh out loud ... well done.

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