Henry Phillips: The Bitch Song (1995)

 |   |  1 min read

Henry Phillips: The Bitch Song (1995)

Not everything in life is serious and Henry Phillips takes a skewed view of the world. The title track of his album On the Shoulders of Freaks notes that all those great Greek philosophers "had a thing for little boys", that Katherine the Great enjoyed large animals, Hemingway put a bullet through his head, Salvador Dali's paintings were heaven sent even though he ate his own excrement, Truman Capote was intoxicated 20 hours a day . . . yes, we're standing on the shoulders of freaks.

I only ever saw Phillips perform once -- he opened for a howling funny show called Butt Pirates of The Caribbean in LA many, many years ago -- but I have never forgotten him. He looked so innocent as a singer-songwriter and could just have easily sung mopey stuff like so many of those in that city which gave us James, then many other, Taylors.

But he sang acerbic songs with a political or social twist, and he had wickedly funny punchlines or intros which sometimes sailed very close to being offensive (jokes about child brides aren't popular in politically correct LA).

Try this as an intro: "This is a song I wrote for a girl, it's kind of funny story because when I first met her she didn't speak a word of English and I didn't speak . . . you know, whatever language she spoke. But the sex was tremendous. Anyway this is a song I wrote for her on her 13th birthday . . ."

He tells a funny story about the guitar he is using: he borrowed it from a friend who was reluctant to lend it because it was so special, but finally he did and at a gig Phillips scratched it. He didn't know how to tell his friend, "but problems have a funny way of working themselves out. I got a call from his mom a couple of weeks later saying he had been killed in a car accident and . . . I'm like, 'Thank god!'" 

Or this: "I wrote this when I was driving. I don't know if you've ever had this happen, you hit a bump in the road . . . so I did and I look behind and there's like rabbit fur everywhere -- and the woman who had been wearing it was hobbling across the street . . ."

This was a particular favourite of mine -- and says so much about contemporary American girls you see so often on reality television shows. 

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Vera Lynn: Everybody's Talkin' (1970)

Vera Lynn: Everybody's Talkin' (1970)

Although knows as "the Forces' Sweeheart" for her songs during the Second World War, the great Vera Lynn subsequently had a successful career with hits in the Fifties and Sixties... > Read more

Max Bygraves: You’re a Pink Toothbrush (1959)

Max Bygraves: You’re a Pink Toothbrush (1959)

When George Harrison was interviewed for the Beatles’ Anthology he spoke about the songs he heard in his childhood which somehow influenced him, and the other Beatles. These days you... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Chisholm/Meehan/Dyne: Unwind (Rattle)

Chisholm/Meehan/Dyne: Unwind (Rattle)

Wellington pianist/author/teacher and composer Norman Meehan has appeared a few times at Elsewhere but bassist Paul Dyne, once a mainstay of New Zealand jazz in Sustenance during the Eighties... > Read more

HISTORY ACTUALLY REPEATS (2014): Rare, lost or out-of-print New Zealand music gets a second coming

HISTORY ACTUALLY REPEATS (2014): Rare, lost or out-of-print New Zealand music gets a second coming

This week I was invited to a function in Auckland hosted by recordedmusic.co.nz. The event -- at which Shona Laing and John Hanlon performed -- was entitled Tied to the Tracks, named after a... > Read more