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

The Checkmates: Love is All I Have to Give (1969)

The Checkmates: Love is All I Have to Give (1969)

It is widely believed that crazy Phil Spector "retired" from pop production in '66 because he had been broken by Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep Mountain High -- what he considered his... > Read more

The Nomads: Five Years Ahead of My Time (1983)

The Nomads: Five Years Ahead of My Time (1983)

Formed in 1981 (and still going today with two original members) Sweden's Nomads were considered garage punks and this track appears on a collection entitled A Real Cool Time Revisited; Swedish... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

Recently I was asked if I would contribute a page to a monthly magazine on famous musicians I had met. That part was easy, I've met quite a few. But then the person said they would like to run the... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Paul Kean of the Bats

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Paul Kean of the Bats

Standing next to Flying Nun founder one night at the Gluepot in about 1990 and the Bats are playing. The place is packed and jumping to the band's melodic guitar jangle where one song merges into... > Read more