It was the end of the semester (as it is now) when Lauren gave me that discs of songs, in 2007, and today’s song was the lead-off song on that disc, so I associate it with this time of year. It was a hot tune, then, the Top 40 single off Return to Cookie Mountain (2006), and my introduction to TV on the Radio. Brooklyn-based band makes good.
The song became for me kinda the song of the summer. It just suited something in the air, I guess. What’s more, I gave the song to my goddaughter, Anna, who was 17 that summer. The song, which is ostensibly about turning into a werewolf, seemed to me to make that transformation analogous to what happens to your hormones around about 16-18, or so. “My mind has changed / My body’s frame / But God I like it.” Which I used to hear as “My body’s strange”—which is one way of expressing what happens on that trail from teens to adults. And even that idea of “Baby doll, I recognize / You’re a hideous thing inside / If there ever was a lucky kind / It’s you you you.” The “hideous thing” is the monster within, I guess, but it’s also a way of allowing that, well, something makes you want it and something makes you get it.
The pace of the song races along like a pounding heart experiencing blood-lust, or just plain lust-lust. “You’ll never know / Unless we go / So let me show you.” This thing rocks and it’s got a killer groove that just keeps coming at you and getting more emphatic, built of multi rhythm tracks. As an expression of “the transformation” it all works hand in glove.
Sure, if you want, it’s about becoming a werewolf and running naked and strange and fanged through the forests of the night. Why not? But if so, I think of Michelle Pfeiffer at the end of Wolf (1994) when her eyes go glassy green and, yeah, that makes me think of this part, which concludes the little slo-mo interlude in the middle of the song, and when that drumming groove starts up again you feel like your chest might explode:
Feeding on fever / Down on all fours / Show you what all that / Howl is for
I have a feeling I might remember what he’s talking about. And I’ve never been a wolf . . . I was going to say I’ve never been transformed into an animal, but stopped myself.
Another great line (this song has a lot) is: “Hey hey, my playmate / Let me lay waste to thee”—sounds good, doesn’t it? And just so you know the body is the basis of all the surging power the song puts out there: “There's a cure comes with a kiss / The bite that binds, the gift that gives.” Yeah, bro, the gift that keeps on giving. And the curse/cure idea is sharp.
I don’t know that much about Tunde Adebimpe, the guy who wrote and sings this song. I have this album and its follow up Dear Science, so I know they’re not one-hit wonders. Still, I don’t profess knowing much else they’ve done, on “instant recognition.” They’re a varied bunch and it’s hard to say what they’re dominant “sound” is. Which keeps it interesting.
This song did it for me and still does, even though it’s six years since I first heard it. “Writhing under your riding hood.” Oh baby.