REWIND: Some songs about violence for your Black Friday

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin in 1970, courtesy Wikicommons.

This is, somehow, inexplicably, the weekend before Thanksgiving. I was pretty sure it was an unusually cold August but I triple-checked the calendar and it’s definitely late November.

Time is weird.

Since my column runs on Saturday, that means this is also my last column before Thanksgiving. But I’m not writing a column about Thanksgiving because that would be too easy. That’s what they’ll be expecting. Instead, I’ve decided to write a column about the real most American of holidays: Black Friday.

Here are five songs about violence.

The Beatles — “Run For Your Life”

It’s not a secret that John Lennon, Mr. Give Peace A Chance, beat his wife. He was not a particularly good person. That said, it’s not as widely known as you might expect. Which is strange because “Run For Your Life” exists.

Long story short, this is a song in which the Beatles’ harmonies repeatedly and directly threaten a woman’s life if she cheats on… them? Him? I’m not sure how it works when it’s several people singing harmony from one person’s perspective, but it’s pretty bad.

These are actual lyrics: “You better run for your life if you can, little girl/ Hide your head in the sand, little girl/ Catch you with another man/ That’s the end, little girl.”

The Beatles!

Limp Bizkit — “Break Stuff”

I never thought Limp Bizkit was bad per se. I mean, sure, its music is pretty bad, and it’s utterly baffling how Fred Durst and co. were unrivaled global superstars around the turn of the century. But I always assumed they were just harmless idiots; a bunch of bros who stumbled into the exact right time and place to appreciate their brand of mediocrity.

Then I saw that Woodstock ’99 documentary about how the festival was basically a horror movie in real life and, wow. They were not good people.

With the exception of Dexter and Noodles from The Offspring, nobody comes off looking particularly good. Even Moby, who didn’t actually do anything and left well before things went south, spends all his time whining about how his billing wasn’t higher at the waking nightmare of sexual assault and human waste. But nobody comes across quite as bad as Limp Bizkit. While most were content to ignore the spiraling orgy of violence, they were the ones who actively encouraged it.

Their music is the perfect soundtrack for a day in which people elbow each other in the face for a discounted TV that’s been collecting dust in the storeroom for six months.

LL Cool J — “Mama Said Knock You Out”

Imagine how weird it must be for a teenager to find out that before he was the only Black guy on CBS, LL Cool J was not only a rapper but a scary rapper who parents were wary of for his aggression. That guy who hosts “Lip Sync Battle” and is on their grandparents’ second-favorite NCIS! The cognitive dissonance must be incredible.

More shocking for a time traveler would be Ice-T playing a cop for 20 years after his metal band Body Count became pariahs in 1991 for releasing “Cop Killer.” Probably less shocking for people now, though, since he’s still the exact same dude he always was on social media.

Janis Joplin — “Mercedes Benz”

OK, I know I said violence songs, but I can’t do a Black Friday column without one anti-consumerism song.

Oh, you didn’t know this was an anti-consumerism song? I don’t really blame you. It was the very last song Janis Joplin ever recorded, so she didn’t really get any say in its reception or interpretation. So… marketers have been completely missing the point and including it in commercials since forever.

In fact, Mercedes Benz has been including it in commercials for 25 years! The song mocking people for praying for a Mercedes is now used in an effort to make people pray for a Mercedes. Nobody’s missed the point that badly since everyone decided “Born in the USA” was a patriotic anthem.

Slipknot — “People = Shit”

Obviously you shouldn’t go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. You don’t need me to tell you that, not just because you have sense but because fewer and fewer people actually do that anymore. Why go get stomped by a mob when you can just order online without even putting on pants?

No; I’m here to tell you something more pragmatic: You get what you pay for. Those super cheap deals? They’re garbage. The electronics are unreliable, the clothes are poorly made, the gadgets are low-cost knockoffs. You’re not actually getting a deal! You’re just blowing cash on something you’re going to have to replace at some point in 2022, anyway!

Save your money, wait a week, and buy one thing at full price from a local business. It’ll last longer, it’ll do some good, and you won’t be one of the people Slipknot is talking about.

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