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#1
Old 11-04-2009, 12:24 PM
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What is the song "China Girl" about?

I remember this song being popular back in the 80's. I heard it last night on the radio and actually paid attention to the lyrics. They didn't seem to make much sense, so I assumed I must be mis-hearing some of the words. So I visited a couple lyrics sights. Yes, I did mis-hear. No, it still doesn't make much sense.
Anybody have any insights to offer?
#2
Old 11-04-2009, 12:28 PM
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I always assumed it was from the POV of a white soldier stationed abroad during WWII, in a relationship with a Chinese woman (or at least having a romance as a metaphor for the West encroaching on the East e.g. 'I'll give you television / I'll give you eyes of blue / I'll give you men who want to rule the world.')
#3
Old 11-04-2009, 12:44 PM
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Like any poem worth anything, it's about more than one thing. On the one hand, it is about cultural imperialism ("you shouldn't mess with me, I'll ruin everything you are"). On the other hand, it's about drug withdrawal, China white being a form of heroin, and the song being written when David Bowie and Iggy Pop were in Berlin trying to clean up their acts ("I'm a mess without my little China girl; wake up in the morning, where's my China girl?").* On the other hand, it's basic romantic angst. To paraphrase:

Boy: I love you, I need you, but I'm bad news, baby.
Girl: Shut up.

* I think the drug connection is fairly weak, but it must be included under the "all rock songs are really about drugs" principle.

Last edited by TWDuke; 11-04-2009 at 12:45 PM.
#4
Old 11-04-2009, 01:31 PM
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Oh baby, just you shut your mouse.
#5
Old 11-04-2009, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Fight View Post
'I'll give you television / I'll give you eyes of blue / I'll give you men who want to rule the world.')
Is that the line? I always thought it was "I'll give you man-o-wars to rule the world."
#6
Old 11-04-2009, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Push You Down View Post
Is that the line? I always thought it was "I'll give you man-o-wars to rule the world."
Upon re-listen and re-Google, it might actually be 'a man who wants.' But I don't think the US is giving anyone killer jellyfish. Though there was that racehorse...
#7
Old 11-04-2009, 02:21 PM
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..a Man-o-War is also a battleship.

..or was I whooshed?
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Last edited by Push You Down; 11-04-2009 at 02:21 PM. Reason: ?
#8
Old 11-04-2009, 02:22 PM
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Oops, of course.

Also, yes on drugs.
#9
Old 11-04-2009, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
Oh baby, just you shut your mouse.
Hah! That's how I sing it, too.
#10
Old 11-04-2009, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Fight View Post
Upon re-listen and re-Google, it might actually be 'a man who wants.' But I don't think the US is giving anyone killer jellyfish. Though there was that racehorse...
Or, maybe we are...
#11
Old 11-04-2009, 05:18 PM
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Hrm. I always heard it as 'a voice to rule the world', therefore going all geopolitical, but again, YMMV.
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#12
Old 11-04-2009, 05:33 PM
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Definitely "I'll give you a man who wants to rule the world". I say "definitely" because I am David Bowie.
#13
Old 11-04-2009, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSquishy View Post
Definitely "I'll give you a man who wants to rule the world". I say "definitely" because I am David Bowie.

I knew it!


your accent gave you away, you know ...




Sincerely, Peter Weller
#14
Old 11-04-2009, 06:01 PM
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According to this, it's about stealing rice for Hitler. (Link goes to an amusing and SFW video, however there is most definitely sound.)

But upon just really listening to the words for what may be the first time in my life, I'm going with the drug explanation.
#15
Old 11-05-2009, 12:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSquishy View Post
I say "definitely" because I am David Bowie.
I find it amusing that a pig has learned to post in Cafe Society.
#16
Old 11-05-2009, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by wunderkammer View Post
I find it amusing that a pig has learned to post in Cafe Society.

What does this mean?
#17
Old 11-05-2009, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
What does this mean?
It has to do with the link I posted, but I suppose it's kind of a douchebag thing to say if you didn't watch the video.
#18
Old 11-05-2009, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Draelin View Post
It has to do with the link I posted, but I suppose it's kind of a douchebag thing to say if you didn't watch the video.
Thanks for clearing that up and for posting the video. I haven't seen that in 25 years! I somehow can't imagine a big star making a video today featuring themselves doing " Chinese eyes".
#19
Old 11-05-2009, 10:41 AM
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I always envisioned it as being about a dissolute, Colonial-era Englishman drawn to a Chinese woman in an abusive relationship. Not all of the lyrics make sense because he's drunk and/or an opium addict.

I remember there was some controversy at the time the video came out on MTV, because of its perceived anti-Asian/racist tone.
#20
Old 11-05-2009, 11:35 AM
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Ohh, an Iggy thread,

I have a biography were Iggy talks about the person (actually a Vietnamese woman) that he was madly in love with and wrote the song about. I'm in the midst of moving at the moment but I will be back later and dig out that particular volume.


Also, this on one of the worst Iggy Pop songs ever, can we talk about Lust For Life?

Last edited by The Falling Reverend; 11-05-2009 at 11:35 AM.
#21
Old 11-05-2009, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Falling Reverend View Post
Also, this on one of the worst Iggy Pop songs ever, can we talk about Lust For Life?
Ah yes, a perfectly hummable tune about a smiling, white family on a Caribbean vacation.
#22
Old 11-05-2009, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Falling Reverend View Post
I have a biography were Iggy talks about the person (actually a Vietnamese woman) that he was madly in love with and wrote the song about. I'm in the midst of moving at the moment but I will be back later and dig out that particular volume.
Oh, who cares about what the author says. Do you know nothing of modern literary criticism?
#23
Old 11-05-2009, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TWDuke View Post
Oh, who cares about what the author says. Do you know nothing of modern literary criticism?
You do realize that I'm agreeing with you right?
#24
Old 11-05-2009, 02:21 PM
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It was a kind of joke.
#25
Old 11-05-2009, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TWDuke View Post
It was a kind of joke.
I was hoping so. Sometimes it's hard to tell on here. No worries then.
#26
Old 11-05-2009, 08:53 PM
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So we have one poster who is David Bowie, and another who is clearly a thinly disguised David Bowie (Thin White Duke). Which of you is the real David Bowie, and which the sock?
#27
Old 11-06-2009, 01:20 PM
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I am the sock.

And the walrus.
#28
Old 11-06-2009, 02:57 PM
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I'm Brian, and so is my wife.
#29
Old 11-08-2009, 09:50 AM
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I am the eggman
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