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Old 10-24-2004, 12:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 35,294
Billy Squier's "The Stroke": Interpretations?

I've learned to hate what VH1 has become. All their programming now seems to consist of shows called "The 100 Worst _ Videos of All TIme," which feature music critics nobody's ever heard off, standup comedians no one's ever heard of, and washed-up has-been musicians explaining why all the platinum albums, #1 singles and popular videos of the last 30 years weren't really any good.

But I did catch a bit of a show about the Worst Sexy Songs of all time. One of the top songs nominated was Billy Squier's "The Stroke," which Henry Rollins (I hesitate to call him a washed-up has-been... he's really more of a never-was) and the unknown standup comics and critics all trashed for dealing with masturbation.

Now, that's never been one of my favorite songs, and it's fine with me if people want to laugh at Billy Squier (after that "Rock Me Tonight" video, he's fair game). But I NEVER thought the song was about masturbation. The lyrics always seemed to me like a satirical look at life in the corporate world. The lyrics DON'T seem to say "play with your weenie." Rather, they seem to represent advice from a corporate big shot to an aspiring junior exec: "If you want to succeed in business, you have to stroke me, suck up to me, kiss my backside, feed my ego. You have to B.S. me ("spread your ear pollution") to win my favor and get promoted.... and all the while, you have to look for a chance to stab me in the back and steal my position ("work your way right into my place")."

Anyone agree or disagree? Have I been giving Billy Squier too much credit? Is this a song about spanking the monkey or about insincere flattery and ego stroking in the executive suite?
Old 10-24-2004, 12:28 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
Posts: 12,024
I have the same impression as you. I thought that the song was done that way intentionally--that you would immediately think of masturbation, but then realize that it was about stroking the ego.

And I am so FREAKING tired of Henry Rollins! Shut up, Henry!
Old 10-24-2004, 12:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Yuma, AZ
Posts: 4,114
I always thought it was about the music business--the "Music Industry Weasels" as Letterman used to say.
Old 10-24-2004, 12:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,030's about "spankin the monkey"

and you guys know it....fess up.
Old 10-24-2004, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suburbs of Detroit, MI
Posts: 9,859
I thought that 40 Worst Sex Songs of All Time list was pretty good. (Or is that "pretty bad"?) Did you catch that KISS song? Good Lord, did that suck

Sorry, but Billy Squire deserves his place on that list. Comparing corporate brown-nosing to masturbation is clever, but the song still ain't very good.
Old 10-24-2004, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: The Well of Loneliness
Posts: 1,652
I certainly have no idea as to what Billy Squier's intentions were when he wrote the song (straightforward masturbation ditty vs. clever metaphorical masturbation ditty), but I do recall that when I saw it performed live back when I was in college, there was no doubt what they were suggesting onstage. (And it wasn't about white collar office politics.)

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