Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Great Mohair Man

Here's a song that I loved when it was first released, but which I found confusing because I had a bit of trouble understanding some of the lyrics:

The chorus at the end of the first verse, when I first heard it, sounded like "Geezer Butler, he's my friend, always winning in the end". i thought it was rather sweet of these guys to write a song in honor of Black Sabbath's pioneering heavy metal bassist and lyricist. Ozzy Osbourne had gotten attention over the years by singing someone else's lyrics for far too long; now let's give credit where credit is due. All hail the great Geezer Butler! Damn right.

Of course, the first several times I heard "The Hunter" by GTR, I was listening to a crappy mono radio in a garage while lifting weights, so my brain was not exactly tuned for listening comprehension. For several weeks, I had myself convinced that GTR was actually singing about Geezer Butler.

Then I bought the cassette tape of the album, read the actual lyrics, and cried. Not outwardly, of course. It was not that big of a deal.

Something else that wasn't such a big deal, at the time, was this bit:

Just take a lesson from the great Mohammed, he said...he said...
Pick up a rifle, you must be strong...
Those lines would raise more than a few hackles if written nowadays, but back in the pre-bin Laden days, it was simply a cross-cultural reference by an educated westerner. No, the thing that bugged me about the Mohammed reference -- and still does -- is that, after reading the lyrics, I still do not think it sounds like vocalist Max Bacon is singing about Mohammed.

It sounds like he is singing about someone called "the great mohair man". Every time I encounter the word "mohair", I remember an episode of All In the Family that had something to do with a mohair coat, and Archie Bunker's classic line, "Do you know how many moes died to make this coat?"

Add to the fact that, in the video for the song, Steve Howe is grinning through his impressively rock star-ish long hair when Bacon sings the line, and I have this impression of Howe as the "Great Mohair Man" indelibly imprinted in my brain. What are mohair coats made of? Why, Steve Howe's hair, of course!

I also considered the possibility that the line is actually "just take a lesson from the great Moe haired man". But none of the performers in the video bears much of a resemblance to the slap-happy boss of the Three Stooges.

What this world need is more songs about Geezer Butler and Moe Howard.

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