Today I want to write about ‘Get your hands off of my woman’ by The Darkness. The song is from their first album ‘Permission to land’.
I feel like the album came out at the perfect time for me. I had left school, and was trying to conjure up a new optimism that college really would be a different world, where I would be treated better. The defiant spirit of The Darkness really worked for me, and to my delight their music had the same effect on my peers. Just that in itself helped me feel more a part of things.
I felt very connected to their sound because I also use my anxiety directly as creative fuel. In 2003 The Darkness proved to me that it was possible to do as I was doing, in a way that was popular and fun. I wanted to be popular and fun! So I began to explore. I knew I could follow the current of my obsessiveness, and find humour, but previously this would be a rather private exercise.
I loved surrealism, but I saw it as something I outputted rather than was. I think after listening to The Darkness this shifted and I began to feel more that I was a surreal thing as a person. Where once I would have striven to be perfect and act perfectly, the new idea was that a paradoxical confidence could be found in celebrating my own anxieties. I was now convinced it would be not only acceptable to expose my own spiraling obsessiveness, but that it could be a lot of fun too.
Anyway, I bought the CD and loved it. However at the time I struggled with ‘Get your hands off of my woman’. Actually I’m glad I did, because remembering that, helps me to relate to the confusion some people feel about the band. As a teenager I found the song too offensive, whilst at the same time loving it. This was unsettling and I wasn’t used to feeling so conflicted. The song has a relentless transcendent playfulness which I got caught up in, whilst still being fixed, open mouthed each time ‘mother fucker’ reached my unaccustomed young ears! Did he really say that.
I now think it is a very deep song, and much more than being a literal story about a pub brawl between two men as some have suggested. I think when a crowd is immersed in this song, it is just as much about re-experiencing our infant trauma of being born, the great separation, and how this contains an echo in all that we do. Life is always about trying to keep hold of things and people, who are taken from us. The scream of the angry toddler doesn’t leave us as we grow up. The original grief twists into new forms. The early injustice we feel, lays the foundation for how we feel about all of our adult concepts of injustice.
To help us suffer more there is the cultural expectation that we will behave and articulate ourselves like grown ups, as we are burnt by painful experiences. I think the song is strung out between these two poles. It contains logical thoughts and explanation, which inevitably burst through to their root of primitive aggression. Yet somehow despite these storms, its a very British song which remains very self aware at it’s most angry. In that way it kind of has the atmosphere of the wildest moments in a British sit com.
During the formative years, we also imagine the world to be like an extension of our mothers. This concept is found in many religions as the idea of the Earth as a mother. I think this is also relevant to the song. As well as motherfuckers of minor fuck ups, its also good to think of what it means to us collectively as a species. If we don’t want to be at the mercy of global motherfuckers, then we will have to be pioneers of a culture where we all care a bit more about our home planet.
I love it that the song can be experienced on whatever level you like, or on many levels at once. In that way it is a mythical song which reveals the changing meanings of any concept. Language can be used as consciously or unconsciously as we like, but by breaking things down and looking at how they are constructed, we can have a better understanding of how our words offend or shock us. An idea you can learn from a textbook, but this song gives the listener a direct, full on experience of meanings in flux, and it’s an absolute pleasure to experience.