Friday, 27 November 2009

Polythene Pam

Just over forty years ago, in 1969, the Beatles released their Abbey Road album. Because I couldn't afford to buy any albums (or 'LPs' as they were then called) while at school I didn't acquire a copy until I started work, and then only after buying a second-hand stereo record-player. That was in 1971.

I loved Abbey Road. It seemed perfect. Eventually I bought the CD version and the tracks found their way onto my PDAs and more recently my Nokia E71 mobile phone, which makes a very good digital music-player. And just yesterday I suddenly noticed something about the lyrics John Lennon penned for 'Polythene Pam', one of the songs in the medley on side 2. Here they are:

Well you should see Polythene Pam
She's so good-looking but she looks like a man
Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
Yes you should see Polythene Pam.
Yeah yeah yeah
Get a dose of her in jackboots and kilt
She's killer-diller when she's dressed to the hilt
She's the kind of a girl that makes the "News of the World"
Yes you could say she was attractively built.
Yeah yeah yeah.


Hang on a minute. What is this actually about? I thought it was a song about an 'action' girl - shiny plastic clothes were trendy and fashionable for a time in the 1960s, and Avenger-style karate-chopping females were often seen on TV. In fact I dreamed of being picked up at the school gates by Emma Peel in a Lotus, and being whisked away to the envy of my school chums - but let's not pursue the inner meaning of that. I'd overlooked the reference to the News of the World, but did it have a significance I'd missed?

Clang! Well, it took me forty years to work it out (I'm pretty slow on the uptake), but I now think Lennon was having a dig at trannies! Do you agree?

12 comments:

  1. I hadn't noticed that, though I've often sung along to it. I've got the LP, stolen from a boyfriend at the time, but nothing to play it on now (you can't beat the good old clicks and scratches)

    Lola by the Kinks was always a favourite of mine. It always made me sad - it still does.

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  2. It would be interesting to compile a list of songs that seem to touch on trans issues. Perhaps it's been done! I'm going to try a search on 'trans songs wiki' on Google, which may turn up a Wikipedia article or reference. But not now. I need to eat, and then phone a friend in need. You could chase it up, Anji.

    Lucy

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  3. How about this one from The Kinks...

    Well, I'm not the world's most physical guy,
    but when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine
    Oh my Lola, lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo Lola
    Well, I'm not dumb but I can't understand
    why she walks like a woman and talks like a man
    Oh my Lola, lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo Lola

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  4. Ah... Anji had already mentioned it. Silly me! Sorry :(

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  5. Calie has this 'T-Tunes' list going which is pretty good Lucy. She even found a track for me...'Josephine' by Terrorvision. And damned fine it is too! ;-)

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  6. I never really paid a lot of attention to the lyrics of Polythne Pam. My first transgender recollection of any Beatles song was:

    Get Back

    Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner,
    But he knew it couldn't last,
    Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona
    For some California grass

    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, Jojo
    Go home

    Get back, get back
    Back to where you once belonged
    Get back, get back
    Back to where you once belonged
    Get back, Jo

    Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman
    But she was another man
    All the girls around her say she's got it coming
    But she gets it while she can

    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, Loretta
    Go home

    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Oooh...

    Get back, Loretta
    Your mama's waiting for you
    Wearing her high-heel shoes
    And her low-neck sweater
    Get back home, Loretta


    Get back, get back
    Get back to where you once belonged
    Get back, get back
    Get back
    Oh, yeah

    Melissa XX

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  7. Lou Reed, Walk On the Wild Side:

    "Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
    Hitch-hiked her way across the USA
    Plucked her eyebrows on the way
    Shaved her legs and then he was a she
    She says, Hey babe
    Take a walk on the wild side
    Hey honey
    Take a walk on the wild side"

    Fitting lyrics considering the flurry of hair removing posts at the moment.

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  8. Well, so far as I'm concerned the ultimate choice would be Lou Reed – Take A Walk On The Wild Side (from the album Transformer)

    Holli came from Miami FLA
    Hitchhiked her way across the USA
    Plucked her eyebrows on the way
    Shaved her legs then he was a she
    She said hey babe, Take a walk on the wild side...

    And there's:
    Aerosmith – Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
    David Bowie – Rebel Rebel
    La Toya Jackson – Just Wanna Dance
    Traffic – Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Probably not, but I sure like the title)

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  9. not bringing anything new to the table, just a quick shout for The Raincoats' version of 'Lola'.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QufDdHzWhgw

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  10. Funny isn't it - I've heard 'Get Back' more times than I care to remember and never latached on to the Loretta Martin bit.

    Thanks, Melissa

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  11. Loretta MARTIN? Any connection with the Beatles' producer and arranger George Martin do you think? Is it something about George Martin that the world should have known?

    Calie (via Josephine): thanks for the list!

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  12. A good spot. The NOTW reference does make you think. This was the newspaper which outed April Ashley years before and would go on to do the same to Caroline Crossly (sp?).

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