Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Dandy Warhols -- "Bohemian Like You" (2000)

Every year, my San Francisco-based friend Ken would create a tape (later CD) of tunes he wanted to turn me on to. Some years ago, he included the Dandy Warhols' "Bohemian Like You," and boy, did that sound great. Little did I know that Ken was a nut for this band and urged me to download the whole album it came from, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia.

The Dandy's never seemed to make a consistent album -- each one had a small handful of terrific singles, surrounded by substandard stuff. They clearly were obsessed by the Velvet Underground and 60's British Invasion and garage rock, and had no problem "nicking" little bits of well-known classics.

For example, the first song on Thirteen Tales, "Godless," bore a remarkable resemblance to the the sweeping minor-major opening guitar chords of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." Still, their dirty-ed up guitars, Farfisa organ lines, vocal drones and rowdy choruses were made for blasting out from speakers and singing along, beer in hand, dancing with your friends.

In the past several years, you'd be hard pressed to find a rock band that somehow created a perfect pop single as this one. The Dandy Warhols had some great songs, but this will always be their certified "hit." Starting with a rumbling eight-bar jungle tom beat and an organ starting to pour in, it explodes into "Gimme Shelter"-like riffs of blended electric and acoustic guitars, smashing drums, and a gripping distorted wah-wah lick. The hyperkinetic bounce of this song made it a popular license for movies and TV ads, notably a Vodophone ad which aired throughout Europe after its release.

"Bohemian Like You" absolutely exudes cool, band mastermind Courtney Taylor-Taylor affecting a quasi-British accent on his vocals, and lots of "Woah-ho-woo!" (and there aren't enough of those in rock songs anymore, let me tell you). With the Dandy's, there is always some kind of artificial attitude, posing, drugs, casual sex, and even condescension. "Bohemian Like You" put it all in one great catchy package.

You've got a great car,
Yeah, what's wrong with it today?
I used to have one too,
Maybe you'll come and have a look.
I really love your hairdo, yeah,
I'm glad you like my do,
See what looking pretty cool will get ya.

So what do you do?
Oh yeah, I wait tables too.
No, I haven't heard your band,
Cause you guys are pretty new.
But if you dig on vegan food,
Well, come over to my work,
I'll have them cook you something that you'll really love.

Cause I like you,
Yeah, I like you,
And I'm feelin so bohemian like you,
Yeah, I like you,
Yeah, I like you,
And I feel whoa ho woo!

Wait.
Who's that guy,
Just hanging at your pad.
He's looking kinda blah,
Yeah, you broke up, that's too bad.
I guess it's fair if he always pays the rent,
And he doesn't get bent about sleeping on the couch when I'm there,

Cause I like you,
Yeah I like you,
And I'm feeling so bohemian like you.
Yeah I like you,
Yeah I like you,
And I feel woah-ho-woo!

I'm getting wise,
And I'm feeling so bohemian like you,
It's you that I want so please,
Just a causal, casual easy thing.
It isn't? It is for me.
And I like you,
Yeah I like you,
And I like you, I like you, I like you, I like you, I like you, I like you
I like you.
And I feel woah-ho-woo!
Woah-ho-woo.


The "Bohemian Like You" video is as much a trip as the song, as grungy as those guitars. Conceived and directed by Taylor-Taylor (no wonder why these guys worked with Duran Duran with their double names), there are two versions -- one with nudity and one without. Lots of tattoos, burning cigarettes, and skinny, funky, hairy people!



1 comment:

Kevin said...

I was an unabashed lover of this album when it came out, but its shine has faded a bit since then, perhaps I killed it by playing it a bit too much. Still, "Bohemian Like You" ought to be regarded as one of the best moderate-hit-featured-in-at-least-one-car-commercial of the decade.