“Shut Your Mouth” – The Fashion Focus

I’m back after a week long break. Some of you might have thought that I finally shut my mouth, but, alas, it is not so. I’ve known what I was going to write for this song the whole time but it was hard to get it on the page.

“Shut Your Mouth” continues the trend on this album of sounding like it is straight out of the ’60s. We are talking a ’67 Monterey Pop Festival vibe here. This such a song to listen to as you are taking mind altering substances while sitting in a bean bag chair and complaining about the president and the war to your fellow stoners. This is The Doors, The Mamas and Papas and Big Brother and the Holding Company all rolled in together.

This trip into psychedelia is plotted by the plodding determined drum beat. The lead and the organ compete for attention hitting dual, clashing accents in the verses. The lead drops out in the chorus and lets the organ carry the solo. In the background, we have one rhythm guitar with a clean tone playing simple arpeggios with some variations. Another rhythm guitar is underneath playing chords in what I think is a heavy tremolo. The bass moves around the fretboard more than usual for a sf59 song and gives a feeling of cool detachment. Some vibes are hovering somewhere between the bass line and the clean rhythm guitar adding to this “too cool for school” stance the song takes.

Now, let’s talk about these background vocals. There is a double to the main vocal sung in a falsetto in the chorus. This is a new thing. We haven’t heard this in any of the songs we’ve reviewed up to this point. This album is a sort of showcase for testing out new production tricks. But I think this is more than a production trick. It is a sign that the singer is speaking with a forked tongue. You’ll see what I mean when we dig into the lyrics.

Let’s not forget the ominous “Ahhhhh” in between the chorus and the verses. They sound kind of churchy, don’t they? I haven’t plotted out the notes on these vocals, so I could be wrong about this, but I believe they are missing the 5th note of the chord structure. This type of hollowed out chord structure was common in pre-Renaissance church music, like Gregorian chants. It’s a sound that is ancient and haunting, something that came hundreds of years before Vatican II which gave us all the permission to chill the fuck out and stopping judging so much. This is completely appropriate because this song is about judging or, to be more precise, it is a song about projecting your judgement onto someone else. It’s an important distinction to make.

After all
You really stink it up
And the lies that you tell
I really think that you know

When I first sat down to right this, the lyrics made me think of one person only – Donald Trump. I’ve always thought he was an odious man, but I could ignore him before. Now he’s stinking up the presidency with his lies and I can’t get away from him. This is not intended to be a political post; I’m talking about what I think of him as a man and I will try not to tarry there long as it makes me feel icky.

I ran across this article once titled something like “Let Donald Trump be Your Spiritual Teacher”. I clicked on it thinking it would be good for a laugh. The article was quite sincere. It talked about how all of Trump’s characteristics that you hate so much are really things that you dislike about yourself. Are you a white person who’s angry about his racist pandering? Well, maybe you are a little too comfortable with your own privilege, but, hey, you’re not as bad as him, right? Are you disgusted by his womanizing? Maybe you haven’t yet taken account of the ways you will objectify a woman’s body. The thing about Trump is that he takes all the characteristics we hide, even from ourselves, and he just does them out in the open. See Trump as the mirror of unacceptable aspects of yourself. The article was not the barrel of laughs I was expecting. Shit got real.

Left your girl and you left your family too
Things that you’re never sure about
Just know that there’s one thing I’ll get through

You’ve got it all worked out
I wish you’d shut your mouth

He’s left multiple wives and children. He thinks he’s got it all worked out (and he’s the only one in the world who does). And, God, I wish he would shut his mouth and shut down his Twitter. How does this mirror me? I’ve left my girl before too and some family members when I wasn’t sure how things would go. As for having it all worked out, I live in that philosopher’s realm where you can spout theories about anything but still yet cannot say for certain if chairs exist. This no man’s land allows me to be both superior in all that I know and can debate about but without the potential nasty consequences of taking a committed stand on anything. See, I’ve got it all worked out.

After all
You really like just to never tell
We really think that you’ll burn in hell
I really think that you know

I think it is that the singer likes to never tell – at least about himself. It’s so much safer to point out how someone else is going to hell, isn’t it? Trump is a master at projection too. You never hear him say a negative word about himself; it’s all superlatives, all the time. If he things that anyone or anyplace isn’t for him, they get all the nasty descriptions or nicknames that he can think of. And all of it revolves around him and the image he has of himself. He cannot even spare attention for anything that is not about him.

It’s this classic narcissism that probably gets on my nerves the most about him. So that has to say something about me. I’m not saying I am a narcissist. I’ve actually given considerable thought as to whether I fit the diagnostic criteria for NPD and that is something a narcissist would never do. That being said, I sure to like to talk about myself. Notice how each of these song reviews end up being something about me? People don’t do music reviews this way. I can think that I’m doing something bold and new. But maybe the truth of it is that this project wouldn’t hold my interest for very long if I wasn’t writing about myself so much.

You’ve got it all worked out
I wish you’d shut your mouth

I made a comment a few posts ago about how I thought the theme of this album was judgement. I want to amend that. I think the theme of this album is about projection. We’ve already seen several songs where the singer had it all worked out when pointing out the evil doings of others (“Sundown”, “The Birthrite”). When the singer focuses on himself, the songs are about being stuck or about abdicating all responsibility (“I Drive A Lot”, “We’re the Ordinary”, “All The Time”). It’s all this abdication that makes the projection so necessary. Hey, maybe I don’t have it all worked out in my own life but I’m better than this fucker over here and I’m going to tell him so. The abdication and projection go hand in hand.

And, with that being said, I’m going to shut my mouth.