Saturday, April 9, 2011

Control Freak Lyrics: "Don't Answer the Door"

I love good music whatever the genre--blues, pop, rock, R&B, jazz, bluegrass, opera--but let's face it, some song lyrics about people in love are really about people locked in obsession and would be labeled more accurately "confessions of a control freak." For instance, you do know that "Every Breath You Take" by Sting and the Police is really about a stalker, don't you?

I'm not criticizing the songwriters as much as I'm wondering why these kinds of songs are so popular. Is it because we confuse the early stages of the lover experience, which is infatuation, with love? Infatuation is the stuff of fleeting passion and sometimes insane behavior, not the stuff of a good foundation long-term.

So, I like B.B. King, but while I was working today "Don't Answer the Door" was playing in the background, and I thought Damn! A domestic violence counselor could use this song as an example of what a controlling man sounds like. The lyrics are a classic example of someone isolating a woman from her friends and family. The song's narrator doesn't even want the doctor to come to see about her if she's sick and he's not home: "You just suffer until I get home," says the speaker.

(I'm not picking on B.B. King because "Don't Answer the Door" is just a song, and he is after all singing the blues. The blues has a special kind of pathos. Its ethos is grounded in tales of human misery.)


Don't Answer The Door
B.B. King (Lyrics as posted at BluesForPeace.com)

Baby, I don't wanna a soul,
Hangin around my house when I'm not home.
Oh, I don't want a soul, baby,
Hangin' around my house when I'm not home.
I don't want you to open the door for nobody, woman,
Oh, when you're home and you know you're all alone.

Your sister might wanna visit us,
But the little girl she talk too much.
If she just come by to visit us,
Tell her to meet us Sunday, Sunday, down at the church.
'Cause I don't want a soul, baby,
Hangin' around my house when I'm not at home.
Yes, I don't want you to open the door for nobody, baby,
Oh, when you're home and you know you're all alone.

Your mother might wanna visit us,
But you tell you mamma I get home bout the break a day.
And that's too late to visit anybody, baby,
So, tell you mamma to please, please, please stay away.
'Cause I don't want a soul, baby,
Hangin' around my house when I'm not at home.
Yes, I don't want you to open the door for anybody, woman,
Oh, when you're home and you know you're all alone.

You might feel a little sick, baby,
And you know you're home all alone,
I don't want the doctor at my house, baby,
You just suffer, suffer, suffer till I get home.
'Cause I don't want a soul, baby,
Hangin' around my house when I'm not at home.
Yes, I don't want you to open the door for nobody, woman,
Baby, when you're home and all alone.
Yeah!
Note the difference between what Aretha Franklin's lyrics say in "Dr. Feelgood": she doesn't want anybody always sitting around her and her man. She doesn't mind company. Company is alright with her every once in a while. What she doesn't want is people hanging around so much they interfere with her sex life. It's not about having total control.



However, for the record, I know that some women can also be abusive and controlling. And female singers also have their share of songs about obsession. In fact, Aretha, one friend reminded me that Aretha also recorded "Until You Come Back To Me," which has these lyrics:
Though you don't call anymore
I sit and wait in vain
I guess I'll rap on your door
Tap on your window pane
I want to tell you Baby
The changes I've been going through
Missing you.
Listen you

'till you come back to me
That's what I'm gonna do
Men wrote those lyrics: Stevie Wonder, Morris Broadnax, and Clarence Paul. But if I think, I know I'll come up with similarly obsessive lyrics written by women.

4 comments:

le0pard13 said...

Fascinating subject and post, Nordette. I think John Lennon's song that he most regretted writing, Run for Your Life, would qualify here, as well. Thanks.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

I thought I knew every Beatles song, le0, but if I knew Run for Your Life, then I forgot.

You're right. It fits. No wonder JL regretted writing it.

Shady_Grady said...

There are many many such songs.
The ultimate is "Under My Thumb" by The Rolling Stones. If we go back just a few years before that you have Bo Diddley's "You can't do what I do (But you better do what I say)" Of course many such songs were tongue in cheek. On his "Live at Ole Miss" album BB lampoons the narrator of "Don't Answer the Door" as a loser and segues immediately into "Nobody Loves me but my mother" =)

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Thank you, SG. I love that info about the "Live at Ole Miss" album. :-) It makes me think of Gladys Knight peforming with Chaka Khan and Etta James at BB's concert singing "Ain't Nobody's Business." She gets to the line about letting a man hit her and makes sure to slip in that what she's saying isn't true. Clip at YouTube