As I’ve since shared here, I feel that a night on the town with “Sugar Magnolia” would be more relaxed, more open to surprise, and have less strings attached than a night out with “Just What I Needed.” I suspect The Cars’ perfect pop hit would want to see a Ben Affleck. At some point in the night, the song would drop a subtly racist remark on the walk home – not a horribly racist remark, mind you, but the kind that results from the ignorance of living one’s entire life in a suburban development.
Of course, this explanation of my feelings on the matter, which would have been all that Gergs was going to get in the 5 years since Rock Town Hall went dormant, was not enough. He came back to me with nonsense about needing to take an “objective look at the song.”
Think about how I framed this entire discussion: Which song would I rather have a no-great-expectations date with? When you were young, single, and on the prowl for a partner to spend the night, did you ever need your friend to help you take an “objective look” at the person in your sights? No way! A real friend would say, “Go for it!”
I get it, regarding “Just What I Needed.” The song is as sculpted and shapely as the pinup girls The Cars used on their albums covers. If things went well, I’d have to fight through unhooking one of those 1950s-era atomic bras. That’s a drag. Then there’s the fact that this song wears perfume and ribbons. I am asthmatic. I don’t need my deep dive into the flesh hampered by breathing in designer fumes. As for the ribbons, I love watching a Shirley Temple movie as much as the next guy, but I’m not turned on by the thought of a grown woman wearing ribbons in her hair!
The singer of “Just What I Needed” tells me that the song is “deep,” but the writer of the song has trouble putting together even a second distinct verse to bring this lust interest to light. After hinting at any sense of depth, we’re told that “Just What I Needed,” like a Rod Stewart fling, “wears it well” and is “fancy.”
The Dead make no pretenses about their “Sugar Magolia”: “Head’s all empty and I don’t care.” That’s a promising quality when the best you can expect is a good time.
This is not to suggest a lack of respect. The Dead take a most gentlemanly approach to their lust interest:
Sweet blossom come on under the willow
We can have high times if you’ll abide
We can discover the wonders of nature
Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside
No hash tags here, as they note the all-important “if you’ll abide.” There’s a 19th century period-piece steam emerging from this tale!
Getting back to “Just What I Needed” for a second… What’s with the “I needed someone to feed” line in the choruses? Now, your grown-up Shirley Temple is a chick in the nest being force-fed worms retrieved by her parents? Yuck!
As for Lady Gergely’s reported complaint that “Sugar Magnolia” is an enabler, sure, but I’m going through a rough stretch, man. How about we agree on this: I won’t judge you for losing your mind over your lost weekend with “Just What I Needed,” if you won’t judge me for dancing a Cajun rhythm with my “Sugar Magnolia” when nothing else is going right.
Are we cool?