Monday, September 8, 2008

A Head With Hair

Perhaps because our society largely judges one another by appearances, clothes, weight, and hair are crucial factors contributing to what is known as “body image.” Perhaps that explains why, for as long as I can remember, hair has been so frequently referred to in lyrics to popular songs. When I was a small boy, Elvis’s hair was a topic of conversation: he used oils and creams to “grease” his hair, in imitation of black men who used oils and creams to straighten their hair in order for it to look like white men’s hair. Soon after, the Beatles’ hair became a controversial issue, and soon after that hippies and their (long) hair became a subject of controversy. In the 1970s, rock stars preferred “blow-dried” hair; subsequently, in the 1980s, hair dryers and gels contributed to the cultivated image of what are now referred to as “hair bands.” For as long as I can remember, hair has received as much attention as clothes and weight.

There are lots of songs about hair; there has even been a list compiled of songs about hair. If one is only concerned about compiling songs with the word "hair" in the title, then the list might remain rather short. But songs about hair are far more plentiful than such a narrowly defined list might suggest. Hence I have also set out to compile a list of songs about hair, but I have not felt especially compelled to limit my choices to mere titles, but to crucial references to hair in the lyrical content. To the aforementioned list, I add the list below, not exhaustive by any means, but a good indication of the extent to which hair is frequently invoked more than titles alone might indicate, and in ways that might be surprising. Hair isn’t simply eroticized or fetishized in these songs: it is a sign of individuality, non-conformity, but also a form of sexual innuendo.

America – Sister Golden Hair
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Hair Pie: Bake 1 and Hair Pie: Bake 2
Johnny Burnette – You’re Sixteen
Rodney Carrington – The Pubic Hair Song
The Cowsills – The Rain, The Park & Other Things
Elvis (Presley) – Treat Me Nice
Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
Stephen Foster – Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
Hall & Oates – Sara Smile
Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
Waylon Jennings – Amanda
George Jones – Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport
Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
Nazareth – Hair of the Dog
Dolly Parton – Jolene
Gene Pitney – She Lets Her Hair Down
Jimmie Rodgers – Honeycomb
Kenny Rogers and The First Edition – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Night Moves
Sammi Smith – Help Me Make It Through the Night
Sonny and Cher – I Got You Babe
Conway Twitty – I’d Love to Lay You Down
Leroy Van Dyke – I Fell In Love With a Pony Tail
Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London


Tim Lucas said...

Of course, The Cowsills also recorded "Hair."

Bent said...

Always thought the casual remark in the "Almost Cut My Hair" lyrics (off Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Deja Vu) that leaving one's hair long was tantamount to "letting my freak flag fly" was a great line which encapsulated a lot of insight about 60s counterculture style and attitude...