Showing posts with label Songs About the Wild Side. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Songs About the Wild Side. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wild Civility

The soundtrack to the film Pretty Woman (1990) contains Christopher Otcasek’s cover version of Johnny O’Keefe’s 1958 hit, “The Wild One” in its retitled form, “Real Wild Child (Wild One).” The serendipitous linkage is highly revealing, as it suggests that “wildness,” as opposed to “civility,” concerns the projection of proper social behavior, that is, decorum (social appearance), or what we now call “image management.” For the dramatic intrigue of Pretty Woman revolves around the issue of how to behave properly, socially speaking. The special problem of the film is how the Julia Roberts character, a prostitute, must learn proper social decorum from below. Rather like Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady), she must make the difficult transition from an ill-mannered street waif (low) to proper lady (high). But the story demands she make this complex negotiation from (private) individual goodness to (public) spiritual elegance (conferred by exposure to “high” culture, such as opera) look easy, and eventually commit to a higher love (monogamy).

Robert Herrick’s much-anthologized poem, “Delight in Disorder,” from which the expression “wild civility” comes, is a poem that interrogates Neoclassical assumptions of decorum—that is, the management of social appearances, the courtier’s emulation of correct models of behavior as set forth by Castiglione (and others). Herrick expresses a certain erotic interest in women who exhibit a “wild civility,” or, in modern parlance, engage in “double articulation,” speaking two different messages to two audiences using one (symbolic) utterance. “Wildness” as such therefore might be understood as a form of Bakhtinian “carnival,” mocking and subverting the mainstream culture rather than a form of “harmless” fun. Hence being “wild” isn’t just about having fun, but about mockery and subterfuge.

What Some Wild Things Are:
.38 Special – Wild-Eyed Southern Boys
The Beach Boys – Wild Honey
Brook Benton – Walk on the Wild Side (from the motion picture)
Donald Byrd – Wild Life
Marshall Crenshaw – Little Wild One (No. 5)
Duran Duran – The Wild Boys
The Escape Club – Wild Wild West
INXS – Wild Life
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch – Wildside
Paul McCartney & Wings – Wild Life
Mötley Crüe – Wild Side
Johnny O’Keefe – The Wild One AKA Real Wild Child (Wild One)
The Peddlers – Walk on the Wild Side
Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side
Dan Seals – (You Bring Out) The Wild Side of Me
Slaughter – The Wild Life
Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
Talking Heads – Wild Wild Life
Hank Thompson – The Wild Side of Life
The Troggs – Wild Thing