Misogyny is abhorrent. “Misogyny” is awesome. The quotation marks, of course, indicate that in the second instance I’m referring to the song released on Rusty’s Fluke album in 1995. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s one of my favourite songs by a Canadian artist, ever.
It’s so raw. It’s so relentless. That charging drum pattern and those chugging power chords that just jump in before the beat, they all charge the song forward like a john running from a pissed-off pimp. (That reference just seemed right in the context of the video.)* It feels like the song is constantly leaning forward. Ken MacNeil sounds like his vocal cords are made of sand paper. And I have no idea what he’s talking about. You can’t understand what he’s saying half the time. And I have no idea what the song has to do with misogyny, if anything. Frankly, I don’t even care what it’s about. I just love how it sounds and how it makes me feel.
That’s how I’ve always felt about music. I rarely pay any attention to lyrics. Which is probably a weird admission for a writer to make. The words don’t matter to me. How they’re sung matters to me. The melody matters. The timbre and cadence matter. If they were glorifying actual misogyny that would be a different story. But I don’t care if lyrics are nonsense, as long as it all sounds cool. (With exceptions, of course; every once in a while some lyrics will hit me.)
This song brings me back to a really vital time for Canadian music. And that sentence makes me wonder if I’m only saying that because it was sort of “my time,” generationally speaking. I was in university, in my early 20s. Music was my life. If I wasn’t at school or reading, I was listening to music. Or I was reading while listening to music. Or I was reading about music. Or I was learning about music at school. Or I was playing guitar.
So, yes, I’m aware of my bias. I know there are awesome things happening in Canadian music right now. But back then it seemed like we had emerge
d from a really quiet time for Canadian music. In the 80s there were sort of hair bands like Honeymoon Suite and Platinum Blonde (both of which I liked, don’t get me wrong), throw in a Glass Tiger here and there, a Bryan Adams or two, but then things slowly seemed to get more, I don’t know, vital when The Tragically Hip crept up, and then came Sloan as the early 90s hit. And then it seemed like the floodgates opened for Canadian rock, led by bands like Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party and I Mother Earth. Big Sugar, too. And there were amazing “smaller” bands like Thrush Hermit, The Gandharvas, Odds, Econoline Crush, and tons of others. Later in the 90s there was Matthew Good, The New Meanies and Wide Mouth Mason. Oh, and Moist. A lot of people liked Moist. They didn’t work for me. But it just felt good to see so much great rock and roll come out of Canada, whether they cared about it elsewhere in the world or not. It was our thing. Our home and native rock.
There were sweaty Edgefests each July where a lot of these bands got together for all-day shows. And smaller shows at places like The Warehouse (now the Kool Haus, but soon to close its doors), The Horseshoe and (my favourit
e) Lee’s Palace. Somehow, though, I don’t think I ever saw Rusty play live. I do remember watching them one winter when MuchMusic held some sort of outdoor winter festival in Banff or something. I remember watching them freezing on a small stage and wondering how you got your fingers to do what you wanted them to do on a guitar when you’re that cold. And I remember thinking I was game to find out. It would’ve been so cool to be a part of that in some small way, that whole 90s Canadian rock scene. Later, I wound up in a fun band with a girl who would go on to marry the lead singer of The Gandharvas. That’s as close as I came. But it was fun to watch.
* Oddly, YouTube did not have the full version of the video. The version embedded here is shortened. Which sucks.