Sunday, January 10, 2010

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN POPULAR SONG NO. 4


DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?

“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” is the third single and the 9th track taken from Culture Club’s debut album, “Kissing to be Clever” from 1982. It was not intended for release by the band and Boy George (A.K.A. George O’Dowd), the singer and lyricist of Culture Club, even threatened to leave the band if the record label insisted on releasing the song as its content is deeply personal to him. Controversially, Boy George and Culture Club’s drummer, Jon Moss had a clandestine affair for 6 years, a situation which often left Boy George feeling deeply hurt and compromised. With these facts in mind, I shall now attempt to unravel the true meaning of Boy George’s lyrics and answer the question “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” once and for all.

There are two radio edits of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, one starts softly with an acapella intro: “Give me time, To realise my crime, Let me love and steal, I have danced inside your eyes, How can I be real?” By contrast the other version launches straight into the chorus after two staccato chords as introduction, akin to two swift punches to the chest and immediately confronts you with two loaded questions: “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” and “Do You Really Want to Make Me Cry?”

Questions which cannot fail to affect; we have all been hurt by someone in our past, some of you less fortunate individuals may be hurting as you read this; it is not unusual. If we consider Boy George’s plight at the time of writing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” we can all surely sympathise. Despite rarely wishing to, hurting those closest and most dear to us seems traumatically inevitable; even more distressing however, is the pain inflicted upon us, often by those same people: and so it goes, back and forth, forever…

Boy George and the rest of Culture Club fell out eventually, Boy George’s infamous drug abuse and consequent erratic behaviour, no doubt has played a major part in the breakdown of the band’s relationship. I also feel that amongst the chaos exacerbated by substance abuse, the pain and anguish Jon Moss (most likely, unwittingly) inflicted onto poor old Boy, still governs the whole of Mr. O’Dowd’s being and existence. In an interview about the release of his autobiography, “Take it Like a Man” Boy George said: “In writing the autobiography, I can really chuckle when I look at the songs. I was acting out the part. I saw myself as a victim.”

You know what? I very much doubt that George often “chuckles” about it, really, I mean with sincerity. Jon Moss certainly doesn’t find Boy George’s state of mind and bruised ego in the slightest bit chucklesome: "He's like a nightmare ex-wife. This guy's being rude about me all the time. I've lived with it for years and I've just had enough…"

What I’m alluding to here is of course that while Boy George has been taking it a step, a step too far, what he really meant was: “In my heart the fire’s burning” and whereas he could have wasted a thousand years wrapped in token sorry words, instead he’s prepared to let Jon go. So what exactly have the last 24 years been about Boy? The answer is “No” Boy, Jon really didn’t want to hurt you; he just did. People just do. At least he didn’t kidnap you, tie you up and beat you with a metal chain.

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