David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 170: Rod Stewart (Do Ya Think I'm Sexy)

August 2, 2022

"Charlie Sheen's Daughter Starts OnlyFans Account," screams my Yahoo feed. "Who Cares?" I want to scream back, or even more importantly, "Who's Surprised?"

The videos offered through my FaceBook "Watch" option are overwhelmingly attention-starved individuals, often barely clothed, who want me to join their thousands of followers, enticing me with pointlessly long clips that tease and taunt but never deliver. Unless they can help my golf swing, no thanks (I already get plenty of those, too, not that they are helping my swing).

Luckily, I don't Instagram or SnapChat, so I have no idea what Influencers I am missing. 

'Such a vain generation," I think. Or, maybe, more accurately, 'Such a spoiled generation.' Why, in my day, we had to put on a pair of tight black spandex and a leopard shirt and get in front of audiences in huge arenas to ask that question: "do ya think I'm sexy?" And if you were in your mid-thirties, there was absolutely nothing creepy about it. I guess it worked: Rocker Rod Stewart sold about 2 million copies of the single "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"1 (annotations are for you, Only Fans-ers and Influencers). Take that Charlie Sheen's daughter (for the record, I refuse to look up her name).

Maybe it was just me and my slightly narrow-minded clique in 1978, but we hated everything about the song. Stewart had already seemed on a slow descent in terms of record qualities ever since the spectacular "Maggie May," each following single a slightly cheesier production. We probably thought he couldn't get any lower than "Hot Legs" released not long before "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." However, he did seem to go lower. Let's start with the fact that the song was disco2, 'nuff said, and add in that we ignored the narrative through the verses to focus on Stewart literally asking his audience, through the chorus, over and over, if they think he's sexy. It didn't help that the promotional video3 showed Stewart shaking his spandex-ass while his band adopted stereotypical rock-star4 poses.

It's too bad my friends and I ignored that narrative.

First, we should have appreciated the nervousness of meeting up with strangers in bars and clubs5, wondering if the cute girl with the fruity drink was interested in us; and, secondly, we should have appreciated the subtle details that make the narrative quite funny. "She sits alone waiting for suggestions" is the opening line, a pretty good opening line for a song that is the ultimate opening line. "Give me a dime6 so that I can call my mother7," the girl requests before they dash off to his high-rise apartment. In the final scene, as they awake from their night together, he admits "I'm out of milk and coffee never mind sugar we can watch the early movie8," and we ponder if the "sugar" is the accoutrement or still the term of endearment.

Stewart co-wrote the song with two other guys, one of which is the very famous, full-street-cred, drummer Carmen Appice. All of them claim the song was written mostly in fun. Trust me, I still don't particularly crave hearing the song, but I can value it more than I did at 16.

The song was Top 5 in 16 countries,9 so it is no slouch. When places as different as Norway, Portugal, France and New Zealand all buy a song, that is enough adoration to serve as sexy.

And it got Rod Stewart a really bizarre Chips Ahoy commercial. Now that's being an Influencer, old school.

1A "single" was how musicians used to release songs, usually on a 45 with an A-side and a B-side. I don't have time to annotate the details of this annotation.

2Disco was a divisive musical style of the late 1970s, probably based as much upon racism as anything else, even if it was a bunch of white Aussies who really made it popular.

3Promotional videos accompanied singles, exploding in the early 1980s with Music Television, shortened to MTV. Yeah, that MTV, showing at this moment yet another re-run of Ridiculousness while you read this.

4Where do I begin? Rock was a form of music, highlighted by lots of guitar and actual people drumming. Unfortunately, they were often accompanied by a few basic poses. If you know the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I can understood your confusion here.

5Bars and clubs are where men and women, or men and men, or women and women, used to meet up and hook up. A darker, smellier, stickier version of Tinder.

6A dime was equal to 10 cents. Actual currency, ranging from pennies to 100-dollar bills, were often carried around as a way to pay for stuff.

7Calls, in the days before cell phones, often had to be done through payphones, which took a dime for a local call. Note, also, the quaintness of the young lady telling her mother she was going to stay the night with some rich guy she met in a bar. Manners -- we loved them back then.

8Back in the day, we only had a few television channels and no 24-hours of any single content. Time late at night and early in the morning was often filled with old movies. Odds are, Stewart was referencing "The Ghost And Mr. Chicken."

9Weekly charts were kept of the biggest hits each week for each country. There was even something called a "Countdown" each weekend. If I could explain how those charts were tabulated, I'd be a rocket scientist.

Stewart, Rod. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." Blondes Have More Fun. Warner Brothers, 1978. Link here.

Day 169: Paul Simon "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes"

Day 171: Ray Charles & Willie Nelson "It Was A Very Good Year"

See complete list here.