David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 275: The Stranglers (Peaches)

August 15, 2023

Recently, someone brought some peaches to work and left them on the table in the break room, alongside cookies and other non-fruit goodies that are there for first-come, first-served. The peaches were apparently local, better than anything we might find at our local Wal-Mart. I was surprised that we had any peach trees around here, given that Georgia has run out of peaches. It didn't take me long to remember that I really only like peaches after shaven and sliced. The skin really bothers my teeth.

However, none of those thoughts, with the exception of being articulated as an introduction to this blog, have been on my mind for the week these damn peaches have stared at me day in and day out from the break room. No, instead, my mind is obsessed with "Walking on the beaches/looking at the peaches," as accompanied by one of the heaviest bass lines ever and the kind of cheap sound produced by every garage band relying on the swaying Casio or Yamaha flimsy keyboard.

Think about it: everytime I go to get coffee, to heat up my lunch, to grab a paper towel, to make a copy, I have to see this:

And instead of thinking, "I should make a peach pie," or "that could be the basis for a lovely still life," I am remembering the lines from a punk song with lyrics that may honestly have no redeeming value. (Is that saying a lot, or not much, for punk?)

In case you don't know, "Peaches" was a 1977 hit, at least in England, for The Stranglers, who were riding the punk wave. The song is pretty much just sexual innuendo, all growled by the deeply disturbing vocals of Hugh Cornwell. Trust me, that chorus, if we can call it that, of "Walking on the beaches/looking at the peaches" is the least offensive part of the song. Female parts visualized by our narrator had to be replaced by "bikini" for radio play, as well as the word "shit" being edited out. I guess English censors were taking no chances with the innuendo, even forcing "what a bummer" to be replaced by "what a summer."

"Peaches" was even initially the b-side to the almost as provocative "(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)," which while basically a song about humility within the music industry certainly, when paired with "Peaches," could lead the adolescent mind to something else. Hey, there is a reason the bridge in "Peaches" talks about "worse places to be/like down in the streets/or down in the sewer/or even the end of a skewer."

While The Stranglers dabbled in a variety of musical styles that make them incredibly memorable and noteworthy within the history of rock 'n' roll, their song content took some time to emerge from the boys' bathroom. "Bring On The Nubiles," off of their second album, is about as subtle as its title, let alone "Peasant In The Big Shitty." By their fourth or fifth albums, their sexual fantasies were a little less misogynistic and a little more mature, as with the lovely "Golden Brown" or "European Female." Of course, my favorite of their albums, 1986's Dreamtime, meant they were completely bashed for straying from their origins. 

In the end, I can think of worst places to be. I could be remembering the "Peaches" of The Presidents Of The United States Of America. No, not Jimmy Carter's. That 1995 single called "Peaches" by the one-hit wonders named "The Presidents of The United States Of America" that frankly is an even more annoying testament to peaches, the actual fruit. "Peaches come from a can/they were put there by a man/in a factory downtown." No, I think I'd rather be "down in the sewer."

The Stranglers. "Peaches." Rattus Norvegicus. A&M, 1977. Link here.

Day 274: John Lennon "#9 Dream"

Day 276: Lone Justice "Shelter"

See complete list here.