David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 43: Adam Ant (Goody Two Shoes)

June 8, 2020

If I forget to turn on shuffle on my iTunes when I play music on my computer, I always first get "Goody Two Shoes," by Adam Ant, because the songs are ordered by artist.  It is always a pleasant mistake, and inevitably I wait to turn on shuffle until I can hear "Goody Two Shoes" the whole through.

It's a song so easy to love and know by its chorus, catchy as hell, and by the relentless percussion and drumming that defined Ant even when he was with Adam And The Ants.  Inevitably I associate the song with Ant as hound dog, trying to seduce a lovely lady:

"Goody two, goody two, goody goody two shoes/

Goody two, goody two, goody goody two shoes/

Don't drink, don't smoke/what do you do?/

Don't drink, don't smoke/what do you do?/

Subtle innuendoes follow, there must be something inside."

Of course, that association comes from the hugely popular video that has Ant winning the prim reporter by the end of the song.

However, the verses depict a much broader context and one, I have to admit, that until I heard it this weekend, I never knew, as I hadn't really thought about the lyrics or looked more into Ant's biography.

Ant, famous for being at the forefront of an MTV-Inspired visually-powered new wave, is the goody two shoes!

How the hell had I missed this? Even without knowing, as I have since read, that, influenced by Muhammad Ali, he has never drank, done drugs or smoked1, I now see the lyrics are clearly about him: "put on a little makeup" for hiding heartbreak; "we don't follow fashion/that would be a joke/you know we're going to set them, set them/so everyone can take note;" "Look out or they'll tell you/you're a superstar/Two weeks and you're an all-time legend/I think the games have gone much too far."

How the hell did I miss the masterpiece of self-revelation, of the price that comes with fame, that shows the song's much more profound message?  For years I thought he was singing, "pretending that you're out of cream/out of cream," not "pretending that you're Al Green/Al Green."  Wow! And I had the audacity to tease my dad about bungled lyrics.

As a defense, just know I am not a huge Adam Ant fan. I have The Essential Adam Ant collection, mostly to have this song, "Strip," and "Desperate, But Not Serious."  Luckily it revealed another 4 or 5 great songs, almost all that have that definitive Ant music, percussion on top of percussion, flamboyance on top of flamboyance. Still, the CD comes with no lyrics and I just never felt the urge to look for them.  Shame on me.

I like to think many listeners completely missed it on this one: that drumming, that onslaught of the horns, and the guitar licks all create such a huge hook that we are reeled, in the boat, and skinned before we really know what has happened to us.  The chorus is so big and the verses throw in similarly catchy phrases that stand out from the full ideas: "good side/good side," "pound note/pound note," "who to eat with/who to sleep with." The make-up and the fashion were truly distracting. I am also now less surprised by Ant's comeback hit, "Wonderful." He was always wonderful.

1 - 'Goody Two Shoes' Adam Ant Explains Why He Stayed Sober His Entire Career. Okura, Lynn. Huffpost 2.14.14

"Goody Two Shoes." Adam Ant. Friend Or Foe. CBS. 1982. Link here.

Day 42: Holly Cole "I Don't Wanna Grow Up."

Day 44: Cheap Trick "Heaven Tonight."

See complete list here.