She’s As Beautiful As A Foot

Speaking of Sirius…

I’ve got the world’s noisiest car.  When originally introduced, it came sans radio, to SAVE WEIGHT!  You see you didn’t want anything to impede performance.  In other words, they left the sound insulation out.  The stereo installer told me he could line the floor, where most of the noise was coming in, but then…you had the pesky weight problem.  So I stopped with Acoustimat in the doors.

Around town, I’ve got a pleasure dome.  Top of the line components and enough watts to overpower ambient noise with the sunroof open.  But get me on the freeway…  I can barely hear a thing.

And since Sirius plays a bit louder than XM, I’ve been experimenting with it on the highway.  But oftentimes, there’s a familiar song playing and I don’t even recognize it until I hit the off-ramp.  Like today.

I was offended when I accelerated from the 405 to the 101, when the deejay on the Vault used some radioese to tell me they had the largest playlist in the known world.  Wrong.  Hell, XM’s Deep Tracks is MUCH deeper.  But the stations are different.

You see there aren’t that many deejays on satellite.  And their biases come through.  That New York sound, with the harder edge, I don’t hear that often on XM.  But those records I grew up with that I haven’t heard in ages, that were localized to the east coast, they’re always surprising me on Sirius.  Like today, when I heard "She’s A Beautiful As A Foot".

If you ask me, it was downhill after the very first Blue Oyster Cult album.  Oh, I bought them all, through the hit "Don’t Fear The Reaper" and after.  I only stopped with the one with "Godzilla".  It was as if I looked myself in the mirror and finally accepted they were never going to make another great record.

But that very first…

I was living in Vermont.  There were no FM stations, even if you had a receiver.  Except for the college station.  Which I wouldn’t listen to on a dare.  Even before the upperclassmen who put me on as the boy king graduated and my peers marginalized me to the point where I quit.  You see the deejays had no taste.  It was endless Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead.  And my tastes were wider.

My left field discovery freshman year was "Gasoline Alley", and its predecessor.  Even after Rod Stewart had his hit, his mug on my wall went unrecognized by almost everyone.  I’d purchased those records based on reviews, in "Rolling Stone".  And that’s why I bought the very first Blue Oyster Cult album.  It wasn’t that they said it was great, it was where the writer was coming from.  Like he wasn’t in the pages of "Rolling Stone", but was a guy living in the house next door.  Who had gone weird in high school.  Who was just a bit further out there.

Now I know I was right.  The masterminds of Blue Oyster Cult were Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer (who was Lester Bangs before Lester).  I can relate to these guys in real life, but only so much.  The Island is not that different from Connecticut.  But they weren’t playing it straight, they weren’t getting good grades to get into a good college, they were coasting along in the mainstream and EXPERIMENTING in the netherworld.

I got the Blue Oyster Cult debut this same time of year.  Just before spring finals.  You remember finals.  There’s study week, and then tests.  The schedule is completely different, you’re in limbo, time is your own, but there’s a heightened sense of anxiety, because what’s happening now COUNTS!

And it’s just about this time of year that it gets warm in northern Vermont.  You start to feel exuberant, but you’ve got this little academic problem, preventing you from being free.

Blue Oyster Cult’s debut was my soundtrack to this time.

The killer on the first album is "Cities On Flame With Rock & Roll".  Every bit as good as the anthems of the era, but without the success.  The blistering fretwork, the treated vocals and the catchy chorus, it was an instant classic.  In my mind anyway.

But the weirdest, the creepiest number, preceded it, "She’s As Beautiful As A Foot".

So it’s late afternoon in Voter Hall, where I’m living with my roommate Lyndon.  It was a science building, but it had just been converted to a coed dorm.  One with pods of domiciles around a central lounge.  Not that we wanted to live there, the rooms were small, but we both had shitty numbers.  And I’m making my way around Lyndon’s water bed to my rack of LPs, and I hear this line…

She’s as beautiful as a foot

That had to be wrong.  God, it made no sense.  I had a great turntable, but the quality of the rest of my components…

I started concentrating…

She’s as beautiful as a foot
She’s as beautiful as a foot
She heard somebody say, the other day

Well, how beautiful IS a foot?  All these years later, I’m thinking maybe someone had a fetish.  I mean feet aren’t beautiful, right?  And it’s not like the narrator is saying it to himself, he OVERHEARD IT!  Where the fuck WAS HE?

Didn’t believe it when he bit into her face
Didn’t believe it when he bit into her face
It tasted just like a fallen arch

These lines I needed the printout to confirm.

Not every album came with a lyric sheet.  Hell, oftentimes it COST too much.  And if the lyrics were dumb, nobody included them.  But on the cover of this Blue Oyster Cult album it said you could SEND AWAY for the lyrics.  Which I did.  And they came back on COMPUTER PAPER, green and white striped, with perforations on the edges.  This was back before THERE WAS SUCH THING AS A PERSONAL COMPUTER!

Why the hell would he bite into her face?

And "She’s As Beautiful As A Foot" did not sound like Slipknot, or the rest of today’s excessive metal.  It was quiet and dreamy, a trip down a silent river in the dark.

But the bit about the fallen arch, that was just plain FUNNY!  There was humor in music back in the seventies.  That’s gone now.  Intellectual irreverence has been supplanted by the posing of Paris Hilton and her troupe.  It’s cool to be dumb.  Blue Oyster Cult, or Richard Meltzer, who appeared to have written these lyrics, was SMART!

Don’t put your tongue on the bloody tooth mark place
Don’t put your tongue on the bloody tooth mark place
Her face changing now, a Guernsey cow

This was pre-AIDS.  You weren’t worried about blood.  Was this a vampire reference?  Or had someone marked his territory and you best stay away?  And the change into a cow, a GUERNSEY no less, was this a Picasso reference, to Demoiselles D’Avignon, which I’d just been mesmerized by in Art 102?

And then it was over.

Funny, "She’s As Beautiful As A Foot" works WITHOUT the lyrics.  The music is riveting enough, especially the break in the middle, where the track accelerates and intensifies, before slowing right back down to the speed it once was.  "She’s As Beautiful As A Foot" is an enigma.

I saw Blue Oyster Cult open that spring for Alice Cooper at Boston’s Music Hall.  What a double bill!  Alice killed.  But the audience…it wasn’t familiar with the boys from Long Island.  The guitarist was wearing a white suit.  Live, they were sans charisma, and the vocals were less than perfect, far from dominant.  But that first record, I’ve never gotten over it.

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