Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blast from the Past - PJ Harvey

This post first appeared on August 23, 2006. But now that I've discovered the video is available on YouTube, it seemed worth a revisit. The original title was "Great Random Moments in Rock History:"

Number One:
PJ Harvey on the Tonight Show

I can't pinpoint the exact date, but it was sometime in the early 1990s, probably 92-93.

Polly Jean performed solo that night, and apparently the NBC standards bureau (censors) hadn't taken too close a look at the lyrics of the song she sang, "Rid of Me." She looked great on stage, and began the song, slowly and quietly.

Tie yourself to me
No one else, no
You're not rid of me
You're not rid of me

One can just imagine Jay sitting at this desk, probably thinking, "oh, a breakup song." The danger in her voice now begins to become apparent, and the guitar gets a little louder.

Night and day I breathe
Hah hah ay hey
You're not rid of me
Yeah you're not rid of me
I beg you my darling
Don't leave me
I'm hurting

And then the bridge, and you're thinking that she can't possibly sing those lines on television, but sure enough, and in the harshest falsetto voice you're ever going to hear.

Lick my legs and I'm on fire
Lick my legs and I'm desire

If Jay is paying attention, it's probably becoming clear to him that the protagonist of this song is not a happy woman. The next verse makes clear just how unhappy.

I'll tie your legs
Keep you against my chest
Oh you're not rid of me
Yeah you're not rid of me
I'll make you lick my injuries
I'm gonna twist your head off, see
Till you say don't you wish you never never met her

Which is probably what Jay was thinking about this time. But, ever the gentleman, there is a brief interview, and the shell-shocked look on Jay's face makes it obvious that by now he's thinking, "what can I possibly ask this woman?"

Amazingly enough, PJ is invited back. But nothing will ever top this, her first appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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