Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Great Song: "Be My Lover" - Alice Cooper - 1971

alice cooper 1971
photograph by Pete Turner
I'm pretty biased when it comes to Alice Cooper. If a record comes out, I buy it, I play it over and over and I generally love it all.  I've seen Alice Cooper live repeatedly and will continue to do so until he finally shuffles off this mortal coil. Still, I have to admit, Alice Cooper the man is bested by Alice Cooper the band. And 1971's Killer is probably the finest record they ever released. And the best number on Killer: "Be My Lover."

Written by rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, "Be My Lover" is a great story song, a snippet of what could have been any day in any member of the band's life. Heralded with a riff more than a little reminiscent of "Sweet Jane," the immaculately phrased lyric is introduced across thirty seconds before the rest of the band kicks in:

She struts into the room / well, I don't know her / but with a magnifying glance / I just sort of look her over / we have a drink or two / well, maybe three / and then suddenly / she starts telling me her life story...

The chorus itself is hooky as can be but the genius lies in the simple storytelling of the individual verses. Again, it's a Lou Reed-style stream of consciousness but without any of the heavy, sardonic irony. The bridge following the chorus is pure genius and then we're treated to the best damn lines in Cooper's entire discography:

I told her that I came / from Detroit City / and I played guitar / in a long-haired rock and roll band / she asked me why / the singer's name was Alice / I said listen, baby / you really wouldn't understand...

Add in a big, exaggerated show tune ending and you have one hell of a great song.

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