Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chrome Dumping Makes You a Man

We — Ian, Teh 'Bride and I — had a hard time getting together with my brother and sister-in-law to exchange gifts this Christmas season — schedule conflicts were worse than ever this year.

We finally hooked up two weekends ago at their condo in Center City Philadelphia.

So while SiL and Teh 'Bride talked girl talk over in the corner, and Ian just generally ran around like an idiot, Teh 'Bro and I sat and kinda watched the football games (with the TV sound off because we didn't care who won since Teh Iggles had already been eliminated because they blow) and listened to the SiL's iPod shuffling its way through various songs, as iPods are wont to do.

At one point, "I'm a Man"1 comes on, and I know it's the Chicago Transit Authority version because it has that distinctive opening bass line to it. And I say to Teh 'Bro, "Who did this one originally? Spencer Davis?"

And he sez, "I always thought this was a Chicago original."

Losing confidence in myself, I pussyishly concede early, saying, "Maybe I'm confusing it with some other song by them."

So we both appeal to Teh SiL2, asking her, "Was this a Chicago Transit Authority original?"

And she says, "Yeah, I think Teh 'Bro3 is right: This is an original song by Chicago."

So I stood corrected.

For the time being.

Luckily, you don't just get to vote on what is factually true and then get to believe whatever answer garners the majority or plurality of votes4. There is in theory still this nagging necessity of holding your beliefs up to the harsh light of what we laughingly call "the real world" to see if they — your beliefs — stand up to the scrutiny that comes with that juxtaposing and consequent comparison.

Well, long story short, the "I'm-a-Man"-is-a-Chicago-T-A-original belief did not stand up to this scrutiny  ... that is, once I got around to scrutinizing it. Which I didn't remember to do until like a couple days ago, or roughly 10 days after the fact.

Because — guess what?— "I'm a Man" was indeed originally performed by Stevie Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group.

And I confirmed this by going to Youtube and finding this:

There is, of course, very little point in doing something like this — revisiting an old dispute and finding out you were in fact not on the losing end of that argument, but the winning end —  unless you intend to rub it in the face of the "victors" as you belatedly and callously strip them of their Victory Crown; which I did by e-mailing my findings to Teh 'Bro and Teh SiL5.

I softened the blow by pointing out that whoever posted this particular youtube video of the SDG doing "I'm a Man" included the lyrics, which I never knew — other than the "I'm a man, yes I am and I can't help but love you so" part. This lyrical ignorance is not my fault, though, because in both the SDG version and the CTA version, the various singers sing the song pretty mush-mouthedly6.

But what really caught my eye was this last verse:
I got to keep my image
While suspended from a throne
That looks out upon a kingdom
Full of people all unknown
Who imagine I'm not human
And my heart is made of stone
I never had no problems
And my toilet's trimmed with chrome7
I pointed out to Teh 'Bro what lucky bastards S. Winwood and the rest of the SDG were; because you know you've really hit the REALLY BIG TIME when you're taking dumps on toilets trimmed with chrome8.

He agreed.

I think this lyrical observation helped him get over how wrong he was and how the moral of this story is that he and his wife should NEVER doubt me on issues of Faith, Morals, and Music, because I'm infallible when speaking ex cathedra, which just means "from the seat".

And I think you know which chrome-trimmed seat I mean.

Here's the three-hour-long Chicago Version of "I'm a Man":

1 No, not the Bo Diddley song. The other one. There's no spelling test in the one I'm talking about1a so I approve of it. Whereas Bo asks you to spell "Man". And he takes his time about it. "That's spelled M" ... musical interlude ... "A" .... more music ... come on, Bo, say it Say It Fuckin' SAY IT — SAY "N"!

And then, finally, "N".

Bo's song is just too stressful for me.

1a Though in some versions, there is a short test of state capitals at the end.

2 Yes, only Teh SiL, not Teh 'Bride. Because when it comes to music from the '60s — or, for that matter, any music that involves human agency of any kind, by which I mean music that was not completely created by synthesizers and computers and autotuners to make "stars" out of "singers" who have rock hard bodies and can dance a bit but can't, strictly speaking, sing — when it comes, as I was saying, to actual music, Teh 'B., sad to say, is utterly useless. She hates music made (sung; played) by real flesh and blood people. So we did not appeal to her in this dispute.

And she was glad of it.

3 She didn't actually call Teh 'Bro this. She called him "The second-sexiest Heisenberg."

Tough shit, SiL! You're too late! You had you chance with me! You made your choice!

4 Unless you're a fundamentalist Christian and the issue is Evolution. Then ... it's Fuck The Facts. (But marry them first.)

5 Yes. I am that much of a dick.

Have we met?

6 Steve Winwood sings everything mush-mouthedly.

I suspect he's a genuine mush-mouth.

7 I am not convinced these are the actual words SW sings, but every site I cross-referred these lyrics with had either these lyrics or CTA's variant (see FN8, below). So this assertion w/r/t the toilet/chrome lyric is hereby elevated to the level of "fact" by popular acclaim, despite what I say about facts and voting supra.

8 Chicago Transit Authority never made it this big because they changed this line to "And my body's pretty strong". But don't cry for their collective colons, because it's possible that, on those "Saturday[s] in the Park",  the Chi-town guys just waited till no one was looking, went behind a tree, dropped trou and took a dump there. No chrome, but, hey, at least they're not holding it in.

Because isn't that what that song is secretly about? If not, what, exactly, do these lyrics mean:

Singing Italian songs
Eicay vare, eise narde
Can you dig it? Yes I can

That's Italian for, "Excuse me while I void my bowels behind that shrub!"

The song then goes on to ask whether you can dig that and you, blissfully ignorant of what you're about to agree to dig, groovily reply that you can, indeed, dig it.

I don't blame you for feeling betrayed.

Real Classy, Chicago guys!

And if you ever get the opportunity to take on a dump in a toilet trimmed with chrome, you really ought to go for it. It's possible, if you're not used to such cloacal luxury, that you might not be able to go, due to ... um ... O, let's just say "performance anxiety".

Know what I hear helps in those situations?


Yeah, you'll be pooping in a jiify8a.

8a As it were.


  1. I believe the point of "my toilet's trimmed with chrome" was that the band was put on a pedestal by the public, who imagined they were like gods. Lyrics aside, this and Gimme Some Lovin were two of the monster hits of the 1960s, both products of Steve Winwood's enormous musical talent.

  2. "Eicay vara, eise narde" is not italian, but actually sicillian. it translates to "drop trou, uncover nuts [testicals]", which really means the same thing, but i just wanted to point out the nuances and strip you of your victory crown.

    thanks for the carrot shout