Don't Puss Out on the Rock
Bex Schwartz

Surely you've heard Sheryl Crow's summer splash single, "Soak Up The Sun." If you listen to a lot of Top 40 or "adult contemporary" or you watch a lot of VH1, or just spend a lot of time in K-Mart stores, you've probably been smacked in the face with this innocuous little pop tune over a zillion times since last May. It's a cheerful little ditty about summertime, when the livin' is easy, and Sheryl gains bonus points for asking Liz Phair to sing backup. In the time-honored tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Gene Simmons, and Bono, Sheryl urges the listener to go out and live life, to have fun and rock out. She sings,

"I'm gonna soak up the sun / I'm gonna tell everyone to lighten up / I'm gonna soak up the sun."

And she sings it over and over and over again. Hear this, World, and repeat it later: Sheryl Crow wants you to stop worrying and to have more fun and just go out and relax and enjoy and soak up that goddamned Mr. Sun.

"Yay," the listener thinks. "Finally! Someone who's not worried about anything - fuck skin cancer! Fuck melanoma! I'm a-gonna go outside and soak me up some sun."

But then, Sheryl waxes precautious. The final couplet of her song is: "I've got my 45 on so I can rock on." The careful listener contemplates, attempting to grok. Does she have a particular 45 on, perhaps the 45 of "Purple People Eater" that she stole from her big sister? Maybe a Brimful of Asha? Or, is it that Sheryl can only relax when she's got her .45 on? Is she packing heat to make sure that no one destroys her serene sun-soaking? No! No! It's nothing of the sort! Sheryl is qualifying her entire heliotropic paean with the admonition that, when sun-soaking, one must wear SPF 45 sunblock. SPF 45??!! That's like wearing a fucking sweatsuit. So, the careful listener deducts, Sheryl wants everyone to lighten up and relax but at the same time be 100% careful against any breaches of safety and correctness. With SPF 45 on, Sheryl can certainly cut loose and rock on. But she's ruining all that is rock!

An analogy: Soaking up the Sun is to SPF 45 what Nightswimming is to Wait One Hour After Eating Before Using Pool.

1       [2]       [3]       [next->]

October 2002

jay's head
josh ring