“infatuated with a lunatic and cornered by the muse, and it goes down every night this must be what jail is really like…”

If I Were Going:
What Should I Tell Her?
She’s Going To Ask
If I Ignore It, It Gets Uncomfortable
She’ll Want To Argue About The Past
Still I Think She Believes Me
Every Word I Say
I Think I’m Starting To Believe It All Myself
Go Ask The Gentlemen Who Play It
But Hate To Pay
And It Don’t Bleed, And It Don’t Breathe
It’s Locked Its Jaws & Now It’s Swallowing
It’s In Our Heart, It’s In Our Heads
It’s In Our Love, Baby, It’s In Our Bed
It Holds My Arms Down, Sits Upon My Chest
It Waves Its Finger At Me Every Night & Day
And It Don’t Rest
And It Don’t Breathe And It Don’t Bleed
It’s Locked Its Jaws And Now It’s Swallowing
It’s All A Lie, It’s Nearly Dead
It’s In Our Hope, Baby, It’s In Our Bed

Now You Know:
Since You’re Aware Of The Consequences
I Can Pimp What’s Left Of This Wreck On You
Bit Into A Rotten One, Now Didn’t You?
Now I Can Watch You Chew
Did You Have Blinders On My Dear
Or Were You Just Willing?
Or Was I Unaware Of The Damage A Lie Can Do?
I Thought You Knew

Listen Up
Drive It Off
Punctuate It With A Smoker’s Cough
Light It Up
Stick Around
I Told You Somebody’s Going Down Now
Spit It Up
Get It Out
Let Me Kiss That Beautiful Mouth
Tell Me Is It The Same?
My Sweetness, My Everything
And Is This Condescending A Comfort At All To You?
We Bit Into A Rotten One
Now Didn’t We?
Well, Baby Now It’s Through

the afghan whigs’ gentlemen was one of the best concept albums to come out of the 90s and a damn-near perfect breakup album.  greg dulli alternately purrs false intimacies and screams his scathing dark vision of a love gone wrong, with all the concomitant grandeur and ascerbic wit that accompanies the dissolution of a bad match for an inflated ego and intellect.  the narrative of the album charts the breakdown, starting with the “gentleman” protagonist ruminating about being stuck and which lie to use to cover his tracks while out trolling, mise en scene of the down slope of a love affair, planning his escape while he’s picking up the next easy mark:  “i got a dick for a brain and my brain is gonna sell my ass to you.”  then he’s caught, again, and lashing out just for sport of it, going through the motions of being angry just to indulge  their designated roles:  “you’re saying that the victim doesn’t want it to end, good, i get to dress up and play the assassin again, it’s my favorite, it’s got personality….”  despite its grim vision, the arc of the album allows for something like salvation, or the idea of it:  he may be unapologetic but the compulsion to repeat this cycle while mostly wallowing in muck, ultimately, belies the hope of striking gold.  maybe one time, it will pan out.

dulli is the ultimate performer & had a field day with the sadist/misogynist fairy tale he got to reenact on stage; one of my favorite live shows ever was seeing them at liberty lunch with the 1965 tour back in 1998, pink feather boa wrapped around him, prancing around to covers of lauryn hill’s ex factor and aaliyah’s are you that somebody, many of us having climbed up on speakers and whatever else we could, stomping and hooting along with him.  had the whigs peaked musically in a different time they could have been huge, but they came into their own with this album in ’93, when things like the blues and classic stories of sex, drugs and rock & roll were seen as excessive and gauche.  eddie vedder howled his lost boy stories and kurt cobain wore dresses and rotted himself from the inside out; emo was born and teenage wasteland revisited and dulli’s ranting about being a self-loathing, drunk, narcissistic lothario was never fully recognized for its genius.  while men sang about being frustrated, impotent little boys, dulli sang about being a red-blooded asshole and disappointment, getting out of control fucked up, and the compulsion to disentangle from one merely for the chance to do it again, exorcising the demons while reveling in them.

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