Deconstructing Henry

A few weeks ago, I made fun of Kenny Loggins, the Urkel of Rock and Roll. He richly deserved this, of course, as anyone who actually sat through “Whenever I Call You Friend” can attest. In fact, he won an accompanying poll which pitted him against eight (count ’em, eight!) of the lamest acts imaginable. It says something about you when you out-lame Boz Skaggs, or at least it should. Not that I want anything bad to happen to Kenny Loggins, but when he passes on his headstone should read “Kenny Loggins, lamer than Boz Skaggs” and it should dispense coupons to visitors for 1% off of their next meal at Sizzler.

In a later comment, longtime reader Vonny mentioned the poll and said that, “[…] at least you could dance to Herman’s Hermits”, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with if you substitute the word “dance” with the words “drink hydrochloric acid”. Seriously, I think Kenny Loggins is lame, but I voted for Herman’s Hermits, an act so lame that Mr. Rogers once referred to them as “a bunch of pussy-ass, whiny motherfuckers. Five butt-plugs with instruments.” And in response to Vonny, I posted the following video as proof: (Note: I’d like to apologize for this in advance. Sorry, guys.)

On a enjoyment scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “Quite enjoyable” and 1 is “Totally unenjoyable”, I’d rank this video at negative 47 trillion (“I’d like to neuter the band members with a hot lobster fork”). Fuck me, do I hate that video. If I had to choose between watching this video five times in a row and eating sushi out of the ass of Gary Coleman’s corpse, I wouldn’t even bother to ask what kind of sushi it was. I’d grab a surgical mask and a pair of chopsticks before you could say the words “felony desecration of a grave”.

The first problem I have with this video is the very concept of the song itself. It’s just so fucking cutesy-wutesy that it makes me want to vomit. For those of you unable to understand the constant stream of dropped and unnecessarily added syllables that is the King’s English, here are the lyrics for the first verse:

I’m Henry VIII I am
Henry VIII I am, I am
I got married to the widow next door
She’s been married seven times before
And every one was a Henry (Henry!)
She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (No Sam!)
I’m her eighth old man, I’m Henry
Henry VIII I am

See what they did there? How fucking clever. This is how I imagine the conversation went when the producer of this song told Herman’s Hermits that they were going to record it.

Producer: Well, well, well, wot’s all this then?

Hermit #1: We’re bloody playin’ our instruments then, aren’t we?

Producer: Right! Well you can stop doin’ that, ya’ bloody gob, because I’ve got a monster ‘it for ya’.

Hermit #2: An ‘it?

Producer: Yeah, an ‘it! You know, as in “If you don’t fucking shut up, I’ll ‘it you in the bloody face, ya’ wanker!”

Hermit #2:  Ohhh, an ‘it! Why didn’t ya say so?

Hermit #3: Look, I don’t think we need an ‘it right now. We’re working on our own material. I’m working on something I call ‘Ey Jude, and Peter’s on to something with… ‘Ey, Peter, what’s that song you’re workin’ on?

Peter: Stairway To ‘Eaven.

Producer: Bullocks that, you’re recording ‘Enry VIII!

Hermit #1: You mean like the King, ‘Enry VIII?

Producer: No, that’s the twist, lads. It’s about a bloke named ‘Enry who marries some twat who married seven blokes named ‘Enry before ‘im! So he’s bloody well ‘Enry the VIII, i’nt ‘e?

Hermit #2:  That’s bloody well retarded, it is!

Producer: Well fuck you, ya’ sod. I’m the bloody producer, and I say you’re recordin’ it. So drop yer pricks, and pick up yer sticks because you’re goin’ to be bigger than Gerry and the Pacemakers!

What the fuck is it with the English, by the way? If they’re not dropping syllables by the fucking boatload, they’re inserting them into words that don’t need them. How else do you turn the name Henry into something with 14 syllables? I blame the fucking Welsh. This is a real Welsh road sign:

You think I'm fucking with you, but I'm not. This is the real name of a town in Wales.

You think I’m fucking with you, but I’m not. This is the real name of a town in Wales.

Anyway, one thing I don’t hate about this video is the fact that these gobs are all wearing suits. This was in 1965 and the Beatles had yet to drop acid, so everyone in rock and roll still had to dress up for the occasion. So even though they look like a bunch of undertakers stumbled across a room full of instruments, they get a pass. This is what they looked like five years later, however:

'Erman's 'Ermits, 1970

‘Erman’s ‘Ermits, 1970

This is in 1970, when proper rock attire consisted of torn jeans, a wide open shirt, and hair down to your ass. Jesus, these guys look like Liberace’s fluffers. It’s a goddamn disgrace.

Getting back to ‘Enry VIII, right off the bat in the video you see the lead singer, Peter Noone, bouncing awkwardly as if he’s trying to shake a working vibrator out of his ass. Scientific studies have shown that 90% of the stereotype that white people have no rhythm comes from this very video. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he has decided to violate the golden rule of cool rock singers: Never pantomime the words you are singing. Oh, look, he pointed to the side as he sang the words, “widow next door”. Thanks! If you hadn’t done that, I would’ve thought that the widow lived up your ass and you were trying to wiggle her out of there!

But as stupid and hateful as this video is to this point, it really goes into overdrive when Peter Noone says this:

Second verse, same as the first!

Well, aren’t you clever, Peter Noone? When I see that self-satisfied smirk, I want to smack the goofy grin off of that motherfucker’s face so bad that I…

…and force-feed it to him through a end-stage syphilitic’s catheter, that fucking asshole. Sorry, for some reason I get really worked up when he hits that point of the song. Let me get this straight, the song is so vapid that it only has one verse (and no chorus), and you’re calling attention to that fact? Look, I know that Peter Noone was only 16 when Herman’s Hermits started, and I understand that it’s 1965, and I understand that he’s excited… But this is rock and roll, man! It’s not fucking cool to look like you’re having the kind of fun a ten year old would have on stage. Defile some groupies, overdose on alcohol… Would it kill you to do some fucking needle drugs? Just stop being such a fucking tool!

The remainder of the song is much like the beginning of the song, by design. The exception is the guitar solo and the outro. The guitar solo blows chunks. Look, I play guitar, and on a good day my shredding ability lies somewhere in between the ability of Jimmy Page and Stephen Hawking. I can do some stuff really well, and other times it sounds like I’m trying to play a tuba with a chainsaw, so I really don’t have any room to talk. But this solo is fucking horrid. The aforementioned Jimmy Page was an accomplished session musician in the 60’s, and often played on records by Herman’s Hermits. You know how to tell that he didn’t play on this record? Nobody’s face melts off during the solo. (That’s known as the Page Test, and it’s what separates the melted-face men from the boys.)

Finally, the outro arrives, a mere 1:27 into the song. Pink Floyd isn’t done with their first note at that point, and Herman’s Hermits are wrapping it up. And thank God for that, because the only good thing about Henry VIII, I Am is that it’s under two minutes long. If it was any longer, the CIA would have used it in lieu of waterboarding.

There are a million shitty rock songs out there, and I don’t know why I get so fucking pissed when this piece of shit is (very occasionally) played. It’s not like a good band produced it or anything. I mean, if this song was by the Doors, getting upset by it would be natural. You’d hate to think of Jim Morrison in all his self-destructive glory rattling off something so insanely saccharine and trite. But Herman’s Hermits? This is exactly the kind of pablum you’d expect from them. So why does it annoy me so?

Oh yeah, here’s why:

Five butt-plugs with instruments.