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nobodyinparticular

"It Ain't Nothin' To Me" - weird experimental track, or brilliant parody?

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While completely sucking at playing through Southern Accents in Audiosurf, it struck me just how bizarre "It Ain't Nothin' To Me" was. So I dug into my notes, and came up surprisingly scant. It hadn't been mentioned in Conversations with Tom Petty (not even in passing!), and the only thing I could find on the Archives that wasn't from an album review was this interview:

"It Ain't Nothin' To Me," a humorously cynical tune containing the self-deprecating line, "We got smilin' politicians/Got songs from rich musicians/It ain't nothin' to me," came to light one day in Petty's bedroom. Again, there are horns, rousing chorus, and Stewart not only on guitar but tackling bass and vocals as well.

"These mishmashes or hybrids of influences is something I've always been interested in," says Stewart, referring to the seemingly odd coupling of himself, Petty, and the exotic array of instruments on the trio of co-written tracks. "Because I think the world is like that now, all mixed up. But Tom and I found it really, really easy to write together. We didn't even have to think about it."

So, let's take a look at the track again. Taking it from face-value, it looks like a catchy dance track. Something rather confusing...until I took a closer look at the lyrics. They're cynical. Quite cynical. And the more I pay attention to the lyrics, the more I get the impression that this track wasn't just yet another weird experimental track, but actually a parody.

I just thought I'd post out my dumb little thoughts here. Sorry.

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I wouldn't say it's entirely a parody, but it is in the sense that you've got this quasi-disco/funk song with cynical lyrics, so it's a subversion of what you would expect not only from the song, but also the band.  And that's why I like it because it is experimental in that way.  But also I like the "list" structure of the lyrics, I've always liked that kind of trope - just like with "Jammin' Me."

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Yeah, interesting one, that. Been up for debate before, but I'm not sure exactly when or where. Let's just say I know at least one Farmer who may dive right in here, any day now, as if this thread was gold and every word candy. He's a Farmer in love (but it's not me), to paraphrase.

And it really isn't me! I don't understand this song. That is, I understand it, but not in the context of TPATH. Further more, I don't like it. I'm not sure about that word "experimental", though, to me that seem to implicate other, braver and more substantially extensive connotations. I don't know. To me IANTM is actually very generic and bland, in it's own way, in it's own universe (wherever that may be at). And that is even part of the problem. Different is good sometimes, experimental is interesting. But the only thing that makes this song experimental to me, is how bad it fits the band. The song is just a very different and very out of character type of music. To me it's strange how IANTM (and other stuff Dave Stewart co-wrote or influenced) found its way onto SA, in the light of what we know about Tom's original ideas about the concept, and what we know about some of the songs that were left out. This is rather horrible music to me.

No, I don't find it good at all, but I do find it a bit amusing and interesting. And what is REALLY interesting about it - cept for being interesting in a freak kind of way - is the lyrics of course. That's where it's at. (@chimera) Good call about Jammin Me! How true, how poignant. Those are very similar in approach and structure. With JM, though.. enters Bob. Which bring me to the certain type of tounge-in-cheek satire type undertone, the joyful, lighthearted-yet-thoughtful qualities of some of his stuff and... on to.. The Travling Wilburys. (If you want to call any of that parody, be my guest. I wouldn't know parody myself, if they melted some in the microwave and poured it all over me.)

I guess, what I try to say here is that IANTM and JM is both semi-similar in approach and despite very different music mindset, they both lyrically could've been Traveling Wilburys songs, as I hear them. It's that certain type of structure and.. shall we say.. social commentary meets good fun (is that parody? satire?) What's interesting is that Tom didn't come up with any of those songs by himself, either. He wasn't in an isolated song writing environment with the lyrics either, seemingly. Now I know Dave was not in the Wilburys (although at times he probably could pass for Jeff, in the eyes of infidels. I mean, he could disquise himself, if needed..), but as a transitional progession perspective, from 85 to 88 or thereabout, perhaps there is a certain side of Tom's unmistakingly personal dry wit and humor that was pulled in certain directions from these specific collaborations and IANTM is merely an early example of an "dimension" what was again revisited with JM and then flourished in more general terms in the atmosphere of TW and Vol. 3. The main difference, of course, is that the undertone of IANTM (and even JM, to some extent) is rather dark and depressive (at least to me), it's the type of "heavy" that the Wilburys didn't do too much of, really. But still.. to me there seem to be some connection here. It's more of a hunch than a thesis though, mind you. So, now, where does this leave us? I have no idea! Where's the door? Help!

(Besides, what do I know about parody, anyway? To me today's White House seem like a shockingly accurate parody of 1800s worldviews, despotic ignorance and egotistical childish tantrums, still there seem to be half a country out there who seem to think it's the real deal and all for the better. So, I guess.. I never can tell when something is a joke, a dark trip or just everyday life on planet earth. Ask someone else. Thank you.)

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