PJ Harvey

Hello again, happy New Year, and welcome to our first 2017 edition of 羽曳野古市英会話の英国音楽!

PJ Harvey, a unique alternative talent in rock music

Polly Jean Harvey, who had grown up on a farm in Dorset and learned the guitar from folk singer/songwriter Steve Knightley, drew attention with an album called Dry in 1992. Rid of Me came out the following year. Though they are both considered indie classics, worldwide fame came when she went solo with the 1995 album To Bring You My Love. PJ has released nine studio albums to date, received many accolades, and achieved commercial success and critical acclaim.

“Sheela-na-gig”

We share with you a title from Dry. As you watch the video and read the lyrics, see if you can answer these questions:

(i) Do we know the name of the female character in the song?

(ii) What does “Sheela-na-gig” refer to?

(iii) What will the woman achieve if she manages to “wash that man right out of my hair”?

The answers are below the lyrics.

Lyrics

Listen and fill in the gaps:

“I’ve been trying to show you over and over

____ __ _____, my child-bearing hips

Look at these, my ruby red, ruby lips

____ __ _____, my work-strong arms and

You’ve got to see my bottle full of charm

I lay it all at your feet

You turn around and say back to me, “he said”

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Just like the first time, said he didn’t care

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, no more

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Turn the corner, another one there

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, he said

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, Sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Put money in your idle hole (x2)

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Just like the first time, said he didn’t care

Gonna wash that man right out of my hair

Heard it before, no more

Gonna take my hips to a man who cares

Turn the corner, another one there

Gonna take my hips to a man who cares

Heard it before, he said

Sheela-na-gig, sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Sheela-na-gig, sheela-na-gig

You exhibitionist

Put money in your idle hole (x2)

He said, “Wash your breasts, I don’t want to be unclean”

He said, “Please take those dirty pillows away from me”

(x3)”

Quiz Answer Key

(i) Do we know the name of the female character in the song?

We cannot be sure that Sheela-na-gig is the character’s actual name; it is more likely a nickname.

(ii) What does “Sheela-na-gig” refer to?

A sheela na gig is “a medieval stone figure of a naked female with the legs wide apart and the hands emphasizing the genitals, found in churches in Britain and Ireland” (Google).

(iii) What will the woman achieve if she manages to “wash that man right out of my hair”?

The woman will forget about him, and he will therefore stop annoying her. The proper expression is “to get someone out of one’s hair”; the line in the song is a reference to a song from the 1949 musical South Pacific.

How do you interpret the song? Share your thoughts with us.


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