I come to you today with an age-old question.
June 18, 2009 3:25 PM   Subscribe

I come to you today with an age-old question. Many have tried to answer it, and all have failed, but I am confident that the mighty MeFi will succeed. That question is: What the hell is Pete Shelley singing in the classic Buzzcocks song "Orgasm Addict"?

Don't bother looking it up online, none of the lyrics sites are even close. Maybe there's been a re-release since I bought this music so long ago that includes lyrics, or maybe you're better than I at deciphering Northern English accents. Here are the lyrics I am reasonably sure are correct, with the indecipherable parts indicated by "???":

Well you tried it just for once, found it alright for kicks
Well now you find out that it's a habit that sticks
And you're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

Sneaking in the backdoor with dirty magazines
And your mother wants to know what are those stains on your jeans
And you're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

Uh huh, uh huh, aaaaah

You get in a heat, you get in a slump
But you still keep a-beating your meat to pulp
And you're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

You're a ??? (sounds like "Kid Casanova"?)
You're a ??? (no idea)
It's a ??? fucking yourself to death
Orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

You're making it with schoolkids, winos and heads of state
You even made it with the lady who puts the little plastic bobbies on the Christmas cakes
Butcher's assistants and bellhops, you've had them all here and there
Children of God and their joy strings, international women with no body hair

Oooh, so when you're ??? and your voice ain't steady
The ???, you're more than ready
You're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

Johnny will fuck you always and all ways
He's got the energy, he will amaze
He's an orgasm addict, an orgasm addict

He's always at it, he's always at it, and he's an orgasm addict, he's an orgasm addict!

There. Help me fill in the blanks, and I will love you always and all ways.
posted by DecemberBoy to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love this song so much. I just watched a vew versions of it on YouTube [some live, some from the album] I think the lyrics on this page are pretty close.
Ooh, so where they're askin' in an alley
And your voice ain't steady
Your sex mechanic's rough, you're more than ready
You're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

Johnny want fuckie always and all ways
He's got the energy, he will remain
He's an orgasm addict, he's an orgasm addict
"no josep" still a mystery
posted by jessamyn at 3:39 PM on June 18, 2009


i'm doing this from memory, and can't listen right this second, BUT.

the last chunk is

oooh so when you're asking her to marry and your voice ain't steady
the sex mechanic says you're more than ready
you're an orgasm addict
etc

i'll try and suss out the first bit in my head ASAP.
posted by radiosilents at 3:40 PM on June 18, 2009


i'm pretty sure the third line of the first grouping is "it's a living fucking yourself to death".

still trying to think on the rest.
posted by radiosilents at 3:41 PM on June 18, 2009


and i think you're right about the "kid casanova" part, and think shelly might stutter a little, which confuses.
posted by radiosilents at 3:42 PM on June 18, 2009


also "He's got the energy, he will remain" is actually "he's got the energy, he will amaze"
posted by radiosilents at 3:43 PM on June 18, 2009


also the sex mechanic line jessamyn said make me think i might be misremembering, in which case the line is "sex mechanic shrugs, you're more than ready".
posted by radiosilents at 3:44 PM on June 18, 2009


clearly i need to listen to it when it get home, as trying to determine which tiny word here or there is wrong is making me a little crazy.

having said that, i'm currently leaning towards the line being "you're asking her to marry and your voice seems steady" or possibly "is steady", rather than "ain't".

and with that, for now, i am done. i'll check back late tonight, after i get a chance to go home and spin this.
posted by radiosilents at 4:01 PM on June 18, 2009


i did find this in the discography PDF on buzzcocks.com, though :

'The lyric that perhaps causes most confusion
amongst B'cocks listeners is from Orgasm Addict. The correct
interpretation of the line is in fact "...you even made it with the
lady who puts the little plastic robins on the Christmas cake...",
Shelley and Diggle answered my question about this on a talkback
radio session they did on student radio at the time of their first
NZ visit in 1989.'

http://www.buzzcocks.com/site/discography.html
posted by radiosilents at 4:07 PM on June 18, 2009


You get in a heat, you get in a slump

'You get in a heat, you get in a sulk'

You're a ??? (sounds like "Kid Casanova"?)
You're a ??? (no idea)
It's a ??? fucking yourself to death


'You a kid Casanova
You're a no chose set. (or 'cho set' or 'jo set' - nothing that actually makes much sense)
It's a living fucking yourself to death'

You're making it with schoolkids, winos and heads of state
You're making out with schoolkids, winos and heads of state

Oooh, so when you're ??? and your voice ain't steady
The ???, you're more than ready


'Oooh, so when you're asking her 'n ally and your voice ain't steady
If sex mechanic's rough, you're more than ready'

Johnny will fuck you always and all ways
'Johnny won't fuck you all ways and all week'

... well that's how I hear it
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:09 PM on June 18, 2009


"BUT now you find out that its a habit that sticks"

It is "Kid Cassonova" then something about something "Joseph?"

"You're making OUT with schoolkids..."

"So when you're asking in an alley
And you're voice ain't steady
The sex mechanic's rough, you're more than ready"

But, you know, you just want some lyrics like any other, and what do you get?
posted by OmieWise at 4:12 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and it's 'robins' not 'bobbies' on the christmas cakes

And I always heard: 'international women with no body hair'
as 'international womens' week, nobody cares.' ... but it really could be either
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:16 PM on June 18, 2009


It's definitely "international women with no body hair" - there a site somewhere where Howard Devoto talks about his inspiration for the line.

Jessamyn's correct about "Johnny want fuckie always and all ways," which is another line you can find somewhere in an interview.

I think it's:

"You're asking every nanny and your voice ain't steady," but maybe not sure sure.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:54 PM on June 18, 2009


I've always heard it as "you're no Joseph," Joseph of Nazareth having been in a sexless marriage. But I could be completely off the mark.
posted by decagon at 6:28 PM on June 18, 2009


I'm so happy that jessamyn was right about "Johnny want fuckie".
posted by Beardman at 6:28 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're making out with schoolkids, winos and heads of state

I'm not going to dispute that, for all intents and purposes, Shelley is clearly saying "making out." But I've always interpreted this as being solely due to his Northern accent, and his brain is saying "making it" even if his mouth makes it sound exactly like "making out".

I just feel like "making it' seems more correct given the location and the time period. "Making out" is a American phrase, according to the faith-based encyclopedia...did the phrase have a lot of currency in the UK in the late 70s? Surely they would have been snogging or shagging or getting off with instead, right?
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:19 PM on June 18, 2009


Based on a terrible rap version of the song by the Yeastie Girlz (don't ask how I know this) the missing lyrics are:
You're a Kid Casanova
You've got sex on your breath
It's a living just fucking yourself to death
Orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

Oooh, so when you're askin in an alley and your voice ain't steady
The sex mechanic's sure, you're more than ready
You're an orgasm addict, you're an orgasm addict

No gurantees that's what the Buzzcocks were actually saying in the orginal.
posted by entropyiswinning at 7:19 PM on June 18, 2009


I probably should mention that there is an authorized book of Howard Devoto lyrics out there somewhere. It includes all the Buzzcocks material for which he wrote lyrics, and those from the first few (maybe the first three) Magazine albums. I saw a copy, used, for about $100.

And then there's this. So the truth's out there, you just have to locate it!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:29 PM on June 18, 2009


Huh. I always heard it as "you're a sex mechanic show-off, you're more than ready."
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:21 PM on June 18, 2009


Oh wow, we even got a Yeastie Girls mention out of all this. That came out of nowhere.

Anyway, I really don't think the second part is anything to do with "sex mechanic". It sounds like that, and that's what I hear too ("the sex mechanic's shop, you're more than ready") but that makes no sense. Is "sex mechanic" some obscure Manc slang that would have made sense to the audience at the time, but not to anyone since? I also don't think it's "asking in an alley" or "asking her to marry" (especially that, does marriage have any place in this song?).

Maybe there's no way to know without asking Pete himself. I wrote him an email once in the early days of the Internet, and he replied (very cryptically), but I doubt that would work again. Maybe he wants it to be a mystery, if he hasn't told us in all this time.

And then there's this. So the truth's out there, you just have to locate it!

Now that's a good lead. But did Devoto write the lyrics to Orgasm Addict? The credits are Shelley/Devoto, but that doesn't indicate which part he wrote. "Fast Cars" is Shelley/Devoto too, most likely just because it uses the "Boredom" riff. Or maybe he wrote them originally and Shelley changed parts of them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2009


Pretty much all of the Devoto-era Buzzcocks stuff had lyrics by Devoto, not Shelley - despite the lyrical genius often demonstrated by Shelley later on. This includes all four "Spiral Scratch" songs, plus "You Tear Me Up," "Orgasm Addict," "Lester Sands," "Fast Cars," "Love Battery" and a couple more. In fact, with the exception of "Lipstick," any Buzzcocks song credited in part to Devoto features his lyrics, not Shelley's.

For the most part, Shelley just wrote the music, Devoto just the lyrics - but apparently the main riff in "Lipstick" was a mutual invention or something like that (it's the same piece of music as in Magazine's "Shot By Both Sides.") As far as I know, there's never been any disagreement about who wrote what - and Shelley and Devoto remain good friends. The fact that there have been *two* books of Devoto's lyrics (and one more, unpublished) and that they credit all the lyrics to Devoto alone does it for me. In any case, "Orgasm Addict" is definitely Devoto alone (lyrically.)
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:31 PM on June 18, 2009


Well, something of a breakthrough: I found this bootleg from 1976, which is probably the earliest recording of the song, with Devoto singing. It's crappy quality, but you can pretty clearly hear that one of my unknown lines is "it's a labor of love fucking yourself to death". Also, I'm pretty sure that it's "you're asking in an alley and your voice ain't steady", but here the next line sounds less like "sex mechanic", but it's still unclear.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:33 AM on June 19, 2009


Going in order of the ???:

kid casanova
no joseph
labour of love
asking in the alley
sex mechanic's sure

It's not "get in a slump" it's "get in a sulk."

It's "your making out with schoolkids."

This is all from my husband, who read that authorized lyrics book way back when.
posted by cooker girl at 3:31 PM on June 19, 2009


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