Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Case Study No. 0022: Karen

The Go-Betweens -Karen
The first single,released in 1978, both for the band and the band's own Able Label. 500 copies pressed. The master tapes for this and the second single were lost, forcing all reissues of these songs to be made from the vinyl,and not until 1999 when their ''lost album" was issued.Karen was the B-Side to Lee Remick.

I just want some affection
I just want some affection
I don't want no hoochie-coochie mama
No back door woman
No Queen Street sex thing
I want a tiger on bended knees
With all the kindness of the Japanese
I just want some affection
I wish I heard voices
Wish I was a telephone

Karen yeah-yeah, Karen yeah-yeah
Karen yeah-yeah, Karen yeah-yeah yeah
I said yeah, oh Karen!

I know this girl
This very special girl
And she works in a library, yeah
Standing there behind the counter
Willing to help
With all the problems that I encounter

Helps me find Hemingway
Helps me find Genet
Helps me find Brecht
Helps me find Chandler
Helps me find James Joyce
She always makes the right choice

She's no queen
She's no angel
Just a peasant from the village
She's my god, she's my god
She's my g-o-d, she's my god, yeah, yeah
She's my g-o-o-d, yeah

Oh, she's my god now Yeah!
Karen yeah-yeah, Karen yeah-yeah
Karen yeah-yeah, Karen yeah-yeah yeah
I said yeah, oh Karen!

And she stands there in the library
Like a nun in a church does
Like a nun in a church does
She stands there all alone
'Cos she gets me something that I
Just can't get now anywhere else
Cause the girls that I see
Walking around, yeah the ones I see
Walking on the street
Are so damn-da-da-da-damned cold
'Cos they must have eskimo blood in their veins
And the one that I want
I just can't see
I can't see her there
I can't see her anywhere

Oh Karen yeah-yeah...
Karen, Karen, Karen, Karen, Karen, Karen!
Tags: Music
Added: 2 years ago
From: hanktsinanski
Views: 16,370


But although Robert Forster had an abiding interest in the 1960s, and though "(I'm) Stranded" struck him solidly when he first heard it on the radio, his own breakthrough song about Brisbane and isolation was no rapid dirge. It was the plaintive, esoteric "Karen."

The music to "Karen" was simple, and obviously influenced by Jonathan Richman, who had become something of an important figure in the 1970s with his trademark naivete. Like "Lee Remick," the later song which it would be paired with on the first Go-Betweens single, the central figure of "Karen" is not the woman of its title, but Forster himself, lonely in Brisbane and pining for a connection to other worlds and exotic cultures. The exotic might be found in faraway cultural centers like New York or Paris, or in the female world, which was probably more alien still to the eighteen-year-old Forster. There is a strong thread of asceticism in "Karen"; though its narrator returns to the theme of wanting affection, he also denies that his desire is sexual. It is the desire for knowledge: Karen, a composite character derived from a number of female librarians at the university library, helps him find the "right" authors: Hemingway, Genet, Joyce. Forster was asked to explain the song in 1979:

FORSTER: Once I lost my wallet in the library, and the amount of anguish that they went through to try and find it ... They were standing at the counter willing to help people and that struck me as some sort of social- worker, nun-type role that I could see coming out of being a librarian, so I wrote that song about them. I knew one of them personally and I was doing an assignment and I worked with another one that I knew.

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