Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Or Did They?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Or Did They?

I've always ranked Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" as one of the all-time great rock songs. As a kid, I loved it before I even knew what it was (and although I knew fairly early on that it was by Cream, I called it by the wrong name for a number of years, until my cousin helpfully set me straight). But lately, it's been getting on my nerves. It provides the soundtrack (and although none of the vocals are featured, it sounds like the authentic Cream version) to a horrible commercial for a hair dye, Touch of Gray. I'm fine if people want to color their hair--what do I care when it comes down to it? People, especially as they're aging, should do whatever helps them feel comfortable (although I'm not as complacent when it starts edging toward major surgery). What bugs me about this commercial is its attitude. The opening line is: "The generation that swore it would never get old . . . didn't." Typical Boomer delusion. Of course they didn't get old. That's why they've got to color all the gray hair they don't have.

I don't know why this particular commercial annoys me so much, because it's not particularly worse than any other commercial out there. I've gotten used to pop songs being coopted by advertising, and it's not like they weren't being used for commerce when they were originally released. But maybe this is just an instance of a particularly beloved song being used for a particularly annoying Boomer trait.


At 1:59 PM, May 12, 2008, Anonymous Jim C. said...

I don't care for it either, and for me it's the connotations that *other* uses have layered onto the song that grate.

"Sunshine of Your Love" is, to me, the marginally-hipper/cooler shorthand for counterculture that would otherwise sound-check "Incense and Peppermints." Nowadays, I&P evokes silliness - as if it was created in the same studio as the Archies' "Sugar Sugar." Maybe it meant something else back in the day.

Two media uses of "Sunshine of Your Love" stick in my mind very strongly. First, of course, is when it cues up Mona Simpson's awakening to the counterculture - when she sees Joe Namath's hair. The other is a bit more obscure, but it is the song that serves as the bonding element for the ragtag gang of misfits and acid casualities that Gene Hackman rounds up to get his son out of a presumed MIA/POW camp in "Uncommon Valor." A couple play air guitar on their M-16s, while Randall "Tex" Cobb dances (And *that* is probably why it sticks so strongly) - think "Big Chill" with weapons and fatigues.

But for coloring your hair? Nah. Maybe "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows."

At 6:13 PM, May 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just you - my roommate and I singled out this ad for scorn a few weeks ago. It is currently the one ad on TV I will actually change channels to avoid watching. The part that consciously bugs me is the model/actor at the center of it. He looks like - well, just that - a model. He strikes me as someone who was never a part of the counterculture beyond its partying fringes; someone who has spent a half century pursuing no agenda nobler than hanging out on the beach. Now of course, if I scratch any deeper, I have to admit that I don't know a darn thing about the guy - but I have to go with my impressions of him, because that's what commercials give us.


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