‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’ – Tom Reynolds

17 Sep

Over the years music has taught us much about the world of romance. Love is strange. It’s all around but you can’t buy it. It may even tear us apart. People may just call to say they love you. It’s all you need and it’s a many splendored thing. There’s special categories of it – baby, young, secret, endless, puppy. I’ve even encountered love hangovers and and rollercoasters. However, the further you delve into these songs of the heart you find that love can be plain creepy.

 There may be one or two songs you’ve heard and thought, “wait a second, that ain’t right..”. Well, there’s a lot more where that came from and Tom Reynolds takes a look at 52 of the weirdest in his 2007 release, ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’.

The book is divided into chapters, each one focusing on specialised areas of disturbing love. Among these are Hopelessly Devoted To You, an homage to those obsessive stalker hits, I’m Not Bitter, I Just Wish You’d Die, You Miserable Pig, dedicated to angry female singer-songwriters, and All In The Family, yes, folks, today’s topic is incest. Each song description is broken down into an introduction and some general information about the musician, song, how he came across it or why he chose it. Reynolds then moves on to detail the song lyrically, musically and contextually, before going on to explain why it’s deemed creepy. This is great for those songs you may not have heard or know much about. A song can sound perfectly harmless until you learn that the band’s drummer would later go a little crazy and kill his mother with an axe. Or even just reading someone else’s interpretation of the words. You just can’t listen to that tune the same way. Since it is such an odd genre of song and it features a large countdown of them, there is going to be a few you don’t know. I found it quite useful to have Youtube open while reading so I could listen and check out the videos.

Reynolds has a wicked sense of humour and a great way with words. I laughed so many times while reading the book – holding this book and smiling gets you an odd look or two if they can see the cover, let me tell you. He’s brutally honest when he doesn’t like something and ridicules his fair share of musicians and songs. In fairness, some of the tracks and stories they tell are unforgivably awful. On the other hand, I got hooked on some great songs thanks to his careful choices, like There’s A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths (but his description was funny and sarcastic as hell) and everyone’s favourite German industrial metallers, Rammstein, with Marry Me (Heirate Mich).

When he explores a song you’re given a totally new outlook on it. For instance, I will not be able to listen to Fergalicious by Fergie, or Millie’s My Boy Lollipop again for a while. Sometimes we see the innuendo in a song but choose to ignore it. Reynolds, however, makes well sure you notice it. He also has had a long love affair with music and is more than capable of explaining the all the technical stuff without boring those less informed.

I know of two editions – I have the one pictured – but I’m not sure if the other is illustrated. They are done by the same artist as the cover above, Stacey Earley, and serve as introductions to what each section has in store for you. As I said before, reading this while around other people will garner you a few concerned glances, and that’s just from the cover’s Say Anything inspired drawing. Inside there are beautifully twisted pieces with blow-up dolls, butterflies trapped in jars, bunny threats and those scary guitar-wielding songstresses.

‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’ is an easy read, I say that without taking away from the quality of the book. Reynolds writes in a way that’s easy to follow without ever being too simple. He’s cheekily informal, autobiographical, a commentator on society and informative all at the same time. If you do read it and want more there’s always his previous offering, ‘I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You’ve Ever Heard’. I’m yet to get my hands on a copy but if this is anything to go by, it won’t disappoint.

Now, go and think about what that terribly romantic song you were just listening to really means.

_____

5 unwanted love notes out of 5.

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