Xiu Xiu’s Wig Master vs. Why?’s Wig Master
On the 2006 Xiu Xiu album The Air Force, there’s a song, “Wig Master.” Lately I’ve been listening a lot to a cover version done by Why?, on the 2007 album Remixed and Covered. It’s easily my favorite piece on that album.
I was looking for the lyrics of the Why? version and I realized 1.) they’re not already online (that I could find) and 2.) they’re substantially different from the Xiu Xiu version.
So I thought I’d type them up, and put up a post about the differences. This is that post!
Below are both sets of lyrics. I did some formatting to make the differences more apparent:
- Common lyrics are in black;
- Minor changes are in sea green;
- Substantial changes are in red.
(That’s an Xmas theme, I guess, even though I don’t think this song is really an Xmas song.)
First, here’s the Xiu Xiu version, along with the lyrics.
You said “I’ll build you a bed of cactus where you could sleep when the night is too sharp.” I said “I’ll cover you with wax and light your hair like a wick when the night is too cold.” You don’t think of me as often as I’d like you to, but when you do it’s of me looking for you on the ship. The plane I’m waiting on has your face printed on the wings, when it crashes I’ll eat the paint off. I’m going to spank your ass so hard you’ll hate the wig master, but I’ll put two pillows on your dining room chair. You’re like a parrot, something that belongs to me and not to you. Loneliness isn’t being alone, it’s when someone loves you and you don’t have it in you to love them back. Look at my hair, it’s a dirty little mop crying for you to send it away. All a guy needs is a chance to pull off my clothes and snicker, try harder. If you mail me a toy I’ll use it but that’s the most I have to offer. “Do you want to see my panties?” is the last thing I’ll ever say to you. “I want to finger every teenager I see” is the last thing you’ll say to me. Don’t make fun of my night out.
Now, here’s the Why? version, with its respective lyrics.
You said, “I will build you a bed of cactus
where you can sleep when the night is too sharp.”
I said, “I will cover you with wax and
light you hair like a wick on cold nights.”
You don’t think of me very often these days,
but when you do it’s of me looking for you
on the ship top deck just calling your name,
coughing up flames, placing blame on a silhouette
that sings in the distance. Did I get caught by some kid
missing you by a hair with a slingshot? I did
nothing. The plane not delayed at takeoff
has your face frantic printed on the wings.
And when this plane crashes into the Atlantic,
will I eat the paint off before it sinks?
Should I masturbate one last time, or
would that make me drown faster?
Does it matter? Should I care if I survive? I swear,
on a prayer, I’ll spank your ass
till you hate the wig master,
but put two pillows on your dining room chair.
Look: my hair’s a dirty mop for you to make it get lost or set fire to.
All I needs a chance to pull my clothes off (snicker).
Try harder. Do send me a toy; I’ll use it, but that’s all I can offer you.
“Do you want to see my panties?” is the last thing you ask me.
“I want my ring finger in every teenager I see,”
is the last thing you hear me say.
That’s OK, but don’t make
fun of my night out!
That’s OK, just don’t make
fun of my night out!
… I really love what Why? did here. Not only did they compose a new melody around the song, they also rewrote the lyrics to fit that melody, and wrote additional lyrics. … Well done, Yoni Wolf!
Of course those changes change things, and we should now analyze the differences, constructing readings as to how these two versions diverge. I invite you to join me in doing that, in the comments …
Also, here is a recording of Xiu Xiu performing the song live, really beautiful stuff.
Tags: Caralee McElroy, Jamie Stewart, why, Wig Master, Xiu Xiu, Yoni Wolf
that is cool; the change to ring finger & swapping who says it is definitely my favorite change, esp since I always like songs with flawed/shitty/fucked-up (kind of a range, i suppose) narrators.
i like changing the lyrics whenever i’m singing along with a song, it usually makes me like the song more
Why?’s is obviously much more lyrical. I appreciate such lyricism, but when compared with the way JS confronts the repressed despair and revulsion underlying relationships, Why?’s version seems petty, if not cowardly. I think the fundamental difference can be located in the line about the wig master and surrounding it. Xiu Xiu: “I’m going to spank your ass so hard you’ll hate the wig master, but I’ll put two pillows on your dining room chair. You’re
like a parrot, something that belongs to me and not to you. Loneliness
isn’t being alone, it’s when someone loves you and you don’t have it in
you to love them back.” When you couple the wig master line with the following “you’re like a parrot”, he’s talking about how the other is essentially turned into a dead object by fantasy, about how fantasy and fetish effectively “consume” the other; and, further, when one prefers the other as dead fantasy-object. Why?’s seems more like a break-up song, while Xiu Xiu’s seems more like a lament of the impossibility of “being together” in the first place, and the impotence, desperation, and alienation involved in relationships. That being said, I do like Why?’s addition of “ring finger”, as if in fidelity to perversion and infidelity.