Monday, 17 June 2013

My Top Ten Prostitute Songs

Inspired by this idiot in Solihull, a Top Ten that might get me sued for breaching the Sale of Goods Act... if I had the nerve to charge for it.

There are, of course, thousands of songs about the oldest profession. I compiled a pretty extensive list, then whittled it down to these ten... though I'm sure I forgot more than I remembered...

10. Tina Turner - Private Dancer

Written by Mark Knopfler, Tina's voice gives this a real sense of pathos, for all its eighties sheen. The video's utter bollocks though.
All the men come in these places
And the men are all the same
You don't look at their faces
And you don't ask their names
You don't think of them as human
You don't think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
Keeping your eyes on the wall
9. Iron Maiden - Charlotte The Harlot

A typically restrained, some might say poignantly tragic, character study...
Taking so many men to your room, don't you feel no remorse?
You charge them a fiver, it's only for starters.
And ten for the main course.
And you've got no feelings, they died long ago.
Don't you care who you let in?
And don't you know you're breaking the law with the service you're giving?
Oh, and some moral finger-wagging too. Lovely. 

8. Hall & Oates - Family Man

Lots of prostitution going on in the eighties, obviously. This one, written and originally recorded by Mike Oldfield, sees Daryl Hall tempted despite being a married man while John Oates has to pay extra to get anyone to snog his Bobby Ball 'tache. The video is like all your worst nightmares of 1983 rolled into six minutes of hell, filmed on Queen's discarded set for I Want To Break Free. Then it goes all David Lynch...

7. Nick Cave - Jubilee Street

From the latest Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds record, Push The Sky Away, though it's grubby enough to be a Grinderman offcut. Beware: the full, uncensored video is NSFW, featuring, as it does, gratuitous shots of Ray Winstone in nothing but his pants (plus assorted lady-bits).
The problem was she had a little black book
And my name was written on every page
A girl's got to make ends meet even on Jubilee Street
6. Bruce Springsteen - Candy's Room

One of my favourite songs from Darkness On The Edge Of Town, though I have to confess my ignorance regarding the subject matter despite belting out the lyrics full blast as young man...
Strangers from the city, 
Call my baby's number and bring her toys,
When I come knocking, she smiles pretty, 

She knows I wanna be Candy's boy,
There's a sadness hidden in that pretty face, 

A sadness all her own, 
From which no man can keep Candy safe.
5. O.C. Smith - The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp

How do you feel when your mum's a prostitute?
Oh, you know, the path was deep and wide
From footsteps leading to our cabin
Above the door there burned a scarlet lamp
And late at night a hand would knock
And there would stand a stranger
Yes, I'm the son of Hickory Hollers tramp
Proud, if she only did it to keep food on the table...
When Momma sacrificed her pride
The neighbours started talking
But we were much too young
To understand the things they said
All we really cared about
Was Mommas chicken dumplings
And a goodnight kiss
Before we went to bed
4. Morrissey - Picadilly Palare

Of course, it's not just women who turn to prostitution when times get desperate. Here, Mozzer goes off the rails again and ends up plying an ancient trade round Earl's Court while learning the slang that keeps his business a mystery to strangers. Bona to vada!

See also Rent by The Pet Shop Boys in which Neil Tennant has to chauffeur Margi Clarke while Chris Lowe wanders around Kings Cross looking shifty in black and white. But it's OK, it's not about male prostitution at all, Margi and Chris are in love... (Who reckons the record company forced that ending on them?)

3. The Police - Roxanne

Possibly the most famously po-faced, cod-reggae pop song ever written about prostitution... I do still love it. Not that I can take it seriously anymore, largely because of this:

2. Flight of the Conchords - You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute

Poor Jemaine. His pants are too tight, he can't afford cab fair home, he just can't see his way out...
The streets are cruel, 
He tries to act cool, 
He goes to work with only his one tool 
You can put away your tool, Jemaine...
You don't have to be, a prostitute 
No no no no no 
You can say no, to being a man hoe 
A male gigolo
You don't have to be, a prostitute
No no no no no
You can say no to being a night looker, boy hooker, rent boy, bro, hoe
1. Elvis Costello - Love For Sale

Written by Cole Porter in 1930 for the musical The New Yorkers, though I was unaware of that when I first heard Elvis's cover as a teenager. Despite discovering many other fine recordings of the song since, this will always be my favourite.
When the only sound in the empty street,
Is the heavy tread of the heavy feet
That belong to a lonesome cop
I open shop.
When the moon so long has been gazing down
On the wayward ways of this wayward town.
That her smile becomes a smirk,
I go to work.

Love for sale,
Appetising young love for sale.
Love that's fresh and still unspoiled,
Love that's only slightly soiled,
Love for sale.

So... which one makes you want to put on your red light?


  1. Oh my word...there's just going to be an avalanche of suggestions aren't there? It's a great top ten...I'd squeeze in House of the Rising Sun, Killer Queen and Blondie's Call Me (?), I think

    1. It does make you wonder why all these famous pop stars are having to pay for it... you'd think not having to do so would be one of the perks of the job.

      House of the Rising Sun will have to wait for a Top Ten Brothel Songs. I inspected the lyrics of Killer Queen closely but found her a little too high class for my tastes (or bank account). Blondie came close, with both Call Me and Ex-Offender.

  2. Scott Walker – The Amorous Humphrey Plugg. Amazing lyrics.

  3. Nearly forgot this one, though I don't know if showtunes are cheating:

    "They all suppose what they wants to suppose..."

    1. Well, considering my Number One is a showtune (of sorts), I can hardly call that cheating.

  4. Good list. Some others that would make it to my list are:
    Reno - Bruce Springsteen (with some fairly explicit lyrics from the Devil's and Dust album)
    Girls on the Avenue - Richard Clapton
    Maggie Mae - The Beatles

    and, its not really completely about prostitution, but from Paul Kelly's great song "Every F#$ing City", it has the brilliant line "So I headed north until I got to Hamburg/A chilly city suits a troubled soul/And on the Reeperbahn I paid a woman far too much/To kick me out before I'd even reached my goal"

    Cheers, Deano

    1. I'd forgotten all about Reno... though I still prefer Candy's Room.

      I like the sound of that Paul Kelly song - sadly, it's not on my sole PK Greatest Hits CD so I'll have to dig deeper.

    2. as you might have already figured out, I am an Aussie, and am a big Paul Kelly fan, so you will probably find that he keeps coming up in my posts...I am impressed though that you at least have a greatest hits, I didn't know that he was known outside of Australia.

  5. 'Yes' - Manic Street Preachers. "Everything's for sale" says the pimp at the start, but the voice of the song is struggling to ignore the terrifying reality of abuse and objectification (which reflects on his own moral and personal record) and nurture his lust.

    Also 'Hey' by Pixies. "UGH! said the man to the lady UGH! said the lady to the man she adored and the whores like a choir go UGH! all night, and Mary aren't you tired of this UGH! is the sound that the mother makes when the baby breaks. We're chained..."

    1. Both excellent suggestions. Thanks, Alex.

  6. Show me the way to Amarillo ,and Blondie s maria,and killer queen ,remind me of when my red light is on,but polices Roxanne makes me want to turn it off xxxx

    1. I must listen to those other songs I haven't heard yet, the one I was looking for was an Australian pub song I once heard a bit of on a documentary, does anyone have links for it ?

    2. Doesn't ring any bells, Queenie, but if I come across it on my travels, I'll post a link here.

  7. Bands from Indonesian:
    Java Jive - Gadis Malam,
    Boomerang - Gadis Extravaganza,
    Ahmad Band - Bidadari Kesunyian,
    The Mercy's - Kisah Seorang Pramuria,
    Jamrud - Putri...


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