Five Foot One

At the end of the 1970s Iggy released his fourth solo album, New Values. His solo albums from this point on have a bad reputation- a pile up of major label issues, poor or inappropriate backing bands and/or producers and lifestyle choices. And drugs. New Values survives this slew of rotten records, partly because of the presence of former Stooges James Williamson and Scott Thurston on production and guitar, and partly because there are some good songs on it. It’s a bit new wave in places, an attempt by Arista to shift some units (which failed, it charted at number 180). Let’s be frank- it’s not the equivalent of The Stooges albums and it’s not the equal of his Bowie/Berlin albums but New Values sounds good. The title track, The Endless Sea, I’m Bored (‘I’m the chairman of the bored’) all stand out. And this one.

Five Foot One

Iggy takes his height and turns it into a strutting virtue, over squally guitar and bass and spare, rattly 1979 drums. The opening two verses set out Iggy’s way of looking at the world…

‘I’m only five foot one
I got a pain in my neck
I’m looking up in the city
What the hell, what the heck

I stare at the concrete
The girders eye high
The steel’s above me
There’s love in my eyes’

…and the chorus concludes…

‘And I’m doing the things
A five foot one man can do’

There’s a branching off into…

‘And I wish life could be
Swedish magazines’

Iggy doesn’t specify which Swedish magazines- it could be the Ikea catalogue but I suspect he was referring to more adult publications. More five foot one man perspective follows…

‘I’m only five foot one
I got a pain in my heart
All the night I’m working
In the amusement park

With a bottle of aspirin
A sack full of jokes
I wish I could go home
With all the big folks’

Iggy finishes, aged 32, with the conclusion ‘I won’t grow anymore’ and sings it like he wouldn’t want any more height even if it was offered to him.

While writing this post I discovered that there was a video made to promote it. He takes his shirt off in it. No surprises there. But the video and comments led me to some fact checking and the internet seems to be pretty sure that Iggy isn’t five foot one, he is in fact five foot seven (171 cm) which is (according to a celebrity height comparison website) an inch shorter than the average celebrity (2-3 inches shorter than both Bowie and Lou Reed). So Iggy has reduced his height by 6 inches for the authorial purposes of this song, identifying as a shorter man than he actually is.

I don’t know where he put those missing 6 inches.

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