La Vice Anglais

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When I was twelve I bought my first LP, a synth-pop creation by a British band popular with middle-class teens at the time. Here are snippets of Martin Gore's lyrics to two of the songs.

You're feeling the boredom too
I'd gladly go with you
I'd put your leather boots on
I'd put your pretty dress on


You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees
We call it master and servant

I'm not sure at what age I became aware of kinky sex, but I think at the time I didn't quite understand what "playing Master and Servant" really meant. Other themes on Depeche Mode's 1984 album Some Great Reward are capitalist oppression, racial intolerance, religious doubts and urban boredom. Looking back, I kind of wonder why my favourite band was so damn earnest-yet-decadent. I mean, why didn't "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" register with me? Kids have so little to compare with, so I suppose I just took it in my stride that the lyrics I was constantly listening to were written by a gloomy kinkmeister without a shred of self-irony.

Two years after that album purchase, I went to my first pop concert, where Depeche Mode performed material from their 1986 album Black Celebration. Here were themes such as the ubiquity of death ("Fly on the windscreen"), the inanity of celebrity news, neurotic love relationships and, yes, kinky sex:

She's dressed in black again

And I'm falling down again

Down to the floor again

I'm begging for more again

But oh, what can you do

When she's dressed in black


Let me see you
Stripped down to the bone
Let me hear you crying
Just for me

I did find the explicit and obsessive kinky-wallowing on the following year's album, Music for the Masses, a bit silly.

Will you take the pain
I will give to you
Again and again
And will you return it


Oh little girl
There are times when I feel
I'd rather not be
The one behind the wheel
Pull my strings
Watch me move
I do anything

Still, I count myself lucky. Had I been born a few years earlier, I would never have been able to appreciate Depeche Mode's 80s albums the way I did. And as for kink, well... To tell the truth, I see lingerie/fetish gear as a form of irrelevant packaging, and I find pain and degradation a big turn-off. As befits someone with a trippy taste in music, I suppose that sexually, I'm a bit of a flower child. Don't shave, baby!

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I grew up with Depeche Mode from their first album and they have since 1982 been one of the very few constants of my somewhat fluttery musical tastes.

As for kink, one of my introductions to the English language was trying to understand Frank Zappa lyrics. There's quite a bit of stuff in there that I've understood better many years after first hearing the songs in 5th grade or so...

Hans: "Titties and beer"?