I had a fever last week. Literally: chills, night sweats, repetitive dreams, a general marshmallow-y sense of the world. This made me think of fever songs. The most famous eponymous ones, by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell (as sung by Peggy Lee) and Bruce (as sung by Southside Johnny), offer a sexy, smoldering take. Smoldering, okay, there were times when I felt everything around me was melting at the edges, but sexy? The experience wasn’t entirely unpleasant (that marshmallow-y sense of the world, how good everyday health felt when the fever broke) but definitely not sexy. Neil Young claimed in the “Decade” liner notes he wrote “Down by the River” while in bed with a fever and I do hear that in the song, the spooky vocal, the droning guitar. Could never understand why he’d want to shoot someone who dragged him over the rainbow, isn’t that a good thing?, but it probably made sense to Neil’s feverish mind. Roger Waters and David Gilmour’s “Comfortably Numb” (as sung by…which one is Pink?) mentions having a fever in the lyric and again captures the spaciness, the one step remove from reality, although as others have mentioned it seems more about drugs or facism or a drug that induces facism than lying in bed with a thermometer in your mouth waiting for your Mom to bring some orange juice. There are a few War on Drugs songs I’ve heard on the radio (WXPN in Philadelphia, my favorite station, fund raising right now if you are so inclined!) that would be a good backdrop to a fever, and I’m sure there are live cuts of Van Morrison in full yarragh mode repeating the same phrase 27 times that would pretty much replicate the way my mind was working around 1 am on Wednesday morning. I had a fever in college and went to a film class where my professor showed “Metropolis” while playing Philip Glass music loudly, as close to a Timothy Leary experience as I’ve ever had. Ranker.com lists 92 songs that have “fever” in the title but I’ve never heard of two-thirds of them so perhaps fevers are not as inspirational or compelling as songwriters think. I’m sure I’d recognize way more songs that have “sun” in the title.
Anyway, feeling better now, thanks.