While there's nothing like immersing yourself in an album full of fantastic tracks by a much-loved artist or band, there's also nothing like the giddy thrill of hearing that one-hit wonder from years ago as you're flipping around the dial. The sad news of the recent death of Chrissy Amphlett brought back memories of one of the most remarkable of the latter.
The year was 1990 and the song was 'I Touch Myself' by The Divinyls. While Madonna was touring the world on her Blonde Ambition tour, singing about being spanked ("Hanky Panky") and flaunting her wizard's-sleeve-vagina at every opportunity, Amphlett and her band were crafting a more subtle, subversive tune about the pleasures of having a good old rummage down the front of your undercrackers.
Not the first mainstream tune in history about the pleasures of self-pleasure (there's Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop", probably Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself" and possibly Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" which I always suspected was some sort of German euphemism for masturbation) it still caused a minor controversy generally as well as major awkwardness when it came on the car radio during a family trip out.
But kudos to Amphlett, bandmate Mark McEntee and the songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (who also wrote Madonna's "Like a Virgin") for crafting lyrics that go beyond that of "hot girl having a quick hand-shandy". Rather than singing the song from the point of view of a woman trying to be purely titillating, or as an attempt to prove that a woman can be just as sexually provocative as a man, the song is about a woman with -- get this -- some healthy self-esteem. The opening line of the chorus "I love myself" means not just in the onanistic sense, but that she knows she deserves a deeper satisfaction beyond the physical and isn't going to settle for someone who can't - or won't - help nurture that. The chorus continues:
I want you to love me
When I'm feeling down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me
Sure, it's innuendo and you can interpret it in a purely sexual way, which I won't deny is fun. But Amphlett was too smart for only that and sings it also as a plea to a man she feels can complement her in other, less fleshy - but equally important - ways. One gets the sense a relationship with the singer would be fulfilling in every sense of the word.
Amphlett died this past April at the age of 53 after battling both MS and breast cancer. A statement from her family included that she'd hoped this song would serve as a reminder to all women to perform annual breast examinations. So, in tribute to a great singer and a great song, let's all take moment to touch ourselves, both for our health and a little bit of cheeky self-entertainment.