I was sitting in my bedroom, minding my own business… I wasn’t bugging anybody, I wasn’t just doing what I do… when all of a sudden I see an email that looked particularly interesting. The subject said,
“Keep Her Satisfied ALL Night!” “PJ Harvey boot check it out!” and since I’m a PJ Harvey fan, I opened it to find exactly what I expected to find… a PJ Harvey bootleg of her un-frikkin’-believable song, “Long Snake Moan.”
So I downloaded it and was instantly transported back to my miniscule college room that consisted of a bookshelf made of bricks and slabs of wood, a sagging bed/cot against the wall, a couple of U2 posters, and a card table for a desk. It was a small room, but I wrote many a paper there that apparently did NOT reflect my best work.
“Long Snake Moan” is off her stellarly unprecedently mega-super-duper-uber-excellent 1995 record, To Bring You My Love. I wrote a bit about the record here, but to sum up, it was voted Album of the Year in 1995 by Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, People, USA Today, Hot Press, and The Los Angeles Times. I would have voted it album of the year as well if I owned a prestigious publication, but I was busy trying to keep my level of BS above sea level so that I could pass my courses.
I heard that PJ Harvey was disappointed that I wasn’t able to contribute, but she got over it by the time she took her next breath.
Regarding “Long Snake Moan…” the riff is so fierce, so primal, so intense that right from the start, it sends me into a mental frenzy… I say “mental” frenzy because there’s nobody around and I’d look pretty weird slam-dancing with air. The song explodes and is relentless until the end… Harvey’s distorted/compressed vocals only adds to the grind.
I have always wondered what a “long snake moan” is. Part of me thinks that it refers to Michael Ventura’s 1987 essay, “Hear That Long Snake Moan,” written about about where Jazz and Rock n’ Roll come from. Part of me thinks that it’s some sexual reference. Then there’s a part of me that thinks that it’s about power and control from the last lines, “Is my voodoo working?”
I really have no idea and I lost Harvey’s number to ask.
Here’s a live performance of “Long Snake Moan” from June 27, 1995 in Port Of Haifa at the Seaport Blues Festival in Israel… I’ve posted this performance and another one from the Wiltern Theatre from 10/2/95 below in the Dig-It section below. The studio version is also included for you to marvel at.
I love this song, I love this album.
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