Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun

In the mid-eighties, a girl I knew kept playing this song over and over. It got on my nerves but after a while I found myself liking it. I ended up liking the song more than I did the girl. A Blister In The Sun was released in 1983.

The song had a cult following and was favorite on American college radio in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, an alternative and modern rock radio stations went on the air, it got a lot of airplay because it was considered a classic of the genre. The album gradually sold over one million copies and earned the Violent Femmes a large fan base.

From Songfacts

Written by Violent Femmes lead singer Gordan Gano, this song sure sounds like an ode to masturbation:

Body and beats
I stain my sheets
I don’t even know why
My girlfriend, she’s at the end
She is starting to cry

Gano says it isn’t, and that he didn’t hear that interpretation until years later. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot to understand with the lyrics,” he told the Village Voice. “But I can see where people could get that idea.”

Gano is coy in discussing the song, but he has explained that it’s about the strung-out feeling that comes from drug abuse. The girlfriend is at her wit’s end because he keeps staining the sheets, as he lacks sexual control.

This is the first song on the first Violent Femmes album, introducing the band with the famous guitar riff and snare hits. The band made inroads with songs like this one about adolescent insecurities delivered in a deprecating tone. Gordon Gano was just 19 when the album was released.

The line, “Big hands I know you’re the one” is in the song because Gano has small hands. In the song, he’s in a self-loathing state where he knows the girl is just going to take up with some big-handed guy.

In 2007, this was used in commercials for the fast food purveyor Wendy’s. Gordon Gano authorized its use, which triggered a lawsuit by the group’s bass player Brian Ritchie, who stated: “I don’t like having my sound misappropriated to sell harmful products, such as fast food… that’s not why we made the music. It should not be hijacked.” Ritchie cited misappropriation of jointly owned intellectual property as the basis for his suit.

Ritchie also blasted Gano in the publication OnMilwaukee, where he wrote, “When you see dubious or in this case disgusting uses of our music you can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates. Neither Gordon (vegetarian) nor me (gourmet) eat garbage like Wendy’s burgers.”

The band was still touring when this went down, but they broke up soon after. They didn’t return to action until 2013, when they played the Coachella festival.

This was featured in the 1997 John Cusack film Grosse Pointe Blank. The soundtrack includes two versions of the song, the original 1982 release and a remake entitled “Blister 2000.” The remake is slower and has kind of a funky instrumental sax solo in the middle. >>

A multi-instrumental cover of the song was used in a 2012 television commercial for the Hewlett-Packard DV6T notebook. In the ad, the song in played in various styles, including gospel, Mariachi and metal.

The barefoot child peeking into an old building on the album cover is three-year-old Billie Jo Campbell, who photographer Ron Hugo spotted walking with her mother in Los Angeles. Speaking to MTV News in 2007, Campbell recalled: “I remember looking into that building, and they kept telling me there are animals in there. I had no idea there were photographers there. I was pissed off that I couldn’t see the animals.”

Blister in the Sun

When I’m out walking
I strut my stuff
And I’m so strung out
I’m high as a kite
I just might stop to check you out

Let me go on like I
Blister in the sun
Let me go on
Big hands, I know you’re the one

Body and beats,
I stain my sheets
I don’t even know why
My girlfriend, she’s at the end,
She is starting to cry

Let me go on like I
Blister in the sun
Let me go on
Big hands, I know you’re the one

When I’m out walking
I strut my stuff
And I’m so strung out
I’m high as a kite
I just might stop to check you out

When I’m out walking
I strut my stuff
And I’m so strung out
I’m high as a kite
I just might stop to check you out

Body and beats,
I stain my sheets
I don’t even know why
My girlfriend, she’s at the end,
She is starting to cry

When I’m out walking
I strut my stuff
And I’m so strung out
I’m high as a kite
I just might stop to check you out

Let me go on like I
Blister in the sun
Let me go on
Big hands, I know you’re the one

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

31 thoughts on “Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun”

  1. This was a good one from a music listening perspective, which was apparently all that mattered to me back then. I don’t remember ever paying attention to the lyrics. They are a lot more sobering than the tempo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes they are sobering…a good word…It’s a song that was annoying at first to me and then I liked it…it was probably her I didn’t like to begin with lol…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Decent song and it brings back memories for me too. Sort of one of the ultimate CFNY tunes in toronto in the ’80s – a big hit on the alternative rock station, but unheard of otherwise. Now, things have changed… I sometimes hear it on the morning show with the likes of Def Leppard and Abba.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’ t remember that… Odd choice though. Was it one from a few years back with Morgan Smith (the red-haired girl?) I like most of those.

        Like

      1. Now THAT would be a party. Speaking of Bill Murray, have you seen there is a new series on netflix about his “crashing” parties, showing up here and there, etc.? Forgot the name of it, but I watched the first episode. Not sure what I think about it. In one way it is cool as hell but in another it kind of creeps me out. Hard to explain….

        Like

      2. Pending folder…
        I love Bill Murray…Bill has always been on that line between funny and a little creepy lol… I never thought about that until you said it. I’ll look that up.

        Like

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