Friday, September 21, 2012

Italian Leather Sofa

Somebody on the facebook asked what Cake's "Italian Leather Sofa" means, and I decided to answer via teh blog.

The surface of the song is that the singer is upset that this lady he likes is with another man and that she's allowed wealth, not virtue, to determine her choice. "She doesn't care whether or not he's a good man," the presumption being that the singer is a good man and he, the romantic rival, is not. The singer is particularly upset at the idea of his lady friend and this man, who has money to wear gold watches and buy her nice things like silk dresses, having sex on a fancy sofa.

But there's another level. Why the reference to healthy breasts (not "nice" or "full" or even "vibrant")? And keeping her friends? Apparently there are things that this unnamed man's money can buy that our impoverished singer can't buy, things that are important. Yes, there's a surface materialism to her attraction, but there are also more significant reasons.

This song is a cynical confirmation of what another pop song, Sonny & Cher's "I Got You, Babe," was also addressing. No, your love won't pay the rent, and it won't let your lady maintain a relationship with her friends or fulfill her housekeeping responsibilities with dull knives and recycled off-brand plastic baggies.

In modern America, money buys you health and friendships and domestic happiness. Our narrator knows this but can't accept it. He starts with references to islands and ships and making money, but he cannot ignore the unpleasant truths of the situation.

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