Friday, October 26, 2012

Pete Shelley -- "Homosapien" (1981)

I'm the shy boy
You're the coy boy
And you know we're
Homosapien, too

Actually, you and I are Homo sapiens sapiens.  (At least I am.  Sometimes I wonder about you.)  

That's the subspecies of Homo sapiens ("thinking man") that includes anatomically modern humans, and which began to appear about 200,000 years ago.

Homo sapiens is an older category that evolved from the earlier Homo erectus species about 500,000 years ago and which included several archaic varieties of hominids with a brain size similar to that of modern humans, but which are distinguished from modern humans because they have a thick skull and prominent eyebrow ridges but lack a prominent chin.

Picture the Geico caveman:

Or picture ex-Boston Red Sox player Johnny Damon (who was obviously separated at birth from the guy above):

You can make fun of Damon's looks if you want to, but here's a picture of his wife, Michelle:

(Michelle reportedly made a few of the Red Sox wives and girlfriends unhappy by obnoxiously comparing her eight-carat canary-yellow diamond engagement ring to their engagement rings.)

In 1976, Pete Shelley co-founded the very successful pop-punk group, the Buzzcocks.  The Buzzcocks broke up in 1981, and Shelley released a solo album titled Homosapien [sic] later that year.  The title track of that album was released as a single that same year. 

Homo is Latin for human being, but it is also a pejorative term for a homosexual male.  Shelley's reference to homosapien may simply be a reference to modern humans ("thinking man" in Latin), or it may be a reference to a wise, self-aware homosexual.

"Homosapien" was banned by the BBC for allegedly making "explicit reference to gay sex."  Shelley does not admit to being gay -- or, at least, does not admit to being just gay.  Here's what Shelley had to say in 1982:

That the BBC thought it was a gay song is great, fantastic.  I'm a sexual person, I don't bother delineating myself into homo, hetero or bi, it just depends on the person, the situation and what happens.
In some ways it can be interpreted as being homosexual but it's basically about being a human being and having got over your bestial impulses and fallen in love with someone who's a homosapien rather than a canine or something.
You'll probably interpret that as though I've just had a long affair with an Alsatian dog.  It's just really good that I fell in love with someone of my own species. I  don't take a copyright out on the ideas. I haven't got a monopoly on them.  If a song throws up ideas for people then I'd rather they discuss it amongst themselves.

Whoa, nelly!  Who said anything about affairs with Alsatian dogs, Pete -- although Alsatians are exceptionally handsome dogs.  (Shelley is undoubtedly referring to what Americans would call German Shepherds, which were called Alsatians by the British until fairly recently.)

"Homosapien" was on the mix tape that my late friend Scott made for me about 30 years ago.  Click here to read more about Scott and that tape.

Here's "Homosapien":

Click here to order "Homosapien" from Amazon:

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