In Which I Take Issue With the Ancient “Heart” Song “Barracuda”

Yesterday I was torturing my poor family listening to terrible music from the late 70’s and early 80’s… some Air Supply, some Al Stewart, (no, not Rod, Al.) a tour through Chicago, Boston and Kansas, a little Knack, Cheap Trick, Frampton, Split Enz, Donnie Iris, ELO, etc.

Awful, really. I mean, just horrifying. A nightmare beyond the boundaries of human comprehension, actually. It’s amazing I managed to live through that era of music, though I wasn’t living well, come to think of it.

It’s important to learn from it, though, so as not to repeat the sins of the past. And that’s why I put Gerry Rafferty on every so often.

…And I was listening to “Barracuda” by Heart, and I got to thinking, is Ms. Wilson REALLY saying “You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn it to the wick, now whoon’tcha, Barracuda?” -Because that’s inane.

It’s bothered me since 1977, technically.
(“Dude, I am gonna take this candle, and I am totally gonna burn it to the wick.”)

Today I looked it up, and to my relief, the actual line apparently is: “You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn INto the wick.” Now that makes sense. (“Francis, if you’re gonna light that candle, make sure you burn into the wick, and don’t just melt the exterior wax like last time.”)

And I mean, “ick” is one of the easier rhymes, isn’t it? I admit they’d already used “trick” and “quick,”
but they never even tried for click, shtick, flick, stick, pick, chick or a plethora of other single-syllable icks. There was no reason to stretch for wick. But anyway, serendipitously, I found that there were whole levels to the song that I never realized. I knew that there were a number of references to swimming, because a Barracuda is a fish, after all, but I had no idea that a porpoise was involved at all.

Here, for your edification, is the Lyric:

Barracuda; a poem; by Heart

So this ain’t the end – I saw you again today
I had to turn my heart away
You smile like the Sun – kisses for everyone
And tales – it never fails!

You lying so low in the weeds
I bet you gonna ambush me
You’d have me down, down, down, down on my knees
Wouldn’t you, Barracuda? Ohhh

Back over time we were all trying for free
You met the porpoise and me, uh huh
No right no wrong… selling a song-
A name whisper game.

And if the real thing don’t do the trick
You better make up something quick
You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn into the wick
Ooh, Barracuda? Ohhhh…yeah

“Sell me sell you” the porpoise said
Dive down deep down save my head
You…I think that you got the blues too.

All that night and all the next, swam without looking back
Made out for western pools – silly, silly fools!

The real thing don’t do the trick, no
You better make up something quick
You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn into the wick
Ohhh, Barra…barracuda! Yeah

Here are some other minor things I find problematic:

1. In the first verse, is Ms. Wilson referring to the Barracuda when she describes a “Smile Like the Sun?” Have you ever SEEN a Barracuda smile? It’s not Sunny. Maybe that’s the Porpoise smiling. They have nice smiles. Or IS the Barracuda the Porpoise? Apparently not, because in the third verse, the Barracuda meets the Porpoise and Ms. Wilson. So DOES Ms. Wilson find a Barracuda’s smile pleasant, like the Sun? Or does she find the Sun to be hideous, with baleful eyes and protruding jagged teeth? Unclear.

2. In the second verse, I presume that Ms. Wilson is referring to SEAweed, when she states that the Barracuda is lying “So low in the weeds.” Unless she thinks a Barracuda is some kind of Amphibian. There’s a dry land implication in the word “Ambush,” too, so it’s troubling. And if this is an underwater scenario, why is the Barracuda “Lying?” Do fish lie around on the floor of the ocean? Don’t they sort of float, even when they’re napping? Wouldn’t it have been better to say : “You’re lurking so low in seaweed?” Or something?

3. Back to the first verse: Can Ms. Wilson turn her heart independent of the rest of her torso? That’s a valuable skill, and it would explain why they named the band “Heart.”

4. I understand that the Barracuda is bad, although he has a winning smile. But is the Porpoise also kind of on the grift, with all this “Sell me, sell you” stuff? I mean, Flipper the pimp. And how can Ms. Wilson tell that the Barracuda has the Blues, when he smiles so Sunnily? Or is it the Porpoise that has the blues? Unclear.

5. Another metaphor that disturbs me is the idea that a Barracuda would want Ms. Wilson on her knees. For what? Why beg a Barracuda? What do they care? So wouldn’t a better lyric in this case have been; “You’re gonna bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite me on the knee, now whoon’tcha, Barracuda?” Or something?

6. When they’re swimming all that night and all the next for the Western Pools, is Ms. Wilson referring to the chlorinated decadent in-ground pools of the hopelessly entitled wastrels in water-starved Southern California? I understand that the Wilson sisters are from California, so I assume that that’s where they navigate from, metaphorically. But if you’re Swimming West FROM California, You’d end up in the East, like in Japan, before you got to any pools, from what I understand of geography. And is chlorine even good for Porpoises?

If anyone can shed any light on any of this, let me know.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE the experience of having read this article at your chosen value, and just like that, you are an exemplar of modern interwebs art patronage. Sincere thanks for your support!
~ Love, Nitro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s