Da Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart (Warner Bros, 1979)

Rod the Bod decided to put a toe in the disco waters in 1978 with a song styled after the Rolling Stones’ Miss You. He ended up waist deep in the lake with a massive hit which a spent a month at #1 in early 1979. While I never mistake Miss You as a disco song, it’s hard not to think of Sexy as one, a very very bad one.

The prancing peacock ended up spending 17 weeks at #1 in the 70s with only 3 hits. When Rod hit the ball, it landed in the stadium parking lot. This 45 was selling at 200K a weekly clip, eventually going over the 2 million mark. It was huge around the world and inspired millions of women to answer his question with a loud Yes! Really. It also inspired many critics to accuse Stewart of cashing on the disco cow. surprisingly it never really hurt his career, save for the occasional stomach pumping rumor.

For me, I just laugh at what a poor recording it is. It sounds like Rod got this together after a late night of drinking. Let’s break it down in pieces:

First, the lyrics. Rod had recently hooked up with ex-Vanilla Fudge Carmine Appice who was last heard from trying to destroy the sound of Motown. When Rod mentioned that he’s like to sort of to do a kind of disco tune, Carmine commenced on writing lyrics for a story that when read feel like an excerpt from American Psycho.

She sits alone waiting for suggestions
He’s so nervous avoiding all her questions
His lips are dry, her heart is gently pounding
Don’t you just know exactly what they’re thinking?

I’m thinking she’s thinking why is this guy sweating profusely and ignoring everything I ask him. I’m thinking he’s thinking she looks good enough to eat, with some fava beans.

If you want my body and you think I’m sexy
Come on, sugar, let me know
If you really need me just reach out and touch me
Come on, honey, tell me so

He’s acting shy looking for an answer
Come on, honey, let’s spend the night together

Wait a second, he has yet to ask a question. In fact he’s avoiding her questions.

Now hold on a minute before we go much further
Give me a dime so I can phone my mother

This confuses me because which one need to call their mother? Her? How old is she? ‘Mommy I think we’re gonna have a sleepover after the movie’. Him? ‘Yes she’s very pretty, but not as pretty as you, mommy.’

They catch a cab to his high rise apartment
At last he can tell her exactly what his heart meant

This is starting to sound creepier by the moment. Also apartment & heart meant – nice rhyme Carmine.

His heart’s beating like a drum
‘Cause at last he’s got his girl home
Relax, baby, now we are alone

And cue, meat cleaver…

They wake at dawn ’cause all the birds are singing
Two total strangers but that ain’t what they’re thinking
Outside it’s cold, misty and it’s raining
They got each other, neither one’s complaining

How exactly do you hear the birds singing when you live in a high rise apartment in the city. And are the birds really singing when it’s raining? Also sounds like he chickened out with psycho stuff and just screwed her instead.

He says I’m sorry but I’m out of milk and coffee
Never mind, sugar, we can watch the early movie

She can’t even get some breakfast. She needs something to eat to distract her from her loss of self-respect. Maybe an early showing of Carrie will do the trick?

Now let’s talking about the music. Rod stole the chorus of this from a 1976 Jorge Ben tune called Taj Mahal. And when he thieved it, he didn’t even try to disguise it. Take a listen 38 seconds in:

Jorge sued and Rod smartly gave the royalties to UNICEF. Not sure if Jorge Ben ever got any money and I have never seen his name listed as a writer on that song. And it doesn’t stop there, the string hook was directly stolen from a 1975 Bobby Womack tune called (If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It. Listen to this 17 seconds in:

I don’t think Bobby sued or got any money and he sure didn’t get any songwriter credit. Unbelievable, huh?

And then there’s the issue of the drummer. If you want to create a disco song, or at least something with a beat, after Animal from the Muppets the next worse choice would be Carmine Appice. It’s obvious he’s never kept a beat in his life, let alone listened to a disco track. He sounds like he has clubs for hands and feet. Anyone from the cast of Quest For Fire would have done a better job beating on a dead wooly mammoth. Don’t believe me? Listen to his drum fill at 3:28. Also why the hell is this song so long – 5 1/2 minutes? Well mostly because no matter how much the rhythm players push Carmine, he can’t keep up and actually drags the song down. Plus it sounds like he loses one of his sticks towards the end where a probably frustrated Rod signals keep going and pretends it’s a break it down moment. Until Caveman Appice loudly stumbles back in or trips over his drum kit – I can’t tell.

This song more than any other one is the reason for the Disco Sucks movement. Real disco would shrink away from the spotlight back to the clubs where it started and spawned many sub genres including new wave, house and techno. Rod gave us a Love Touch.

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8 Comments

  1. J.D.

     /  July 23, 2011

    In my opinion the lyrics should have been “give me a dime so I can buy a condom” but that was too much for 1978…

    Reply
  2. Wow. Never knew about either of those shameless rip-offs. Used to be a guilty pleasure of mine. Now I’ll never listen to it the same way again. In fact, I’ll never listen to again at all. PS

    Reply
  3. Ric Dube

     /  January 5, 2012

    I don’t think Jorge had much of a case but Bobby did. Was he too bored with the single to hear it all the way through and react? I always thought it was among the best of the “bandwagon disco” numbers, alongside KISS’ “I Was Made for Loving You,” which I’m guessing is either written about elsewhere on this blog or is on some sort of to-do list.

    Also, note that Rod’s tune is actually titled “Da (sic) Ya Think I’m Sexy?” making its most significant contribution to culture a new form of a verb. That didn’t catch on either.

    Reply
    • In my estimation the best disco/rock hybrid tracks from the late 70s were: Heart Of Glass by Blondie; Miss You by The Stones; I Was Made For Lovin’ You by Kiss; Da Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod; and Hot Stuff by Donna Summer. PS

      Reply
    • Thanks Ric for pointing out the ‘da’. I guess Rod wrote that title as if he was John Wayne.

      Reply
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