Having bad sex to the music of a generation
Does raunch make sex better for young women? Maybe another generation is having no fun
Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke perform their raunchy dance at the MTV Video Music Awards. (Aug. 25, 2013)
Raunch used to consist of women getting out of limousines awkwardly while photographers crouched in wait for an errant junction triangle. Now it is twerking and Miley Cyrus’ barely there Band-Aid. But whatever the incarnation, raunch is widely deplored.
I disagree. I like raunch. It is displayed by people in their 20s and an older generation radiates disapproval. The fact is, young people are having a lot of sex — to their generational soundtrack — and if older people resent this, they should keep it to themselves.
But what I am trying to figure out is if young women are enjoying sex more than I did in my 20s. I cannot tell. What has changed is the omnipresence of porn, which is energizing but shows men having enthusiastic sex without skill.
Women then come to expect a lack of skill. I suspect that the sex that young people are having is not great, and this will only improve with practice, maybe in their 30s.
It didn’t occur to me to compare generational sexual experience until I heard that Linda Ronstadt’sParkinson’s Diseasemeans she will never sing another note. If this generation’s pop soundtrack is Justin Timberlake, mine was Springsteen and Ronstadt. Is bad sex related to the music of the era?
Since then I have been playing Ronstadt at home as much as I did in my 20s. I am shocked to my core. Ronstadt was sexy, her music was sexy, it was what we listened to while we were having sex and as I replay it, I realize it is the unhappiest music ever written. My ideas about men and women were born in Ronstadt’s key of D, the key that Dylan called “the key of regret.”
“(Ronstadt) was the one who taught the baby-boomers how to cry like, well, babies,” Ron Rosenbaum wrote in an Esquire piece about what Ronstadt had done to a generation, specifically with the song he thought was her saddest, “Long Long Time.” “I’ve done everything I know to try to make you mine,” she wailed, “and I think it’s gonna hurt me for a long, long time.” Love is sore, it aches, it is not blue, it is extreme navy.
Ronstadt agreed it was a killer. It’s the “Gloomy Sunday” (a classic Hungarian suicide song of the 1930s) of the 1970s. Actors have told her they milk it for their big-cry scenes.
She says her saddest song is “Talk to Me of Mendocino,” (written by Kate McGarrigle) but I say it is “Lose Again,” written by Karla Bonoff, who writes music that heads so deep and downward that you end up living inside your own veins.
You will never see Mendocino again (it was nice there), or Blue Bayou (home) for that matter. Nothing will save you from this ball and chain (love), even if you’ve made up your mind that you will leave today (you won’t). You know it’s insane but you love him (he tells lies) and you lose again (naturally).
Ronstadt is slumped against her microphone stand and I am frozen at my laptop. If this was the music of my sexy, romantic youth, it is now clear to me why I did something I haven’t previously admitted. At age 21, I stopped having sex for three years. If sex was this bad and love so paltry, I thought, I would give up on it.
And I did, though I made up for it later. A Frenchwoman just wrote a memoir about this, The Art of Sleeping Alone, but she blithers about philosophie and maintaining her bodily integrity. Screw bodily integrity, I was sleeping alone for Ronstadt reasons, for the fashion of the times. What do the kids do now? Are they all right?
“What came first, the music or the misery?” Nick Hornby once wrote. “People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos . . . Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.”
Maybe young women are twerking to their own version of harshly sad songs. Imagine grinding into a jerk like Robin Thicke. It’s like shovelling your own love grave.