In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: David Yow made a name for himself in the ’80s and ’90s not just as the frontman for seminal noise acts Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard, but also as the oft-nude jester of rock. Though his musical résumé is impressive, Yow has endeared himself even more to fans with his sly, sharp wit. Lately, Yow has expanded his skill set by venturing into acting and graphic design. He’s appeared in movies like Insane Clown Posse’s Big Money Rustlas and just released his very first solo LP, Tonight You Look Like A Spider, complete with a handmade, limited-edition concrete “vinyl-displaying sculpture.”
The hated: Stephen Stills, “Love The One You’re With” (1970)
David Yow: I’m not really prepared for this, but in a way I think that’s kind of all right, if that makes sense.
The A.V. Club: Of course. You already know in your heart why this is the song.
DY: Well, I know the big line about “If you can’t be with the one you really love / Love the one you’re with” and something about “the eagle flies with the dove” or something like that.
AVC: The lyrics contain lines about both a “rose in a fisted glove” and the “eagle flies with the dove.”
DY: Is Stephen Stills still alive? Do you know?
AVC: He is. He’s 68 years old.
DY: Well, I’m going to choke the life out of him before he reaches 69.
AVC: Why is this the song you picked out of all songs that exist?
DY: It was really difficult for me because I’m not very hateful. Finding something that I hated was really difficult. The only thing that I really hate is stupidity, and this song is pretty fucking stupid.
I’m not completely naïve, and I understand that infidelity can happen or one-night stands or flings or whatever; that’s not unnatural. But the attitude, from the get-go, that if you can’t be with the person that you care about the most and that you love, you should go ahead and fuck whoever is there is completely repugnant.
I think Stephen Stills should be tortured to death.
AVC: Supposedly it was some line Billy Preston would use all the time, and Stephen Stills was like, “That would make a good song. Can I use it?”
DY: Really? Wow. Billy Preston was one of the Beatles, wasn’t he?
DY: Wow. Now that really hurts. I would have thought it was Stephen Stills’ fault, but now that we can blame Billy Preston, I’m angry.
AVC: Why don’t you like Stephen Stills?
DY: Probably because of that song. I don’t really know all his Crosby, Stills & Nash stuff, but I do know that Crosby, Stills & Nash was a lot better when they had Young in there. I don’t know what that has to do or doesn’t have to do with Stephen Stills. My only beef with Stephen Stills is that song.
AVC: It’s not a particularly deep song. The lyrics are pretty much “love the one you’re with” over and over.
DY: Yeah. The rose and the fisted glove. Based on the contrast that it’s okay for an eagle to fuck a dove and a rose to fuck a fist, I suppose maybe that’s okay. That’d be sort of a “one world” concept.
AVC: It’s a pretty hippie-dippy concept.
DY: Yeah, but “one world” is not necessarily implying that you should go ahead and fuck whoever is in the room. I’m not down with that.
AVC: There’s also a line in here, “Turn your heartaches into joy / She’s a girl, you’re a boy / Get it together, make it nice / Ain’t gonna need no advice.” Then it goes back into the chorus.
DY: [Laughs.] Pathetic. That’s pathetic. Would he play that song for his parents?
AVC: Should that be the rule? Would you play your songs for your parents?
DY: Yes. But whenever I lay out the artwork for records, I arrange it so you can keep the cover of the CD and cut the lyric sheet out.
DY: Yeah, because I would give my parents the records. They liked the band and would come to all the shows and stuff. My dad would wear our shirts and stuff, but my mom was very, very sweet and gentle and kind of naïve, and she would not have understood what was going on with the lyrics.
AVC: Did you do that just for your parents or did you do it for the other kids out there that were listening to The Jesus Lizard?
DY: The other kids weren’t a concern of mine.
AVC: It was a little surprising that this is the song you picked, but then again, it kind of makes sense. It’s certainly not something I’d ever actively choose to listen to.
DY: For me, it was toss-up between anything that Eddie Vedder sang or anything that guy from Creed sang. Another was the song, [Begins singing.] “I don’t mind stealing bread.”
AVC: Temple Of The Dog’s “Hunger Strike”?
DY: Yeah. That one was definitely in the running.
AVC: Why don’t you like Eddie Vedder?
DY: I can’t stand the way he sings. I’ve talked to friends who know him, and they say he’s a wonderful guy. I don’t want to insult him or make him feel bad, but, jeez, I can’t stand the way he sings.
AVC: But that seems okay. If he said that to you, you’d say, “Fair enough. If that’s how you feel.”
DY: Absolutely, yeah. And that’s how it should be. I’ve always thought that it’s a matter of taste. You can’t be offended if someone doesn’t like what you do in whatever art form, whether it’s painting or drawing or sculpture or dance or whatever. If someone doesn’t like it, you can’t hold that against them.
I remember back in my punk rock days in Austin, Texas, there was the great band The Dicks, one of the greatest bands of all time, and then you had The Stains, who later became MDC. They were always on the same bill. It was always The Dicks and The Stains.
I got really tired of that pairing, so I wrote on the wall in front of one of the clubs, “I’m so bored with the Dicks and Stains” sort of like you’d sing, “I’m so bored.”
So I was sitting there by that graffiti when Glen [Taylor] from The Dicks saw that and he got REALLY angry. I couldn’t believe it; I couldn’t believe he was that pissed off that someone wrote, “I’m so bored with the Dicks and Stains.” He was the constantly drunk guitar player for The Dicks. How could he care? He died of beer drinking; he didn’t even drink booze, he died of beer drinking.
AVC: On one hand, he should care, because music is his livelihood. But on the other hand, it’s just art, and there are bands he probably didn’t like.
DY: You’re absolutely right.
AVC: But you want to choke Stephen Stills to death?
DY: Yeah… I guess I do.
AVC: There’s a picture of him on Wikipedia. He looks very chokeable.
DY: Old Stephen “Chokeable” Stills. I love his chokeability.
AVC: Some people say he’s one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century.
DY: Is that what Wikipedia says?
AVC: Yes, it is, for what that’s worth.
DY: Oh my God. That’s just horrible.
AVC: And he tried to be in The Monkees.
DY: Well, Neil Young did as well, I think. I like Neil Young quite a bit.
AVC: That’s good. Neil Young probably likes Stephen Stills.
DY: And Crosby probably likes Stephen Stills. And Nash.