The guy walked up to me and said—well, what he said started with a word not often seen in print. He ended his two-word phrase with a “you”. Far from being insulted, I was instead so overcome by his artistic brilliance, by the sheer eloquence of his remark, that I organized an ad hoc street committee so that we could vote this gentleman a major award.
The man, whose named I discovered to be Cee Lo Green, gracefully accepted our honorarium but said he thought it was misplaced. He explained that he wasn’t speaking to me, but that I happened to be in earshot at the same moment he was practicing a speech he hoped to give at this year’s Grammy Awards.
Turns out that that phrase was also the title of his new record, and that this record was nominated for Record Of The Year. Whether he won the coveted prize or not, Green planned to unleash his art on the Grammy crowd because, he reasoned, they seemed to enjoy hearing it.
He thought his chance of winning good. His colleague Eminem had used this same phrase liberally on his own nominated record, but that gentleman did not peg to the trick of including it in the record title itself. Further, the other three entrants used the phrase sparingly or not at all.
I asked if he could hum a few bars of his tune, so that I might gain a better appreciation of its merits. He started,
I see you driving ’round town
With the girl I love and I’m like,
Oo, oo, ooo
I guess the change in my pocket
Wasn’t enough, I’m like,
And f— her, too!
Ah, a painful, yet eternal theme. A lover jilted, his inamorata rushing to the arms of another, wealthier suitor. His sensitive evocation filled my thoughts with bittersweet images: the scene he painted was so vivid that I felt that I could reach out and touch the buddy Jesus perched on the dashboard of his rival’s car. I begged him to continue.
I said, if I was richer, I’d still be with ya
Ha, now ain’t that some s–t? (ain’t that some s–t?)
And although there’s pain in my chest
I still wish you the best with a
Oo, oo, ooo.
Listening to this painstakingly constructed poem, one could feel one’s spirit plunge into the abyss. Despair called upon despair. Could he be saying that the heartbreak he felt was of such vigorous force as to physically manifest itself? Surely this was a love more keenly alive and of a far greater strength than Romeo’s passion for Juliet. I wasn’t sure if my now weakened frame could withstand any additional art, but when he asked if I would like him to finish, I found myself nodding.
I pity the fool that falls in love with you
(oh, s–t, she’s a gold digger)
(just thought you should know, [nig-er])
It was too much. I was destroyed. This was unmistakable art of the highest order.
As I recovered, I reasoned that the case for his artistic genius was so well demonstrated that he must surely win. The 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy who had nominated this sublime song knew what they were doing. This song was a triumph, a culmination of democracy!
One could only guess of the satisfaction that the executives at Elektra, the publishers of Green’s record. I can picture an Elektra vice president coming home and saying to his wife, “Well, honey, it’s ‘F— you.’ Word is that I’m going to receive a bonus for promoting it! We’ll finally be able to afford that black velvet Elvis you’ve had your eye on.”
I shook Green’s hand and wished him well. I said that he didn’t need luck, and that I looked forward to watching him hoist his statuette and perform his masterpiece for all the world to appreciate. I would have liked to explore in depth the themes he began to develop, but Green could tarry no longer. He was in a rush to attend a screening of the new movie Little Fockers.