Music & Songs The Savage Life

Savage Life

Pink, shirtless John Henderson

I wrote this song one evening while baking a beer cake for a friend who was coming over for dinner. How idyllic! I thought to myself. How pastoral! Look at me– wearing my apron, baking a cake for a friend! I am truly on my way to becoming the Salt of the Earth!

But becoming a true Noble Savage was presenting me with difficulties. One was my revulsion to body odor- something which (I had read in natural living magazines) I was supposed to prefer to the sanitized smell of chemicals. And my dinner guest was kind of an artist when it came to body odor. Would this be the day he filled his socks with raw garlic to naturally defeat foot odor? The day he bathed in onion juice to remove negative thought forms from his aura? Each time I saw him, he seemed to have invented a new olfactory horror– a week of no showers mixed with jasmine blossoms– a day of sweaty work followed by a bath in chili sauce… one thing I knew is that the smell would be truly horrifying and a stomach wrenching blend of nastiness I had never encountered before.

But- he was my friend! And wasn’t I supposed to delight in the aromas of nature? On two previous occasions, I had resorted to suggesting that he eat his dinner alone on the balcony so that he could enjoy the sunset in peace and solitude, but even then, I would eat in dread, bracing myself for the moment he would crack open the door to make small talk, and the stench of pig intestines and frankincense would fill the room. But even while wretching, I felt ashamed. I imagined that Gandhi and Mother Teresa wouldn’t care if someone used apple cider vinegar as a natural alternative to deodorant. A saint would either find the beauty in all smells, or possibly have a nose so full of love that they couldn’t smell anything else.

So, I think this song grew from the conflict between my fanciful desire to place all things savage upon a pedestal, and a gut level revulsion to beastly smells. And on a deeper level, perhaps I was beginning to doubt if sprouting lima bean seeds from eggs shells was really the meaning of my life.

Download MP3: Savage Life

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