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Whip It

“Go forward, move ahead, try to detect it, it’s not too late.”

Let’s get one thing clear about Devo’s biggest hit of all time: “Whip It” is not a song about masturbation, or S&M. At least that’s the story that everyone involved is sticking to, and it seems unlikely that a band who in 1974 had recorded a demo with the lyrics “I need a chick to suck my dick” (later released on Hardcore Devo: Volume 2) would demur on this point.

According to Jerry, who wrote the lyrics, “Whip It” is a tongue-in-cheek pep talk satirizing hollow American optimism. “I had been reading Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and he had these limericks and poems in there that really made me laugh, where he was making fun of all the American, capitalist, can-do clichés—Horatio Alger—‘there’s nobody else like you,’ ‘you’re number one,’ ‘you can do it.’ And I was just trying my hand at it.” Read more >

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