"Signs" is a 1970 song by the Canadian group "The Five Man Electrical Band", and also returned to fame in 1990 when hard rock group Tesla released a live cover of it. This is the only song by the band to reach prominence, making them a one-hit wonder of sorts.
The song attempts to be some sort of social commentary about how straight society is filled with rules and regulations. I don't know if anyone has ever come to an understanding of the oppressiveness of the bourgeois after having their consciousness awoken by this song. It comes across as a novelty song, and its entertainment value seems to be in the self-righteousness of the narrator as he strikes out at non-longhaired society. This reaches its height when he exclaims:
What gives you a right to put up a sign to keep me out, or to keep mother nature in?
If God were here, he'd tell you to your face, man, you're some kind of sinner.
Although channeling the judgment
of God is an accomplishment, it doesn't make the song that much more listenable. The only thing the song does accomplish is getting stuck firmly in the listener's head. A note should also be made about the cover version by Tesla
. I imagine that some sort of irony was intended in their cover, but even so, it was not particularly notable. I have commented earlier
that we have probably forgotten just how dull music was in the area immediately proceeding grunge
, and the fact that a hard rock band would be covering this song shows just how bad the situation was in the early 1990s.
There are many vapid pop songs. In fact, most pop songs are vapid. But in songs like "Signs", where they attempt to "make statements", they reach the pinnacle of annoyance.