Hate Proof: Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes”

You probably won’t believe this, but when I was a stage actor in the late 90s, I hung around with an actual carny. A guy who really did run off to join the circus as a kid, name of D.C.; a character so colorful, the memories seem like legends. We used to cruise the streets of Savannah in his gigantic box truck and pick up chicks. It was every bit as great as it sounds. Who amongst you can say you’ve been a carny’s wingman?

I have no idea where D.C. went after the century’s turn. Probably somewhere fun and awesome, relatively close to a beach or a circus. Backstage when we were castmates in a production of Brendan Behan’s The Hostage, he would signal an impending night of debauchery by singing “pound note, pound note.”


I got to kiss three different actresses per show during that play’s run, and then I’d go carouse with my carny friend afterward. This is a big part of why I’m so mad all the time; I have experiences like these to compare with the present. I was an inveterate pub crawler; I knew a girl who would tell every bartender in town that it was my birthday, on any night, and I once arrived at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s with the fanfare of empty beer bottles rolling out of my girlfriend’s truck, onto asphalt. I come from drinking culture, folks. What can I say.

Anyway; the raucous carny, the rumbling box truck, the sloppy make-outs with strange maidens- all these things are perfectly accompanied by Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes”. The song and the memory are permanently fused. I can’t imagine a better soundtrack for such shenanigans.

“Goody Two Shoes” kicks off with a heavily-reverbed, uptempo shuffle, leading into a saucy guitar (bass?) twang. Right off the bat we get an image of young female legs, shy, trembling to the rhythm of the jukebox in a cavernous space. Hopefully that’s an honest evocation of the music, and not just something I fucking half-remembered from the video.

Next we get a delirious, pixillated horn section, providing a brassy, almost mocking back-and-forth for the song’s hook. The martial pace and briskness knock energy into the air like colorful party balloons. Then Adam Ant appears like a soused martinet.

With the heartbreak open
So much you can’t hide
Put on a little makeup, makeup
Make sure they get your good side, good side

If the words unspoken
Get stuck in your throat
Send a treasure token, token
Write it on a pound note, pound note

I never understood the “two shoes” part. Is Goody a prude because she wears two shoes instead of one? That’s a grim judgment to place on a girl.

Regardless, the words “Goody Two Shoes” make for a choice chorus, like vocal paradiddles. Ant overdubs the vocals, and he clearly knows more than a thing or two about harmony. He has the timing of a drummer, which is a nice counterpart to the drums themselves.

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Subtle innuendos follow
There must be something inside

This is great pop. Since I know it’s already stuck in your head, here it is.

Chris Hughes was Adam Ant’s drummer and producer; I don’t think he played on this track (credit goes to Bogdan Wiczling), but I know that he also produced Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair, and co-wrote “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. He’s one of those dudes I research on Wikipedia, and then quietly mouth the words “holy shit”. Hughes also co-produced Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain”, and in 1994, he released the solo album Shift, a tribute to my hero and his, minimalist composer Steve Reich. HOLY SHIT.

Martin Drover and Jeff Daly built the horn section, and the guitarist was Marco Pirroni, who would go on to play guitar on Sinead O’Connor’s superb The Lion And The Cobra. Adam Ant was born Stuart Leslie Goddard in 1954, and since 2010, he has been actively reinvigorating his career, according to (what else) Wikipedia.

There’s no way that’s happening without “Goody Two Shoes”.


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Filed under Bad Influences, Faint Signals, Nostalgic Obsessions, Thousand Listen Club