Lab Tracks

Lab Track: Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine

Today’s Lab Track, suggested by everybody’s favorite Surly Amy, makes me very happy. I get positively giddy when it turns out that a band I listen to fairly regularly has a song about skepticism. And when it’s about my favorite area of skepticism — alternative medicine — I get even giddierer.

In this track, The White Stripes lambasts someone who refuses to use “mainstream” medicine (“Is the problem you’re allergic to a well familiar name?”). The only thing better than this is the fact that they found something to rhyme with acetaminophen. Well done, guys. Well done.

Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine
The White Stripes

Girl
You have no faith in medicine
Oh girl
You have no faith in medicine
Acetaminophen
You see the medicine
Oh girl

Is there a way to find the cure for this implanted in a pill
It’s just the name upon the bottle, which determines if it will
Is the problem you’re allergic to a well familiar name?
Do you have a problem with this one if the results are the same?

Acetaminophen
You see the medicine
Oh girl
You have no faith in medicine
Oh girl
You have no faith in medicine
Acetaminophen
You see the medicine
Oh girl

But girl
You have no faith in medicine
Acetaminophen
You see the medicine
Oh girl

Well strip the bark right off a tree and just hand it this way
Don’t even need a drink of water to make the headache go away
Give me a sugar pill and watch me just rattle down the street

Acetaminophen
You see the medicine
Oh girl
You have no faith in medicine
Oh girl
You have no faith in medicine
Oh girl
Oh girl

This has been another installment of Monday Lab Tracks. Send us your musical recommendations through our contact link at the top of the page, and tell us what you think of the song in the comments below!

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Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

5 Comments

  1. December 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    One of my favorite White Stripes songs! Love it.

  2. December 11, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Rad!

  3. December 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I’ve listen to that album hundreds of times and never heard Acetaminophen in the lyrics. Sigh. One more reason to wear hearing protection kids.

    I’m not exactly sure that the message is purely skeptical though. The part about sugar pills could be read to mean that placebos are just as useful as real medicines.

    This is the place where art and skepticism tangle up in an ugly way for me. Good art often has an ambiguity to it, and rightly so. There’s nothing wrong with leaving multiple interpretations open to the viewer/auditor. Art is subjective and therein lies much of its beauty.

    But skepticism for me is about removing ambiguity wherever possible and clearly defining the places where definite knowledge is lacking. To cloud the waters with deliberate, or accidental I suppose, ambiguity does a disservice to skepticism.

    Or does it? This is a new thought for me.

  4. December 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    That’s an interesting take on it, coelecanth. That reminds me of when I finally got to meet Quiet Company (a quite atheist-y band) in person, and Taylor Muse (the lead singer) told me they had just played a few shows in the south for a very Christian crowd. But guess what — because he mentioned God and Jesus a few times in the lyrics, they loved it. They thought the band was on their side. I s’pose we just find the meaning that we look for. I found this to be skeptical, while someone else might find it to be delightfully alt-med.

    But in defense of the song, I feel like the sugar pill verse is definitely skeptical if you look at it in the context of the whole piece.

  5. December 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I guess that’s my point Smashley. When it comes to skepticism I’m uneasy with artistic ambiguity in a way that I’m not with any other subject. Perhaps it’s just an over-protectiveness born of a unwarranted sense of ownership, but I do feel that skepticism is about clarity, evidence and knowledge, and those things are not served by something so loosely constructed that a wooish interpretation is possible.

    That said, how do you make a song that isn’t just awful didactic preaching if you don’t allow some ambiguity?

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