366 Songs 242: Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis

As far as I’m concerned, this is the shining moment of Jarvis Cocker’s career, and it happens on a guest shot for someone else’s album. Officially, this song is credited to Barry Adamson, upon whose Oedipus Schmoedipus this comes from. But, whether it’s the spectacular arrangement behind Cocker – The vibes! The “Rocks”-esque drums! The thudding of the bass guitar! The strings! The choir! – the wonderfully desperate lyrics (“So please/So please/Don’t leave me alone in this double bed/It smells of damp towels and asthma inhalers,” while the choir plead for sexual release without masturbation, “Save me from my own hand!”) or just Cocker’s breathless performance, at once pathetic and (faux-)seductive, “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Pelvis” has long been the best thing Cocker has ever done, the fulfillment of all the promise of his Pulp themes performed with far more verve, gusto and humor than that band ever managed to achieve by themselves. It’s a very specific experience, this song, and one that may only appeal to those with furtive teenage sexual fumblings and unrequited desires, and yet… Yeah. This song is the real thing, for me.