The Rocker

I was listening to Spotify radio the other day, and one of the songs the musical aleph picked out for me was one called ‘The Rocker’ by Thin Lizzy. I hadn’t heard it before, but was immediately struck by the informative nature of the lyrics. In this song, Phil Lynott claims not only to be a ‘rocker’, but also, perhaps unintentionally, provides an invaluable guide to their identifying features. I couldn’t help feeling, however, that the song ultimately raised far more questions than it answered.

Here I present a breakdown and analysis of the lyrics, in the hope of achieving some sort of understanding of the nature of the tendencies that mark out a ‘rocker’.

‘I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble,
I’ll take no lip ’cause no ones tougher than me.’

In this opening couplet, we see that a ‘rocker’ has a propensity towards violence. If you go looking for him, it seems, he will immediately reward your interest with a display of aggression. This is unavoidably anti-social.

‘If I kicked your face you’d soon be seeing double,
Hey little girl, keep your hands off me ’cause I’m a rocker.’

Here, it gets more troubling. The ‘rocker’ is blatantly threatening to kick a ‘little girl’ in the face, simply because the small child touched him. ‘Rockers’ are often viewed as existing somewhat outside society, and this couplet offers a clue as to why this may be a good thing.

‘I’m a rocker!
I’m a roller too, baby.’

Now this is quite interesting. Not only is he a ‘rocker’, but also a ‘roller’. The two are clearly intended to be distinguishable, although what separates the signifying tendencies of a ‘rocker’ from a ‘roller’ is not clear. One can clearly be both, and the prominence Lynott gives to being a rocker suggests that one can be the former without necessarily being the latter. But can one be a ‘roller’ without first being a ‘rocker’? The question is not answered in the song.

‘Down at the juke joint me and the boys were stompin’,
Bippin’ an a boppin’, telling a dirty joke or two.’

Here it is stated that a ‘rocker’ will ‘bip’, ‘bop’, and ‘tell a dirty joke’. Or two. Presumably one can tell a dirty joke without being a rocker, but are ‘bipping’ and ‘bopping’ exclusively ‘rocker’ activities? Can a ‘roller’ who is not a ‘rocker’ (if they exist) also ‘bip’ and ‘bop’? Again, a pertinent issue is not explored.

‘In walked this chick and I knew she was up to something,
I kissed her right there out of the blue.’

The ‘rocker’ considers a sexual assault acceptable if a woman appears to him to be ‘up to something’. No further comment is needed here, I feel.

‘I said “Hey baby, meet me I’m a tough guy,
Got my cycle outside, you wanna try?”‘

The ‘rocker’ has only a very basic grasp of English, it seems.

‘She just looked at me and rolled them big eyes,
And said “Ooh I’d do anything for you ’cause you’re a rocker.”‘

Here it is evident that the ‘rocker’ is a fantasist, believing that his victims are willing participants in their degradation.

In summary, the ‘rocker’ can be seen to be violent, even towards children, and sexually aggressive, with a questionable grasp on reality. Also, there is a propensity to ‘bip’, ‘bop’ and ‘tell dirty jokes’.

‘Rollers’ remain undefined, but are rumoured to be marked by their desire to ‘shang a lang’. Further investigation is required in determining the nature of the ‘lang’ and how one would go about ‘shanging’ it. Any offers of help with funding for this research are greatly appreciated.


3 Responses to “The Rocker”

  1. It is a well known fact that the definitive “I’m a Rocker” clip appeared on NTNOCN, with The Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley lip synching.

    Sadly I couldn’t track it down.

  2. Just seen this, and being a major Lizzy fan, felt the desire to inform you that the lyrics for The Rocker were deliberately rather tongue in cheek. Mocking the stereotype, as it were. If you get the chance, listen to, say, Little Girl in Bloom for something a little more delicate.

    PS Hound Dog is excellent.

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