Track of the Day: 'Start Me Up' by The Folksmen

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader whose first name is Jagger fittingly flags a Rolling Stones classic:

As far as cover songs go, one that always impressed me was “Start Me Up” by The Folksmen (one of the “fake” groups from the movie A Mighty Wind). Somehow it manages to be transgressive while playing it straight. Plus, I realized I never knew what the lyrics were until hearing this version!

Those sultry, unsubtle lyrics below:

If you start me up
If you start me up I'll never stop
You can start me up
You can start me up I'll never stop
I've been running hot
You got me ticking going to blow my top
If you start me up
If you start me up I'll never stop
Never stop, never stop, never stop
You make a grown man cry
Spread out the oil, the gasoline
I walk smooth, ride in a mean, mean machine
Start it up
If you start it up
Kick on the starter give it all you got, you got, you got
I can't compete with the riders in the other heats
If you rough it up
If you like it you can slide it up
Slide it up, slide it up, slide it up
Don't make a grown man cry
My eyes dilate, my lips go green
My hands are greasy
She's a mean, mean machine
Start it up
If start me up
Ahh... give it all you got
You got to never, never, never stop
Slide it up, baby just slide it up
Slide it up, slide it up, never, never, never
You make a grown man cry
Ride like the wind at double speed
I'll take you places that you've never, never seen
If you start it up
Love the day when we will never stop, never stop
Never, never, never stop
Tough me up
Never stop, never stop

[Outro]
You, you, you make a grown man cry
You, you make a dead man come
You, you make a dead man come

As Genius notes regarding that last lyric, “Somehow it slipped on to the radio in the UK.”

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