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Pernice Brothers stalk a beautiful bookworm in “Jacqueline Susann”

Pernice Brothers

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re running down some of our favorite songs with a name in the title.

Pernice Brothers, “Jacqueline Susann” (2010)

Obsession with a complete stranger is tricky to commit to paper without sounding like a stalker, so Joe Pernice, the clever songwriter behind Boston’s Pernice Brothers, at least deserves some credit for his lack of artifice. In “Jacqueline Susann,” the speaker longs for a literate beauty on public transit who’s pulling his strings simply by minding her own business: “Sucking on a frozen latte / May as well just suck my blood.” He wants to “gum up her plans” and “make her late for her Foucault convention,” but he can’t summon the courage to speak to her, so he settles for watching her from afar as she reads, drinks her coffee, and rides the escalator.


Songs named after women are typically about the women who inspired their titles. “Jacqueline Susann” is named after the Valley Of The Dolls author, who, along with poet Ford Madox Ford, commands the attention of the speaker’s distant crush in a way he may never be able to. Pernice’s lyrics alternate between cute and creepy. Who among us hasn’t pined for a fellow transit passenger and tried to glean information about them from the props they carry? The speaker in “Jacqueline Susann” isn’t afraid to admit he’s infatuated with a woman he’s barely made contact with. In this case, the name in the title is a placeholder until the lonely passenger musters the nerve to ask how she’s enjoying the book.

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