If Love is a Red Dress, Hang me in Rags - Maria McKee
We were talking about Quentin Tarantino making films just so he could put his favourite songs on the soundtrack, but the exception is this, the only song he commissioned just for "Pulp Fiction". A counterpoint to the innocence that has gone before, "If Love is a Red Dress, Hang me in Rags" is a song about mornings after, when the drudgery of life kicks in,
The cold sparse electric guitar has the feel of Oklahoma thirties depression, emphasised further by the folkie intro whistling and McKee's country style vocal. You can almost hear the wind blowing across the dried up southern fields, in this case the drought that life has made of their fertile love:
What is great about this song is the bleak picture of what their love has become, and how everything good can have its downside:
These ties that bind us Can't beat these chains
mixed with all too common realities
The morning after No one should brag
and the way she compares their relationship to a game of poker
If we played even I'd be your queen But someone was cheatin' And it wasn't me I played on the table You held something back If love is aces, gimme the jack.
McKee pours on the rhetoric, the metaphors coming as thick and fast as low clouds on a stormy hillside. Smokey Robinson would have been proud of this, especially the stark images of her choice to reject the love itself, as much as the man, a subtle distinction, steeped in bitter disillusion. The title is a stark rejection of romance, almost as tough as the really killing line:
If love is shelter I'm gonna walk in the rain
which resonates and resonates the more you listen to it, like the month of endless spring drizzle that ruins the crops.