It’s well-known that Andy Partridge of XTC exhibits one of the severest instances of stage fright in popular music; therefore it follows that only a small percentage of their fans have ever seen the seminal postpunk act perform live. Perhaps it was this fact that made my recent discovery of a video for their song “Statue of Liberty” all the more striking. The song is off XTC’s first full-length album White Music (I always thought that that album title was more suited to Talking Heads, but XTC beat them to it.)
In the video Partridge sings of his crush on the great green symbol of untrammeled freedom: “You must have been all of a thousand feet tall / Nearly naked, unashamed like Herod’s daughter.” Later, he owns up to his envy of all the boats that get to sidle up to the Lady: “A little jealous of the ships with whom you flirt / A billion lovers with their cameras / Snap to look and in my fantasy / I sail beneath your skirt.” This first single off of White Music was banned by the BBC for its purportedly lewd references to the famous statue.
The video was released on XTC’s Look Look video compilation. Partridge somewhat ridiculously warbles into a microphone perched atop Lady Liberty’s torch. As the song comes to a close, Colin Moulding decides to scrape his bass guitar all over Barry Andrews’ keyboard setup; Andrews then joyously goose-steps the keyboard around the room while the video fades out.
Eight years later, on Skylarking, Partridge would flip this fantasy around somewhat in “That’s Really Super, Supergirl,” contemplating his frustrated weakness in comparison to a dream girl who’s always “on a mission saving some other man.”
It’s such a peppy number, the video can’t fail to be amusing; that they would eventually cease live performances altogether makes it that much more intriguing.