“If you do not take the vow
You can eat the sacred cow
You’ll get karma anyhow”
Taken from the album The Martyr Mantras
The “Small Portion 2 B Polite” mix of ‘Bow Down Mister’ from The Best Of Boy George And Culture Club… At Worst was a fascinating record for me when I was growing up. What a strange combination – Hindu preaching set to a traditional-sounding Indian instrumental, sung by a gay popstar recovering from a highly-publicised heroin addiction, mixed in with house beats. Oh, and there’s a long breakdown which features a constant chant of “raise your hands, lift your hands to the Lord”. It’s safe to say this is not ‘Karma Chameleon’, but I mean that in a good way.
The lyrics are very simple and make more sense in the song than they do on paper, but I love that verse about eating the cow. It’s a bit of a “yeah!” moment because I’m a vegetarian, but I’m also not a Hare Krishna, so I guess I’ll be getting karma some other way. Boy George was at a bit of a crossroads in the late eighties: continue being a popstar with diminishing returns on the charts, or go down the dance route, and he chose dance, mixed with guitar-y weirdness like ‘Bow Down Mister’ and ‘Sweet Toxic Love’. It may not have been successful commercially, but artistically the era brought us some of his best work.
Mixing his religious exploration with pop music like he did on 1984’s ‘The Medal Song’, Boy George goes against all expectations with ‘Bow Down Mister’ – what other eighties icon would be making such adventurous music, and challenging themselves, this long after the initial hype had died down? Songs like this are why I refuse to accept George as an artist tied to one decade – he may have made his biggest impact with Culture Club, but as long as his voice and skills as a writer stay strong, so will his material.