Dry is the 1992 debut album by PJ Harvey. It is widely received positive acclaim among critics and quickly became a cult hit in the Alternative Rock circuit, thanks to hit singles like "Dress" and "Sheela-Na-Gig".
Kurt Cobain placed it at #16 in his personal list of his 50 favorite albums of all time.
- "Oh My Lover" (3:57)
- "O Stella" (2:36)
- "Dress" (3:16)
- "Victory" (3:16)
- "Happy and Bleeding" (4:50)
- "Sheela-Na-Gig" (3:11)
- "Hair" (3:45)
- "Joe" (2:33)
- "Plants and Rags" (4:09)
- "Fountain" (3:52)
- "Water" (4:32)
Gonna take my tropes to anyone who cares:
- Added Alliterative Appeal:Look at these my ruby-red ruby lips
- As the Good Book Says...:
She burst, dropped offPicked the fruit and realize I'm naked tooSo cover my body
- "Heaven" refers to Adam and Eve.
Angel at my table, God in my car
Walking on water for years
Samson the strength that's in your armsOh, to be your stunning brideSamson, your hair glistening(...) He said: "Wait, Delilah, my babe"You lied in my face, you cut off my hair, you lied in my bed
- "Hair" refers to Samson and Delilah.
O stella maris, you're my star
- "O Stella" namedrops "Stella Maris", which is Latin for "Star of the Sea" and refers to the Virgin Mary.
- Break-Up Song: "Sheela-na-Gig"Better wash that man right out of my hairJust like the first time, said you didn't careGonna take my hips to a man who cares
- But Now I Must Go: Which may be a Break Up Song, but the lyrics are too vague for that.He's my big manStays with me, some forty daysNo wordsThen goes awayI cry again
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music video for "Dress" was so low-budget that it had to be shot in black-and-white and had to repeat several scenes and play them backwards.
- Dirty Old Woman: The "Sheela-Na-Gig" statues referred to in the song.
- Face on the Cover: An extreme close-up of P.J.'s lips and chin.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
(...) I called the album "Dry" because it's a simple, minimal word, and more powerful because of it. It's a word of needing something else, and a lot of songs are about that. And I think it's funny to sing about dry vaginas.
- The album title sounds innocent, but as P.J. explained herself in an interview with "Puncture" magazine:
What I like about it is that she's laughing and ripping herself apart. Humour and horrificness.
- "Sheela-na-Gig" refers to a Celtic stone carving, originally from Irish origin, of a female crouching down, holding her vagina open and laughing insanely. Most listeners and radio deejays probably had no clue what she was referring too. Harvey herself commented:
- Hemo Erotic: "Happy And Bleeding"I'm happy and bleeding for you
- Limited Lyrics Song: "Hair" and "Plants And Rags".
- Mundane Made Awesome:
The dress is filthyAnd my arms are emptyClear the way, better get it out of this roomA fallen woman in dancing costume
- "Dress", a tongue-in-cheek song about dressing up to go out.
- "Plants & Rags" was inspired by a photography book with a double-page spread showing extreme images on each page, like light and dark.
- Naked People Are Funny: "Sheela-na-Gig"Sheela-na-Gig, Sheela-na-GigYou exhibitionist!
- One-Man Song: "Joe".
- One-Woman Song: "O Stella"
- One-Word Title: "Dry". The tracks "Dress", "Victory", "Hair", "Fountain" and "Water".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Joe" is about P.J.'s then partner, but they didn't stay together.Joe, ain't you my buddy thee?Stay with me, when I fall and dieAlways thought you'd come rushing inTo clear the shit out of my eye
- Record Producer: Mark Vernon, Rob Ellis and P.J. Harvey.
- Reference Overdosed: "Sheela-Na-Gig" refers to a specific erotic Celtic statue, but the explanation behind the line "put money in your idle hole" is really obscure. It refers to a theory that the language of the medieval witch-cult was Basque and the term "sheela-na-gig" actually derives from the Basque "Chilo-nagi" ("the idle hole").
- Refrain from Assuming: P.J. Harvey's song "Dry" ("you leave me dry") is not from this album, but the follow-up: Rid of Me.
- Say My Name: "Oh My Lover"Oh my lover, why don't you just say my name and all of it is alright!
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "Victory" and "Sheela-Na-Gig" have P.J. doing this.
- Shout Out:
- "Sheela-na-gig" refers to breasts as "dirty pillows", a confirmed reference to Carrie, where the prudent Christian fundamentalist mother also uses this oud-dated term to describe that particular part of female anatomy. The line "gonna wash that man right outta my hair" is a line from South Pacific (1958).
- Slut-Shaming: "Sheela-na-Gig" is about being slut-shamed by a would-be suitor.
- Stock Rhymes: "Sheela-na-Gig" has the word "ruby-red lips" rhyme with "hips".
- Their First Time: "Happy And Bleeding" strongly implies a woman losing her virginity.I'm happy and I'm bleeding for you
- Uncommon Time: "Water" is effectively a march in 5/4.
- Unrequited Love: The protagonist in "Oh My Lover" goes to extreme lengths to make the man of her desire love her:You can love her, you can love me at the same time