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I Better Be Good (Zipper Catches Skin, 1982)

“I Better Be Good” Lyrics:

If I ain’t cool, my daddy gonna send me to Military School
If I ain’t nice, my girlie gonna freeze me with cold shoulder ice
If I’m real late, my teacher gonna use me for alligator bait
So, I better be good
I better be good

If I jump on the gas, the cops are gonna jump all over my back
If I smoke too much doctor says he’s gonna put my lungs in a crutch
If I’m caught without my pants, Consuelo’s dad is gonna shoot until he sees me dance

So, I better be good
I had better be good
You better be nice
You better be nice
You better be nice
You better be nice
Nice, nice, nice – you better be
Nice, nice, nice – you better be
Nice, nice, nice – Uh, uh, uh, uh
Nice, nice, nice

Na na na na na ni na ni nice
Na na na na na ni na ni nice
You better be nice tonight

If I spray it on the seat, lady gonna tie a big knot in the meat
If I spewey too fast, lover’s gonna stick my Wrangler in a cast
If zipper grabs skin, I’ll know I had it out when I shoulda kept it in
Ow.

I better be good
I better be good
I better be good
Ooh.

You better be nice
You better be nice
You better be nice
You better be nice
Nice, nice, nice – you better be
Nice, nice, nice – you better be
Nice, nice, nice – Uh, uh, uh, uh
Nice, nice, nice

I’d better be nice tonight – yeah
Nice, nice, nice
Nice
Nice, nice, nice
Nice, nice, nice

Na na na na na ni na ni nice
Na na na na na ni na ni nice
(repeat to fade)

Zipper Catches Skin, released in 1982, is Alice Cooper’s seventh solo studio album and is identified as one of the Blackout LPs. Alice proclaims the record carries with it a “minimalist” sound and approach. Cooper, along with Erik Scott (bass), John Nitzinger (guitar), and Dick Wagner (guitar), share the writing credits on most of the songs on this record.

The album cover features the song lyrics in tiny black lettering. Specific letters are colored red across the top of the album, spelling out “Alice Cooper,” and the LP title, Zipper Catches Skin, also appears in red lettering a few lines beneath Alice’s name. A streak of actual blood, provided by Brian Nelson (Alice’s personal assistant/archivist), was used to underline the record title.

The album has no fundamental concept or theme. However, Alice did draw inspiration from an interesting source.

“That whole album, I took a Weekly World News and just found headlines. Like every single song title was from a headline from the Weekly World News and the funny things about those is that once you create the headline, there’s a rhythm to it.” – Alice Cooper

After seeing what Alice had to say about the creative process for the LP, the artwork for the album makes perfect sense. It’s as if the cover is a newspaper, and the lyrics are the written content in the articles and stories.

NOTE: I enjoy the Blackout LPs. They brought raw emotion and an exciting approach to Alice’s style and music, yet they managed to keep that “Cooperesque” vibe.

I Better Be Good,” the second to last song on the LP, is a quippy tune about the cause and effect relationship between bad behavior and consequence. Alice weighs in on the drawbacks of annoying others and offending them – a lesson in etiquette and protocol.

If I ain’t cool, my daddy gonna send me to Military School
If I ain’t nice, my girlie gonna freeze me with cold shoulder ice
If I’m real late, my teacher gonna use me for alligator bait

So, I better be good
I better be good

If I jump on the gas, the cops are gonna jump all over my back
If I smoke too much doctor says he’s gonna put my lungs in a crutch
If I’m caught without my pants, Consuelo’s dad is gonna shoot until he sees me dance

So, I better be good
I had better be good
You better be nice

As the song unfolds, it becomes apparent that the song’s main character is less concerned about being good and more concerned about getting caught or the ramifications of his actions. But maybe he is missing the point? Is it really about being good?

Maybe it’s not so much about what you do or how you do it but more about the state of your heart, your mind, and your soul. Maybe it’s more about motive.

“We can make our own plans,
    but the Lord gives the right answer.

2 People may be pure in their own eyes,
    but the Lord examines their motives.

3 Commit your actions to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:1-3

Isn’t it interesting how God’s Word offers simple advice? Common sense and straightforward answers to life’s dilemmas and demands. When it comes to being good, it’s not about the ramifications of the action. It’s about motivation and commitment. It boils down to the heart of the matter – the motives of your heart and your soul.

When we commit ourselves to HIS plans, we find success. We discover a narrow road with a solid destination. Making plans without His consent more often than not leads to foolishness and demise. We plan to be good then end up trapped by pride, lust, greed, etc.

In that trap, we find ourselves believing we are the catalyst for change and prosperity. We begin to think we know better than our Creator – or worse, we see ourselves as deities.

This life requires us to rely on Him instead of ourselves. It’s about consciously knowing that we are neither good nor evil. Instead, we choose which force and narrative direct us. Which do we choose? The way of the world or the path of our Creator?

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

As we begin to walk with Him, learning from His Spirit and His Word, we begin to notice the alignment of all things GOOD and HOLY. We begin to see Him. We want to know Him more – we want to be good, acceptable, and perfect.

As His Spirit and His Word renew our minds, we begin to see things differently – more clearly. “I Better Be Good” transforms into “I Want To Be Good.” We become new creatures – ambassadors for Christ. We crave reconciliation and righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

Wrapping this up, by committing our goals, actions, and plans to Him, we find that our lives are not our own (Jeremiah 10:23-24). The world sees our deeds as fleeting and sacrificial, but we know better. We know that prosperity comes from Him and a life lived with Him (Psalm 1:1-3).

The bottom line is this if you want to know more about a piece of artwork, you go to the artist. In turn, we, as God’s creation, learn more about ourselves and our journey by going to Him – enjoying His presence and consulting Him on our path. On that note, C.S. Lewis does a wonderful job conveying this point:

This act [creation], as it is for God, must always remain totally inconceivable to man. For we–even our poets and musicians and inventors–never, in the ultimate sense, make. We only build. We always have materials to build from. All we can know about the act of creation must be derived from what we can gather about the relation of the creatures to their Creator. – C.S. Lewis

In conclusion, Zipper Catches Skin was written and released during a difficult time in Alice’s life. It was a time of change and transition – a time when music was regularly changing. It was a time that Alice doesn’t remember – a blackout.

However, God’s Light shines brightest in the dark. If and when we are willing to embrace it, miracles happen. Lucky for Alice (and all of us), our Creator is a loving Father that believes in redemption and offers us grace and salvation – even when it seems there is no hope and any chance for restoration is lost.

That’s it for this week. See you next Friday!

Until then, Keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice!

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"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay.  I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"

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