Flaming Lips' Coyne Talks State Song Flap, Singing About Orgasms for Madonna Cover

April 27, 2009 2:03 PM ET

Oklahoma will finally name the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" the Official State Rock & Roll Song at a ceremony tomorrow afternoon in the psych-rock group's home state, where Govenor Brad Henry will sign an executive order confirming the selection. This follows a controversial few days for the band: the Oklahoma House of Representative sought to overrule the Senate's unanimous vote when the group's Michael Ivins showed up to the Capitol last month wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Communist imagery of a sickle and hammer. Lips frontman Wayne Coyne insists the whole thing was blown out of proportion and Ivins did not have any subversive intentions.

"I think it points out the petty desperation that some minority of religious wackos are trying to make it seem like [we have a communist] agenda, which we don't," Coyne tells Rock Daily. "Honestly, it's just a dumb shirt. We're not Communists." Still, Coyne is thrilled about receiving the honor. "There was this feeling that when 'Do You Realize??' was named the state song last month, people thought, 'I didn't think Oklahoma was that cool of a place!" says Coyne. "And I thought that was a pretty cool thing. I don't want people to think Oklahoma is a bunch of hillbillies."

In other Lips news, the group recently put out a mind-blowing music video for their stunning cover of Madonna's "Borderline," which the crew recorded this year to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Warner Bros., home to Madonna and the Lips. (The song was also released on a limited-edition seven-inch record for Record Store Day — watch the video above.) The Lips teamed up with Coyne's nephew's band, Stardeath and White Dwarfs (also signed to Warner), and filmed the psychedelic, visual-effects-heavy clip in the band's warehouse space in Oklahoma.

The group originally intended to cover Prince's "Purple Rain," but were rebuffed when they discovered His Purpleness doesn't allow artists to cover his tracks. "Our next idea was to do this Madonna song because we were in this Eighties mode," Coyne says. But Coyne admits he was embarrassed a bit when Lips producer Dave Fridmann egged him into an interpretation of the song's meaning. "I think she's singing about orgasms," says Coyne. "You know, she's talking about reaching the borderline and whoever this man is, he's trying to make her orgasm and gets her right close but then isn't able to do it. Everyone I talk to didn't know that! And then I realized how ridiculous it is for a 40-year-old man to be singing about orgasms."

The Flaming Lips are currently cutting their highly-anticipated follow-up to 2006's At War With the Mystics with Fridmann, which Coyne hopes to release sometime this spring or summer (read more about it in our Spring Music Preview). "We're about nine songs into what we're trying to make a double album," says Coyne. "Next week we're trying to finish up the rest of the 17 songs."

Related Stories:

Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize??" Voted Official Oklahoma Rock Song
Flaming Lips Give Earth Day on the Mall an Otherworldly Spin in Washington, DC
Okies From Outer Space

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

More Song Stories entries »