The rock world's favorite organ? Some say it was made by Hammond, but we nominate the muscular organ inside your mouth that facilitates speaking, singing, tasting and kissing: the essential, indispensable tongue. Rock tastemakers have long paid tribute to the lingual arts: Talking Heads were Speaking in Tongues, for example, while the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sang about a "Black Tongue" and Bob Dylan testified that "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue." Here are 10 of the all-time greatest tongue twisters.
One of the many ways Hendrix reinvented playing the electric guitar: he used his tongue. (Happily, not at the same time he used lighter fluid.)
"I was just trying to sing like a girl," Michael Stipe said of this Monster track (a hit single in the U.K.). The ballad, heavy on piano and falsetto, is written from a female point of view: the unhappy complaint of a girl who feels like an unattractive "last-ditch lay." The tongue, as always, is the locus of both sex and power. Contrasting with those sad lyrics was the mirror ball that accompanied the song during R.E.M. concerts — not to mention the onstage brain aneurysm during this song that sent drummer Bill Berry to a Switzerland hospital in 1995.
When the most rock & roll basketball player ever posed for his Rolling Stone cover in 1996, photographer Albert Watson captured him with hair dyed red, devil horns and a protruding tongue that appeared about twice the size of his actual organ. We can't rule out the possibility that this tongue was the primary topic of conversation between Rodman and Kim Jong Un when the Worm visited North Korea.
You thought Dennis Rodman had achieved maximum tonguosity? The cover for Poison's second album, certified quintuple platinum, featured model "Bambi." In her portrait, she was rendered with enormous hair, tiger stripes, claws, a nose ring, and a tongue, that like a Nathan's hot dog, was a foot long.
The frontman for Aerosmith not only shares his tongue with the world, he's made that tongue famous by singing about it, over and over, usually pornographically. For example, "F.I.N.E.": "I shove my tongue right between your cheeks." In "Taste of India": "The sweet taste of India lingers on the tip of my tongue." (In case you weren't sure, "India" is a girl.) And best of all, "Back in the Saddle": "The girls are soaking wet/No tongue's drier than mine."
We love vinyl records. But apparently we don't love them quite as much as Debbie Harry.
Genius cult rapper Danny Brown (XXX, Old) doesn't just let his tongue hang out of his mouth like it needs extra oxygen, he frequently raps about it: sometimes as a drug-delivery mechanism ("Molly on My Tongue"), sometimes as the star of X-rated lyrics about cunnilingus: "I go dumb and ignorant when I'm on that clitoris/Lick your ass delirious/My tongue game so damn serious."
"The design concept for the Tongue was to represent the band's anti-authoritarian attitude, Mick's mouth and the obvious sexual connotations," said designer John Pasche, who started working with the Stones when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art. (Because the logo debuted in the Sticky Fingers album, many people incorrectly believed that cover designer Andy Warhol came up with it.) Pasche said the logo took him a week to finish — for his work, the Rolling Stones paid him a total of 250 pounds sterling.
Miley Cyrus' tongue seems to spend more time outside her mouth than inside it, whether she's necking with other people in public or licking a sledgehammer in the "Wrecking Ball" video. In a manner that splits the difference between mischievous kid and sexy adult, Cyrus perpetually reminds us that her tongue is in full working order. But she told Rolling Stone that her tongue-extruding habit originated from not wanting to grin in photographs. "I just stick my tongue out because I hate smiling in pictures. It's so awkward. It looks so cheesy. Now people expect it, like, 'Put your tongue out!'"
Kiss' God of Thunder was so well-endowed in the mouth region, the popular rumor in the Seventies was that he had grafted a cow tongue onto his own to give him some extra length. (Not true, alas.) Simmons says that he didn't realize his tongue was extra-long until he was 13 years old, at which point he discovered that it was an asset with girls. Asked by Rolling Stone how he rated Cyrus' tongue prowess, he said begrudgingly, "It was OK. But that was a girl's version. It's like girls' basketball. It's as good as girls get at basketball. But you can't play with the guys."