Cheap Trick

He's a Whore

Composed by Rick Nielsen

Song Review by

Although Cheap Trick is known by many as an upbeat, power pop group (“I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” etc.), the group’s oft-overlooked, yet classic self-titled 1977 debut touched upon many dark topics, such as suicide (“Oh Candy”), pedophilia (“Daddy Should Have Stayed In School”), and a mass murderer (“The Ballad of TV Violence”). But each of the aforementioned songs contained lyrics that didn’t give away their true meanings immediately, unlike another track, “He’s A Whore,” which is one of the debut’s more straightforward compositions, both lyrically and musically. The song is easily one of Cheap Trick’s most punk-based and energetic (clocking in at under three minutes in length), as it opens with bassist Tom Petersson and guitarist Rick Nielsen bashing out a simple, descending single note pattern on their respective instruments. Penned entirely by Nielsen, the guitarist started with just the song’s title, which interested and inspired him so much that he was then able to build an entire song from scratch around it. In the fine Cheap Trick biography, ‘Reputation is a Fragile Thing’ (by Mike Hayes and Ken Sharp), Nielsen described how the song isn’t solely about sex – “Whoring means so many different things, it doesn’t just mean having sex, but someone who does anything for money.” But the song does hint that its central character focuses in on a woman who isn’t much on looks but is indeed wealthy, as evidenced by such lines as, “Have you seen her face, she's got a face that would stop a clock, and with that face I surely won't stop, to look her in the eyes, but her money's green,” and “I think I'll take her for a ride, with this moneybag by my side.” And elsewhere in the aforementioned book, Nielsen dug a bit deeper, by saying, “’He’s A Whore’ refers to all sorts of things, radio stations, people doing things for money – people are whores for money” (which singer Robin Zander points out clearly towards the end of the song, where he declares “I’m a Whore, I’ll do anything for money”). Although the song’s over the top energy and in your face subject matter would seem tailor made for the concert stage, the song never truly became a live standard for the group, although they have been known to play it more often during the late ‘90s/early 21st century (as they handed in a fine version on the HBO concert series, Reverb, in 1998). Ten years after the song’s original release, “He’s A Whore” was deconstructed and covered by Steve Albini’s first group, Big Black (first as a b-side for the song “The Model,” but later included as a bonus track on the CD reissue of 1987’s Songs About Fucking).

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Cheap Trick [1977] 1977 Epic 2:43
Cheap Trick/In Color/Heaven Tonight 1995 Legacy 2:43
The Essential Cheap Trick 2004 Sony Music Distribution
Playlist: The Very Best of Cheap Trick 2009 Sony Music
Essential 3.0 2010 Epic / Legacy / Sony Legacy 2:44
The  Music of Cheap Trick 2010 Epic / Legacy 2:44
The Box Set Series 2014 Legacy / Sony Music 2:44
Raising Hell: The 1970s FM Concert Broadcasts / Refractor Records 2:58
blue highlight denotes editor's pick