X

The Once Over Twice

Composed by Exene Cervenka / John Doe

Song Review by

With this song, X opened their finest album and announced that, only two records into a relatively long career, they had come of age. All the familiar elements are there -- the foundation of rockabilly guitar, Exene Cervenka’s laconic lead voice, the astringent harmonies that kick in on the chorus, the dour sexual politics -- but they have gelled in a way that they never quite did on Los Angeles, X’s debut album of the previous year. ”Once Over Twice” is not the strongest song on this album, but it’s a powerful opening gesture. Its weakness is in the lyrics, which unfortunately foreshadow some of the more self-indulgent poetry that Cervenka would produce later in her solo career. However correct her feminist instincts, lines like “I could throw my lipstick & bracelets like gravel and move to Alabama” and “He hung me with the endless rope” don’t amount to much more than pretentious high school noodlings. But when she and Doe sing those lines together in their inimitable raw harmony, the effect is electric. It’s worth pointing out here that, contrary to the standard critical assessment of the time, Cervenka was not singing out of tune. She and Doe sang in modal harmony, with lots of very open intervals, in a style that would be familiar to anyone who has listened to much traditional Appalachian music. ”Once Over Twice” is practically a master class in that style of harmony singing.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Wild Gift 1981
X
Slash 2:31
Los Angeles/Wild Gift 1988
X
Slash 2:31
Live at the Whisky a Go-Go 1988
X
Elektra / Rhino 2:35
Beyond & Back: The X Anthology 1997
X
Elektra 2:51
The Best: Make the Music Go Bang 2004
X
Rhino / Elektra 2:31
Original Album Series
X
Rhino / Warner Bros.
blue highlight denotes editor's pick