When Blister in the Sun was first released in 1983, there were no music video. In fact, there weren’t many listeners. While the song was an immediate hit on college radio, it wasn’t until the late 80s and the 1990s, when all of those people who worked at the college stations got jobs programming “alternative” and “modern rock” stations, that Blister in the Sun really became a radio mainstay.
It wasn’t until John Cusack decided that he wanted to use the song in Grosse Pointe Blank that Blister in the Sun finally got a music video. The video combines clips of John Cusack and Alan Arkin from the film with a totally new story involving the lead singer of Violent Femmes, Gordon Gano, attempting to assassinate Socks the Cat. Socks was the White House pet during the Clinton years and it says something about the difference between 1997 and 2019 that this video could be made at all. At the end of the video, Gano is arrested in a theater showing Grosse Pointe Blank, in much the same way that Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in a theater that was showing War Is Hell.
As for the song’s lyrics, Gano has said that they were about drug abuse and not, as many listeners speculated, masturbation. The famous “Big Hands” line was a reference to Gano’s insecurity about his small hands and his fear that his girlfriend would leave him for someone who had bigger hands. As Gano once told the Village Voice, “I don’t think there’s a whole lot to understand with the lyrics.”