Thursday, August 04, 2011

How Play That Funky Music Became The National Anthem

You're stupid. You think, maybe, YMCA by the Village People is the National Anthem. Pshaw. Amyl nitrate is off the menu for you from now on, you hear?

Spare me Margaritaville, or Brown-eyed Girl. Non-starters. No, it's got to be the official song of every damn thing. It's got to be playing in the stadium, the second scene of the coming-of-age B movie, in the men's room, in the lady's room, there has to be a steel drum version of it being played by the pool, and it's got to be on the television and the jukebox in the lounge while being butchered by the wedding band in the function room next door all at the same time. You've got to hear it in an elevator in a Guatemalan parking garage and on an iPod in the space shuttle. It's got to be seeping out of the world's pores.

Hey, you meatheads at the football games wearing mesh pajama tops with another man's name on them and plumber's-crack low-rise jeans, hooting along with Gary Glitter:


Eight-year-olds, dude. Eight-year-olds. That's not it.

No, it's Wild Cherry that's got copyright on the National Anthem now. And I was there. I know how it happened.

It used to be that other song, the NatAnth was, that everybody sung just before Gary Glitter started up at the football game. The song no one can or will sing properly. The one that makes the guys already on the outside of five beers say, "Get it? Jose, can you see? See, it's funny. I'm funny."

That one. The one that has 1156 notes and syllables if you're white, and 12,564 syllables and 154,652 melisma-smeared notes if you're black. Yeah, that one. That song sucks. It's still better than the Canadian one at the hockey game.

Ohhhh, Can-A-Duhhhh!... umm, er..

Help me out here, what comes next? Something about bacon cut funny and trees or some other thing about clubbing seals or not clubbing seals or maple syrup or Tim Horton's or the War of 1812.

We needed a new one. One that made sense. One that explained life in America. One sung by white people parlaying mockery from black people into a method of getting a leg up on Soul Train chicks.

It was 1976. I had a complexion like the Sea of Tranquility and no hope. Jimmeh Carter bestrode the world like a colossal colostomy bag. Rock had killed pop and then turned the gun on itself. Disco sucked, it's true; just less than everything else. I was sprung from high school and trying desperately to pull down a mildly tubby chick's tube top like the window shade in a crummy summer rental in West Dennis. The living room of the house was four decades past respectability, festooned with daisy chains of pull tabs from cheap beers, the other dude was banging away on the other side of the wall with reckless abandon and the willowy chick, his Roadrunner parked on the four strands of grass that was the lawn, and me with the doughy leftover with the turdcurl hair and the shelf out front. A hopeless situation, really. Then it came out of the radio.

Once I was a boogie singer...
Playin' in a rock 'n roll band...

And she went from the last popsicle in the freezer to Krakatoa in half a verse. Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus got nothing on me. I had seen the light.

11. And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called moderately Funky, and enquire in the steakhouse of Jew-fro for [one] called Wild Cherry, of Ohio: for, behold, he solos on a Les Paul,
12. And hath seen in a vision a chick with a tube top coming down, and putting [his] hand on her, that he might receive his jollies without a slap this time and having to spring for four sloe gin fizzes.

And it was good.


John Lien said...

(steps up to front of the room)

Um, My name is John. (group says, "Hi John") And, and, I grew up in the 70s (brushes back tear). The memories, they, they won't go away. Please make the 70s go away..... (commences uncontrollable sobbing)

SamArtDog said...

Great. I'm in the middle of doing something totally worthwhile in the studio and go to fetch some paper from under the lapdog -- er, laptop. While I'm there, I check incomings. There it is... Wild Cherry.

Now I need three big tokes of oxygen and a shower.
You kill me.

teresa said...

Turd curl hair. Jimmeh astride the country like a giant colostomy bag. I'm gasping for breath here.

You are very bad Mr. Sippican, but we like you over at our house.

BrettonPoint said...

Ahhh tube tops in W Dennis on a summers night. I can almost smell the fried clams and a fridge full of ice cold Gansett GIQ's .Then waking up the next morning on the beach with a small man inside my head trying to beat his way out with a hammer. Then turning my head to see my once lovely sleeping partner as the tide rolls in and over us. Yup, thanks for that nasty memory Sip!!

Sixty Grit said...

I am thankful that I grew up in the 60s, and by the 70s I was married and sober. Very thankful indeed.

vanderleun said...

WHENEVER I read tender confessions like this that wonderful tune from Cats, Memories, starts to play in my head.

H. Gillham said...

I love Play that Funky Music!

Your memory cracked me up.

I think I put this same video on my blog a couple of months ago in relation to something....

but .. I forgot.

BTW: I'm excited for your book! Congratulations!!!

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Harriet- Thanks much. I do not know if you're the most pleasant person that visits this website. It wouldn't be a bad bet to make, though.

Cletus Socrates said...

Class o' 7611111
Enjoyed the book, and the concept, by the by.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Cletus- Thanks muchly.

Anonymous said...

So THAT'S what it took to set 'em off. And to think of the outcome if I had replaced that cassette my Akai ate.



Anonymous said...

I remember a similar experience back in 1976, as a teenager growing up in Beirut. I was trying to get a burqa off one of my cousins when suddenly over the radio I heard

Now once I was a blind Quran reader
Preaching to a Hezbollah band
I never had no problems
Chopping off the thieving hands
But then the civil strife around me
Got to be a moving so fast
So then I reacted quickly (Yes I did)
And Quran down to check out the blast

Yeah, they were shrieking and howling
And wailin to no availin
And just as it hit me, somebody turmed to me and shouted

Pray that funqi Surah RIGHT!
Pray that funqi Surah blind boy
Lay down and prostrate and
Pray that funqi Surah till you die

Anonymous said...

BTW Sip, you've just been "Len rolled" by Callmelennie. Vanderleun can tell you all about it

Call me Lennie