Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mudhoney -- "Into Yer Shtik" (1995)

You're so hounded . . . ungrounded . . . surrounded
By scum-sucking leeches who will shovel your sh*t

Hey guys, don't hold back on our account -- tell us what you really think.

Mudhoney is usually described as the first grunge band. (One of the band's members is credited with first using the term to describe this style of music.) I'm not sure if this is really a grunge song -- for one thing, it wasn't released until about a year after Kurt Cobain's death, after grunge's popularity had peaked.

Mudhoney got its name from a 1965 Russ Meyer movie, the poster for which featured this line: "Passion debased by lust . . . leaves a taste of evil." Here's how one cinephile summarized its plot:

It's 1933, in the midst of the Depression and Prohibition. Calif, a stranger with a past walks into Spooner, Missouri on his way from Michigan to California. He hires on with Lute Wade to earn some travelling money, but gets entangled in a bad family situation: Lute's daughter is married to Sidney, a good-for-nothing drunk that frequents the rural equivalent of a whorehouse and beats his wife and is just waiting for Lute to kick the bucket to get his money. When Sidney and a local wacko preacher begin orchestrating a smear campaign against Calif, he finds it difficult to conceal his past and his growing affection for Sidney's wife.

The band members never saw the movie.

I had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains CDs back in the early 1990's, but I don't recall ever hearing anything by Mudhoney until recently. My Brother the Cow is a pretty strong CD, but this is by far my favorite song on it.

For those of you who didn't grow up watching Borscht Belt comedians on The Ed Sullivan Show, "shtik" (more commonly transliterated as "shtick") can be defined as a somewhat contrived and obvious comedy mannerism or routine. Here, I think it's used to mean the characteristics or activities that sum up what the various people in the song are really like -- "into yer shtik" is very close to "into your thing."

It certainly meets my main criteria for a true rock song -- it is loud and generally pissed off at the world. "Into Yer Shtik" views the world as being populated largely by fools and (even worse) phonies, and it is afraid to tell it like it is.

Here's what the singer has to say about one character in the song:

Susie's just a girl
Who's doing her job
That came to New York
And wanted a car
Working with the management
To the stars
Kissing ass
Is a part of her job . . .
Oh she loves her job
What the hell?

She does it so well

Here's an iTunes link to this song: Mudhoney - My Brother the Cow (Expanded Version) - Into Yer Shtik

Here's an link:


And since I couldn't find a performance of the song on YouTube, here's the trailer for the Russ Meyer movie.

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