Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beck -- "Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat)" (1994)

Acid casualty with a repossessed car
Vietnam vet playin' air guitar
It's just the sh*t-kickin', speed-takin'
Truck-drivin' neighbor downstairs
Whiskey-stained, buck-toothed, backwoods creep
Grizzly bear motherf***er never goes to sleep
It's just the sh*t-kickin', speed-takin'
Truck-drivin' neighbor downstairs
Belly-floppin' naked in a pool of yellow sweat
Screaming' jackass with a wet cigarette
It's just the sh*t-kickin', speed-takin'
Truck-drivin' neighbor downstairs
Psychotic breakdown double-edged axe
Growin' hair like a shag rug on his greasy back
It's just the sh*t-kickin', speed-takin'
Truck-drivin' neighbors downstairs

Yes, I know I broke the rules and went way over my quota of two or three lines.  But how could I pick only one of those wonderful verses?

How do you expect me to choose between "Acid casualty with a repossessed car," "Screamin' jackass with a wet cigarette," and "Growin' hair like a shag rug on his greasy back"?  It's like asking me to choose my favorite child.

How many of you are fans of the old MTV show, "Celebrity Deathmatch"?  It's hard to believe that claymation masterpiece went off the air almost ten years ago after a 75-episode run.

The plots of each episode were pretty much the same.  Two celebrities with grudges against each other (real or imaginary) were put into a wrestling ring, where they fought to the death.  The shows were unbelievably gruesome -- people had limbs ripped off, eyeballs plucked out and stepped on, and so on.

The first matchup was Charles Manson against Marilyn Manson.  Other notable bouts featured Dolly Parton vs. Jennifer Lopez, Mahatma Gandhi vs. Genghis Khan, and Pamela Anderson vs. Heather Locklear.

Here's the episode that featured Beck squaring off against Bj√∂rk for the title of best monosyllabic musician of all time.  (SPOILER ALERT:  Bach appeared via time travel and killed both of them.)

Videos tu.tv

I don't know about you, but when I hear a song that makes fun of rednecks, I immediately want to know if the singer is himself a redneck or not.  

J. Edgar Hoover
President Lyndon Johnson once explained why he didn't replace FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover thusly:  "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out that outside the tent pissing in."  

In other words, it's OK for another redneck to make fun of rednecks.  It is NOT acceptable for a non-redneck to make fun of rednecks.  (Same principle as rappers using the n-word -- which is OK -- and white guys from South Carolina using the n-word -- which is definitely not OK.)

I often call myself a redneck, but that is really just an affectation.  I have a lot of affectations.  Another one of my affectations is pretending to be the CEO of a wildly popular and successful blog.

Truth be told, this blog is hanging on by its fingernails.  We're just a hop, skip, and a jump from bankruptcy court.  If only my readers would just use the Amazon search box that is so conveniently placed at the beginning of each 2 or 3 lines post whenever they ordered anything from Amazon, I could rehire all those disabled single moms I've had to lay off.

(Don't tell me you don't ever order from Amazon.  I mean they sell everything there.  And it doesn't cost you a thing to order through 2 or 3 lines -- just click on that search box and you go right to the Amazon website.  Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy.)

Unlike Beck, I at least have some claim to membership in "Redneck Nation."  I did grow up in Joplin, Missouri, and I have Arkansas aunts and uncles named Ardith, Omer (not Homer), Ottis (not Otis), Thelma, Wilma, etc.  Ancestors on the other side of the family founded Ava, Missouri, the county seat of Douglas County, where much of Winter's Bone was filmed.

By contrast, Beck has no claim to redneckery.  I admit that when he appeared as himself on The Larry Sanders Show years ago, Artie the producer (played by the truly great Rip Torn) called him a "hillbilly from outer space."  That's pretty accurate, but the "outer space" part really overwhelms the "hillbilly" part.

Beck was born Bek [sic] David Campbell but took his mother's name and became Beck Hansen when his parents separated.  (Actually, he took his mother's father's name.  All you women out there who didn't change your name when you got married do realize that you still have a man's name, don't you?  You just have your father's name instead of your husband's name.  If you don't get that, wake up and smell the cat food, for cryin' out loud.)

Beck Hansen
Beck is a really, really weird guy.  But it's not really his fault.    

His father, David Campbell, is a relatively normal guy.  (In other words, Beck's family situation closely resembles my kids' situation.)  He's a classically trained musician who played violin and cello on Carole King's Tapestry album when he was 23.  Later he became an arranger, and has worked on albums by Bob Dylan, Metallica, Green Day, Radiohead, the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow, and many others.

By contrast, Beck's mother -- Bibbe Hansen -- is a total loon.  She is a performance artist, musician, and actress who appeared in several Andy Warhol movies when she was a teenager.  She recorded an album with Jack Kerouac's daughter, performed with drag queen/performance artist Vaginal Davis, and was a founder of the satirical band Black Fag (which made fun of the great punk band Black Flag).

Bibbe Hansen and friend
(Note:  I hope certain of my female readers will finally stop their bellyachin' about 2 or 3 lines never having any pics of hot guys.)

It wasn't all Bibbe's fault.  Her mother was a bohemian-type poet, while her father (Al Hansen) was a prominent member of the "Fluxus" school of art and a close associate of Andy Warhol.  Al Hansen's most famous performance art work was called the "Yoko Ono Piano Drop."  (Yes, Al was friends with crazy Yoko.  Birds of a feather, etc.)  That name is no joke, by the way.  He once pushed a piano off the roof of a five-story building.

"Calliope Venus," by Al Hansen
If David Letterman did that, it would be called a "Stupid Human Trick."  When Beck's grandfather did it, it was performance art.

Here's a link you can use if you want to learn more about the Fluxus movement.  (I wouldn't bother if I were you.  It'll just confuse you and give you a migraine.)   

Here's the weirdest thing about Beck's mother.  In 1974, she delivered twin babies -- Giovanni Ribisi (he was the star of the movie Boiler Room and also appeared in Saving Private Ryan and Lost in Translation) and Marissa Ribisi (who was in Dazed and Confused).

Ribisi played the smart girl with the curly red hair:

What a crazy performance artist like Bibbe Hansen was doing delivering babies is a good question, and I have no idea what the answer is.

But in 2004, Marissa Ribisi married Beck.  That is truly weird.  And so is the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Beck named their first two children Cosimo and Tuesday.  (No hope at all for those kids, is there?)

One final note:  all these people are Scientologists.  (Case closed.)

But back to this song, which I absolutely love.  It is on Beck's major-label debut album, Mellow Gold, which was released in 1994.  I think my older son bought the CD over a decade ago, and I've had it on iTunes for years.  But I must not have ever listened to the entire album, because this song was absolutely new to me when I heard it while mountain biking at Cedarville State Forest recently.

Cedarville State Forest is my favorite mountain biking spot in the Washington, DC area.  It's about an hour south of my home, so I only make it down there once or twice a year.  Despite having 19 miles of trails, it seems that almost no one goes mountain biking there.  On my last trip to Cedarville, I rode for 2 1/2 hours and saw exactly two other bikers -- and they were riding together.

This may explain why some mountain bikers shy away from Cedarville:

It's possible that some cyclists are confused by the high-tech trail signs, and (like Charlie on the M.T.A.) simply never return:

The somewhat antiquated sanitary facilities also may discourage more finicky riders:

On closer inspection, you can see that this outhouse is a two-holer -- no waiting when you're in a hurry!

The trails at Cedarville are relatively flat, but there can be a fair amount of mud to deal with:

But the worst thing about the Cedarville trails are the exposed tree roots -- you gentlemen riders better come equipped with seriously padded shorts:

I half-expected to see a dinosaur or at least a toothless banjo player in a bateau here:

This scene reminded me of a T-shirt that my wife bought my older son at an Urban Outfitters store when he was 8th-grade.  (It had the letter "I," a heart, and a picture of a beaver on the front.  She had no clue what that meant.)

Before we hear the Beck song, how about a picture of Kim Kardashian to (hopefully) help get my numbers up a little:

Kim Kardashian
Here's "Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat)":

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:

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