Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

By the time The Muppet Show was launched I wasn’t paying attention to kids’ shows, so I missed out on first-wave Muppetmania. Through the years, though, I gradually became aware of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and grew to admire their work. So when I came across their demolition record of the old pop standard “Tenderly” (“the evening breeze / caressed the trees / tenderly”), I knew who they were. And their version is a beautiful travesty. Aggressive, off-kilter drumming and sax, lurching New York funk-punk rhythm, and an affably bellowed lead vocal, with background singers shouting along on the recurring title word -- well, you can go listen to it at Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem’s MySpace page.

Travesties prick the bubble of pomposity. Spike Jones, the Flying Lizards
New Wave-era demolition of the Motown/Beatles standard “Money” (“that’s -- what I want!”), Michael Caine in Little Voice destroying Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” -- all of these travesties honor the power of the original songs by having their own way with them full tilt, no holds barred, pedal to the metal, we just ain’t a-gonna pay no toll.

Band practice again tonight. I showed the Mexican-style song to the drummer, and he said it would translate well into Spanish. When he mentioned that it sounded Mexican, I rewrote one of the lines to include the word “Heart,” because my friend Jay’s cousin was visiting once from Texas and told me that the word “corazon” -- “heart” -- is all over Mexican song.

Singing is physically tiring -- but it’s a good kind of tired.

I brought the kid to band practice, after a picnic dinner that I cooked and packed in the morning. We played a song he wrote. He was happy to hear it and didn’t want to sing along. I’m not sure yet if we’ll play it in public, but I’m enjoying playing it. It’s more a chant than a song -- 4 words repeated over and over, with an occasional “oh” thrown in. Catchy tune, good beat, cryptic lyrics -- what could possibly go wrong?

Speaking of going wrong, here is the Behind the Music episode with Animal the Drummer. Behind the Music is always a cautionary tale designed to console the non-famous watcher with images of the miserable lives of the rich and famous. This one is no different.

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