Regarding Butthole pleasures…

October 15, 2007 at 11:41 am (The Easy Chair)

Tails of my misspent youth?

Advice for the rectally challenged?

A how-to? Heavens no.

Today’s topic is a music lesson, so dig out your copy of Marilyn Manson’s Cake and Sodomy, slip on the headphones and ride along as I reminisce about one of my favorite bands…

The Butthole Surfers.

In the ’80s, I lived at the Biltmore Hotel, just up the street from Satyricon, Portland’s legendary punk club. One day I stumbled out into the daylight, and blinked three times when I looked at the marquee of the Satyricon-

The Butthole Surfers
Holy Fuck Batman
The Hell Cows
Smegma

Wow! Such language! Can they do that? I made a mental sticky note to swing by later that night.

I did. Not being able to afford the $6 or $7 cover, I stood outside. It was cacaphony, and I had no idea which band was playing. A bartender with a faux-Scarface accent told me to get lost, and I pretty much forgot about the Butthole Surfers, until ElectricLarryland came out in 1997.

While having my morning beer, I heard this weird song playing on KUFO. I called Al Scott, the program director and sexual intellectual (fuckin’ know-it-all) and asked him who was playing. The song was Pepper, and the group was the Butthole Surfers.

“How is the rest of the album? Is it all whitey-rap?”

No,” replied Al. “That’s actually one of the weaker songs. If I had to pigeonhole their sound, it would be electric-folk-punk.”

“Cool! Thanks Al!”

I bought the album soon after, and proceeded to annoy all my friends with it. Songs about cough syrup, dog collars and junkies filled my days and nights. I liked the album so much it was time to discover some of their older stuff.

It was hit and miss. Their older stuff was an acquired taste, and a taste I soon acquired. Independent Worm Saloon, folkier and more musically traditional, was the soundtrack for late ’97-early ’98.

Then came 2001, and the release of arguably their best album yet. (Musically speaking.) It was called Weird Revolution, a concept album about shaking up our complacent world with acts of weirdness, to “freak out the bugeyed, bowlegged normal man.’ Songs of girls pettin’ squirrels and squirrels smokin’ crack. Songs about vampires. A tune called ‘Shit like that’, which describes an LSD trip better than any Beatles song. The cover has a giant baby zapping airplanes out of the sky with its eyes.

The album is either the most prophetic album ever, or a victim of the worst possible timing. It was released two weeks before September 11.

Yes, that September 11.

The music industry began censoring their radio playlists. When John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane was deemed improper, the already-slim chances of a group called the Butthole Surfers getting songs about terrorism played on the radio pretty much went up in flames.

They did get to make a few TV appearances. They were on the Late Show with Pretentious Asshole, I mean Craig Kilborn. He refused to say their name on television, which made for some unintentional humor.( Why, oh why, did you have to retire, Tom Snyder?)

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding around with ThatGirl, and a song came on the radio. Instead of switching away, her fingers tapped the steering wheel.

“You LIKE the Butthole Surfers?” The girl is still full of surprises.

“Is that who this is? I’ve always liked this song.”

“Well, if you’d like a copy, I have a bunch of their stuff.” Always willing to share. And corrupt.

“I’m sure my teenage son would love to own anything called Butthole Surfers. Bring ’em over!”

So now I have to ride the bus crosstown to retrieve my favorite albums. Well, two of them. I wouldn’t leave Weird Revolution behind. It’s an original release, and I think it’s out of print. In fact, I may just spin it as I get ready for work.

“I love the girls and the money and the shame of life…”

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