J-Ship’s A – Z (with Jonathan Shipley)


I like ‘em well enough. Their last couple of albums off the Barsuk label, Let Go and The Weight Is a Gift, are good standard alt-rock fair. But, the name Nada Surf. Dumb. Other dumb names they could have had – No Straw Hat, Zip Tacos, No Way Jose Tea Cozy.

”NAKED AS WE CAME,” by Iron & Wine
”I lay smiling like our sleeping children/one of us will die inside these arms/Eyes wide open, naked as we came/One will spread our ashes round the yard.” Holy cow, Iron. Geez Louise, Wine. Any way you could make the song any MORE depressing? Perhaps. Maybe there’d be a horrible sense of irony if the one who dies dies in an accidental bacon grease fire in the kitchen one morning and because they’ll already be ashes there’d be no point in scattering them round the yard because they’d be out there already, there, and in the kitchen. That’d be sad, too, I bet, dying in a bacon grease fire. And it’d hurt.

Cornet great Red Nichols made a great many records in the 1920s and 30s with trombonist Miff Mole. Their band went under a variety of names at that time including Red Nickels and His Five Pennies, The Red Heads, The Louisiana Rhythm Kings and, my personal favorite, Miff Mole and the Little Molers. What the hell is a Moler? Further, what the hell is a Miff? Sounds perverted to me. Red and Miff, sick freakin’ bastards, those two. When they played with clarinet great Pee Wee Russell it was really pornographic. Red Pee Wee in the Miff, they were called. Calvin Coolidge banned them from playing in public. Members from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union stormed one of their practice sessions and dented Nickels’ horn.

Is there any rocker out there more beautiful than Gwen Stefani? Well, yes, Mama Cass. But anyone else?

“NORWEGIAN WOOD,” by The Beatles
”I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me/She showed me her room, isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?” Wait a minute. Wo! Is, this song about, uh, erections?! Are we talking about the sexual escapades (in Northern Europe?) of John, Paul, Ringo and/or George? Which of them is Norwegian? Ringo? And, isn’t it a bit crass to just, you know, sing a song about your penis? Or are they actually singing about the décor of the woman’s bedroom, paneled as it is, in rough-hewn spruce?

A nychelharpa is a traditional Swedish musical instrument. It’s a string instrument similar to both the fiddle and the hurdy gurdy. Just think, music educators of America, how many more youngster would become musicians if the instruments they were to play had cool names like the hurdy gurdy. Just think how cultured and developed our children would be! When you’re in 5th grade you don’t want to play the “violin” you want to play the “snoozle.” You don’t want to be ridiculed for taking “piano” lessons. You want to be praised for the concerto you learned on the “poopsie.” Care to play the “clarinet,” youngster, or the “Boobooadoo”?

-Jonathan Shipley

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