DC ROCK CLUB
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Namecheck

What's the rock equivalent of the rapper's "Well, my name is [INSERT NAME HERE], and I'm here to say..."? It's the self-namecheck song, where you mention your own band in the song. Below are a list of the most well-known (to me) self-namechecks. As you'll soon see, you shouldn't write this kind of song unless you know what you're doing.
From best to worst:

  1. "Bad Company," Bad Company. This one is probably Bad Company's best song and explains the whole raison d'etre of the band. If you're Paul Rodgers and someone asks you what it's like to live the rock and roll lifestyle, you get a faraway look in your eyes and say, it's not for everyone.
  2. "Jocko Homo," Devo. .0003458 points out of first place. Are we not men? We are Devo.
  3. "Rock and Roll Band," Boston. Okay, technically not a self-namecheck since they never really say their name in the song, but really, what part of "We were just another band out of Boston" do you not understand? This one had everyone dancing in the streets of Hyannis, including that one mongoloid Kennedy kid who killed that girl with the 5-iron. That's how powerful this song is. The Steely Dan version would go like this: "We were just another band that formed in a northeastern private college/we read Vonnegut and wear turtlenecks"..../break for four minute gay jazz sax solo/..."big black cow etc etc."
  4. "(Theme From) The Monkees," The Monkees. Same concept as "Bad Company" but totally different vibe. When you ask Mickey Dolenz what it's like to live the rock and roll lifestyle, he'll give you a hug and then ask for a cracker.
  5. "Private Eyes," Hall and Oates. Another one that's not a self-namecheck song, but hey you know what's fun? Every time Hall sings "private eyes, they're watching you," replace with "Hall and Oates, we're watching you." It makes for a much more interesting song. You know what else is amusing? Every time a song has the word "you" in it, replace with "Jew." That's good for a few laughs.

  6. "Black Sabbath," Black Sabbath. This song only mentions the band name in the song title, but not in the song itself. Here's what the song says: big black shape with eyes of fire/telling people their desire/Satan's sitting there, he's smiling/watches those flames get higher and higher/oh no no, please God help me! Also, this song begins with the sound of fat sizzling.
  7. "Who Are You?" The Who. Word has it that Pete Townshend wrote this song recounting a night when he met the Sex Pistols and got piss drunk because he felt washed up. Passed out in a Soho doorway and you know the rest. I was amazed when I realized this song contained the word "fuck" clear as day and yet was still played on the radio.
  8. "We Are The Clash"/"This Is Radio Clash"/"Clash City Rockers," The Clash. Having watched The Future Is Unwritten (click here for Sacklunch's exhaustive review), my main takeaway was that Joe Strummer was kind of a prick. After firing Mick Jones, he cobbled together some be-mohawked strangers and released Cut The Crap, which is a world-famous misnomer if there ever was one. Really, "We Are The Clash" is a terrible song. "Clash City Rockers," however, is pretty cool. The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is "This Is Radio Clash." As always I am the contrarian and prefer Mick Jones to Joe Strummer.
  9. "They Might Be Giants," They Might Be Giants. Let me quote Homer Simpson here: "Marge, try to understand. There are two types of college students--jocks and nerds. As a jock, it is my duty to give nerds a hard time." Here's what I propose we do with John Flensburger, or whatever his fucking name is, and the other one, the guy that looks like Jamie Lee Curtis--find an escalator in the Port Authority, make them each kneel in front of a handrail, make them stick their tongues out, and lick the entire length of the escalator handrails. The whole thing. We could put a piece of duct tape on the rail to make sure we know when it's gone around one revolution.
  10. "On With The Body Count," Body Count. Lord, why doth hast thou punished me by making me live through the 90s? Ice-T sucked bad, whether he was rapping, or barfing out this rock/rap abortion that was Body Count. Didn't he grow up in the suburbs? Something about him seems fraudulent.
So there you have it, the definitive top ten. If any local bands are reading this and are thinking of going the self-namecheck route, beware. It's like wearing an ascot, you have to have the right attitude to pull it off.

8 comments:

Jumbo Slice said...

The Namecheck, when performed properly, is quite cool. A couple other examples are "The Dismemberment Plan Get Rich" which tells the story of the D-Plan spending their billions. Fujiya & Miyagi namecheck themselves about 300 times on "Ankle Injuries". In fact, I think the whole song is just them repeating their name over and over.

Jimbromski said...

damn it, forgot the F&M song

Tyler said...

Wilco (The Song) anyone?

Jumbo Slice said...

Also, Prince sings "My Name is Prince".

John Foster said...

I like the reverse namecheck like The Replacements "Alex Chilton" or TMBG's "We're The Replacements."

Don't be too hard on Strummer. I haven't seen the documentary but Bernie Rhodes had a TON to do with the crap at the end. Mick Jones was always the careerist in the band as well and you simply couldn't see his fascination with dance music working in their structure. I love them both as flawed as they are. Strummer is my third favorite ham-fisted rhythm player. Totally underrated as a unique guitarist. Just behind Bernard Sumner of New Order and Colin Newman of Wire.

Total tangent at this point but my favorite pre-Clash story is how McLaren and Rhodes were trying to assemble bands and just throwing people together and at one point had Jones writing songs in his bedroom with Chrissie Hynde (yes - that Chrissie Hynde.)

Anonymous said...

just an album namecheck in You Better You Bet but still great

"To the sound of old T-Rex
oh, and Who's Next"

-Beth

rick m said...

You botched this one, Jimbromski. Number one by far should be "Minor Threat" by, ummm, Minor Threat.

Unknown said...

I just heard "In a Big Country", by Big Country.

Does that count?