The last few entries have been really SERIOUS. I’m afraid if I stop being SO SERIOUS, and go back to my foul-mouthed, pop-culture-obsessed self, I’ll lose all the readers who like me because they think I’m SERIOUS and only talk about SERIOUS THINGS.
Yes, I am a recovering alcoholic who is currently helping to care for my mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. I also have some chronic, bordering-on-fairly-heavy-duty issues with body image and food. I have explored and shared about all of these things to some degree on the internet, both here and on my old site. But if there’s one thing I’ve never had much patience for, it’s that penchant for unabating self-analysis (also known as “brooding”). Reflection is all well and good, but if you’re going to be incessant about it, then go find an open mic night or something.
Because while I may have ten years of sobriety, it’s still not stopping me from trying to use my MBTA pass in my office’s ID card reader at least twice a week. #becauseiamadumbass
Anyway, today I would like to talk about how I am the luckiest kid in the sandbox because I get to play some of my favorite music of all time with some of the best people in the world, ever. They may not be my own songs, but I’ll admit that a lot of my own songs aren’t that great, and they certainly don’t make people as insanely happy as the stuff I play right now.
(Photo by Johnny Anguish)
Yes, I am in one of those “tribute bands.” We are called Bikini Whale, and we pay tribute to The B-52s.
For me, The B-52s are more than just a party band. Early B-52s songs are so incredibly weird, and not just because they’re about rock lobsters and space travel and giant wigs. Of course, the surface weirdness was what drew me to them when I was an adolescent, and painfully aware of my “otherness.” As I got older, and became a musician myself, I realized that there was no way to replicate those songs so long as my guitar stayed in standard tuning. In some cases, the tunings didn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. There were strings missing, too, depending on the song. It was, to my mind, the perfect example of somebody learning the rules, and then breaking them. Ricky Wilson’s technique? “I just tune the strings till I hear something I like.”
You what the what now? That’s INSANE. THAT’S why these songs are so crazy good!
If you come see us play, you will note that our guitarist has no fewer than a half dozen guitars onstage. That’s because the tunings in the songs we play in an average set go a little like this:
DADXBB (Strobe Light, Legal Tender)
CFXXFF (Rock Lobster, Dance This Mess Around)
EADXBB (52 Girls)
EBDXBB (Private Idaho)
BADXG#C# (Party Out Of Bounds)
And finally, EADGBE, which covers pretty much all of the stuff from “Cosmic Thing” on.
Here’s us playing “Strobe Light.”
I don’t know if I can get into how much JOY I get from doing this without getting a little misty (see – there I go being SERIOUS again). There’s the fact that I’m playing songs from a band that served as such a ray of hope for me growing up. When Fred sang, “Don’t feel out of place… ’cause there are thousands of others like you,” I believed him. I knew I would find them, and I did. One in particular is up on that stage with me; I’ve known him for 27 years now. Another one is the guy I’m married to. I’ve been friends with the drummer since my twenties. The Kate to my Cindy has quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. Our outgoing guitar player is a goddamngeniusmadman. Our incoming guitar player seems like he’s going to make for good hanging out.
We’re playing tomorrow night. Since our last show, we’ve added some new songs. I am beyond chuffed that we’re doing “6060-842.” Here’s a real old clip of the B-52s playing it:
And here’s us.
I can’t believe I get to do this. I bounce a little in my seat every time I think about it.