Music Monday – American Life

Primus isn’t exactly what I would call an obscure band, but they certainly don’t have the recognition they deserve. Although the band has been around since the mid eighties (their first record release was 1990) most people, if they recognize the name Les Claypool at all only do because of South Park or Robot Chicken, the theme songs to both of which were written by him.

It is difficult to classify Primus. They’ve been called “thrash-funk”, “alternative metal”, and most entertainingly by Claypool himself “psychedelic polka”. Admittedly their distinctive style isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever even attempted to pick up a stringed instrument you can not fail to drop your jaw in awe at some of the bass riffs.  Les Claypool is right up there with Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton and Flea, all of whom I adore.

The song I’ve chosen to share with you today comes from Sailing the Seas of Cheese, their second album released in 1991. It is about the disjoint between the American dream and the real life of American society. The video clip below is from a live performance, but should you ever have the chance to see a Primus video, do it. Highly entertaining and, well, VERY bizarre. The clip is long but if you want to see some really impressive bass playing you can move ahead to about minute 5 where Les demonstrates his skill.

American Life

In a town in southernmost Sicily
Lived a family too proud to be poor
In the year that fever took father away
They hastened for American shores
Now a mother and her son are standing in line
It’s a cold day on Ellis Isle
And they look to the Statue of Liberty
For the boy we have American Life

Ong is a Laotian refugee
He works in the audio trade
The smoke from flux is filling his lungs
He’s earning minimum wage
Spending spare time down on
San Pablo ave
Once a week gets a woman for the night
And he writes home tales of prosperity
For the boy we have American Life

Bob is an unemployed veteran
Born and bred in the South Bronx
He’s living off the streets down in east L.A.
Residing in a cardboard box
Now he plays a little quit and he has a small dog
Searching for aluminum cans
And he hold on tight to his dignity
He was born into American Life

Check out Soccer Mom in Denial for other participants.


~ by CableGirl on Monday, January 21, 2008.

11 Responses to “Music Monday – American Life”

  1. I’m not a big fan of Primus…though, I do love the South Park theme song…it’s just so damn catchy (haha). Oh, and I thought they did an awesome job at covering Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.”

  2. It is interesting how MLK day leads to reflection about what it means to be American, are we inclusive, do we even care to be? Great piece. I’ll have to check our Primus. If you like them then I should….

    Thanks for spinning the tunes this week.

  3. Heh, I totally forgot it was MLK day in the states. I just got caught up on all the blogs from this weekend in my Reader. I think I can muster up some flashbacks on Friday. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard Primus. I’m listening to Kate Nash right now.

  4. Wonderful post, CG! I’m going to have to come back later and listen, as DS is trying to study in here right now.

  5. Okay, so I liked the lyrics a lot better than the music, but I’m really expanding my musical horizons with your Music Monday choices and I LOVE that!

  6. I have to say that your musical musings have truly expanded my musical education. Can’t say I’m always a fan of the tunes but you do have a great knack for finding great lyrics. Thanks!

  7. And so again, my musical world expands, just from knowing you….
    Cool tune.

  8. thx for your comment on my icebreaker post. VERY happy it led me here…

    so I’m having a weird MLK memory (or partial memory) of a college raodtrip to DC for MLK weekend. did PRIMUS do a song with some lyrics…”always saturday”…? sound familiar?

    I don’t know a lot of primus but I’m pretty sure some boys in the car were rockin primus on that roadtrip. fun memory — and well timed. thanks for the nostalgia trip!! cheers~

  9. Sailing the Seas of Cheese – wahoo! 🙂

  10. My, that was quite a wild ride–the lyrics were very thought-provoking. I’ve never seen South Park so would have to ask my son about the musical opening. Thanks for sharing this. Musical Monday is certainly expanding my musical world.

  11. Love that song! Put it on a compilation a while back… Primus continues to be one of me all time favs! Some time ago, a music prodigy friend of mine said, “there’s a point in the songs you love where it clicks and you just soar.” Well, as he said that I thought, “Say baby do you wanna lay down with me? Say baby? Say Baby!” But of course, those damn blue collar tweakers are the backbone of this here town…

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