quality posts: 16 Private Messages WootBot


Happy Music Monday! In honor of the 4th Of July, our "Weird America" week is celebrating the freaks that make this nation great. As we all know, there are plenty of strange rock stars out there. But weird? To qualify as weird you've got to be a different sort! So Scott's made a nice little list of crazy musicians that he thinks should qualify. They might not be who you wanna listen to every day, but then again, maybe you're a little weird-at-heart too! Here's the grandaddy of American shock-rock to kick us off…

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Classically trained musician wants to be an opera singer, and it doesn't work out. What's the other option? Well, before Screamin' Jay, very few people would have said "dress up like a voodoo priest and shriek out a stalky ballad." Look, genius finds a way. This weird American showed up at the dawn of rock and roll, when Elvis Presley was considered a little risky. It's safe to say that Screamin' Jay was the Marilyn Manson of his day, and that every star who ever offended someone through rock theatrics owes this particular weird American a debt.

Inside you'll have four more weirdos, plus a link to last week's playlist. See you after the jump!

Of course, you'll know about our weekly Spotify playlist, featuring a great selection from last week's Music Monday comments. The theme of the mix this time is Summertime Hits and it's perfect for tanning by the pool, or maybe for making you wish you were. But before you grab your water wings, let's kick off our Keep America Weird week with our current Music Monday below!


Captain Beefheart

I'd bet this might be the first time we've mentioned Captain Beefheart on our blog. The "Art-rock" genre is pretty well known, but "Art-blues" just isn't really a thing. And yet... can you think of a better way to classify a song like this? Or this? With a band that carried the raw blues power of John Lee Hooker, a voice growlin' like Howlin' Wolf, and an art-school sense of how to be strange, Captain Beefheart took over a zone that few people care to wander through. Not to mention, the guy grew up with our next choice, so how could he be anything but weird?

Frank Zappa NSFW lyrics

I debated if I should include Frank. Not because I dislike him, but because if I left him out, that would be a guaranteed comment! "Why did you leave out Zappa?" someone would ask, and I would have had to agree. Even if you can't stand to hear Zappa's music (and some people can't) you've just got to be aware that the man was a literal genius. Alice Cooper, Missing Persons, Steve Vai, Ringo Starr, John Belushi, Shelly Duvall, The Monkees, Al and Tipper Gore, Matt Groening and more all counted Zappa as either an influence, a collaborator, a friend, or a person worthy of their respect It's impossible to to cover all that Frank Zappa did or helped influence in a single paragraph, so why should I try? Pick almost any one of his records or interviews at random and you'll notice two things. The first is that he was a great composer. And the second was that he was pretty solidly weird.

John Zorn

I have to admit to being a serious John Zorn fan, but I can understand that he's not for everyone. For those who don't know, this saxophone player/composer/MacArthur Genius Grant winner has worked with some of the finest and/or most interesting musicians in the world, and produced everything from pretty soundtracks to an album made from duck calls to a musical history of the Holocaust. For the image link above I chose one of his more straight forward songs, but trust me, if you sniff around Zorn's catalog, you're gonna see some weiiiird ideas.

Sun Ra

He came from Saturn, and was one of the angels watching over the planet. Some people say he was born Herman Blount, but what do they know? They truth is that Sun Ra and his Arkestra mixed big band with soul and added costumes, theatrics, dancers and fire-eaters, helping to lay the groundwork for P-Funk and maybe even the idea of Lollapalooza. If you're talking about free jazz today, you're eventually going to end up mentioning Sun Ra (even though he didn't like the term), and his Arkestra still tours today. Face it, if you're a guy that jazz musicians call weird, you're a whole new kind of classification.

Who'd we miss? If you know some forgotten American weirdo musician, throw 'em in the comments below. But beware! Jason's got his own American Weirdos list in progress so your favorite freak-of-choice might already be on deck! As always, once you're done here, hit the Turntable.fm room for othe regular weird Music Monday experience. And please don't judge us for playing it straight for a second: some images come from their corresponding Wikipedia page and are here under fair use.

Quality Posts


quality posts: 716 Private Messages CowboyDann

The first three that came to mind were Zappa, Captan Beefheart, and then Tom Waits, in that order. So bravo on that.

Tom waits is an amazing artist with a unique talent who pretty much went insane after discovering captain beefheart in the late 70's. His lungs are an old steam engine, and his voice is definitely an aquired taste for most. Ill be back later to embed some songs, but when you're puting strings on a dumpster because you like the sound, I think that gets you a spot in weird america.

Oh yeah and he totally tames down his vocals when he records for an album. Check out how much better they are when he's singing live.

Now I'm late for work, I'll leave it to someone else to find some better Tom Waits Examples.


quality posts: 7 Private Messages DaLemming

Is They Might Be Giants weird, or merely eccentric? I mean, how many Indie-rock bands include an accordian and have as their best known song an ode to a night light?


quality posts: 2 Private Messages dzeiger

I definitely think that DEVO is well up there in the Weird category. Not only because of their own strangeness, but also because they managed to get Disney to create a kids cover band of their stuff. It's amazingly amusing when you realize that you're listening to a 12-year old girl singing about their "Uncontrollable Urge" and it's all approved and published by Disney.

Oh, and I assume that "Weird Al" is probably just too obvious.


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Slydon


dzeiger wrote:Oh, and I assume that "Weird Al" is probably just too obvious.

I hid him in the first paragraph shhh

don't ask me i don't know any hallways


quality posts: 15 Private Messages dontwantaname

Volunteer Moderator

OK, now I see that weird al is here.

btw, he isn't weird. We met him years ago and he was really, really nice.

No greater love is lost than that not shared.


quality posts: 59 Private Messages RWoodward

Zoogs Rift. That is all.


quality posts: 26 Private Messages cjhughes

Maybe I'm showing my age, but I don't know how any list of weird musicians could leave off Tiny Tim and Spike Jones.

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle,
I no longer despair for the future of the human race. H.G. Wells
Woot:42(Bucket of Coral:8) Wine:1 Shirt:10 Sellout:6 Home:1 Moofi:3 Electronics:2 Tool&Garden:1


quality posts: 4 Private Messages Listen2Reason

Ah, I was hoping to see Sun Ra on this list. :D

Also, I'm glad someone mentioned DEVO! I've got nothing else to add, though.


quality posts: 172 Private Messages agingdragqueen

I saw the Octopus Project live once, they wore masks on both sides of their faces and just wailed on their instruments (including a theremin!).

They opened for ...And You Will Know Us By Our Trail Of Dead who are very weird in their own right.

And while I'm on a Keep Austin Weird kick, Ghostland Observatory is just wild to see live.


quality posts: 17 Private Messages kchoschton

What about GWAR or Slipknot - or is it just me who thinks they're weird?


quality posts: 11 Private Messages Bingo969

Ha. This is actually a repeat of an entry I put down for the Zeppelin thread. I think these guys qualify here too.

Dread Zeppelin. Elvis impersonator, reggae style Zeppelin covers. And they are all WEIRD.


quality posts: 11 Private Messages Bingo969

I think Unknown Hinson absolutely qualifies. The man is about as weird as they come. The character is a country western blues rock guy who may or may not also be a vampire. Oh, and he's also the voice of Early Culyer on Squidbillies

Songs like 'Fishcamp Womern', 'I Want Your Love On Demand' and 'Your Man Is Gay'.

Mock footage of him in the studio doing Love On Demand.


quality posts: 26 Private Messages tjamil

I have two nominations:

Jello Biafra, former frontman of Dead Kennedys. Their most famous song is California Uber Alles

Wesley Willis was a schizophrenic, so his weirdness was medical in origin. He had quite a few songs, many with NSFW language, all weird and hilarious. Here is Rock and Roll McDonald's which refers to the restaurant on Clark St in Chicago.


quality posts: 17 Private Messages arismella

One of the coolest, weirdest shows I've seen (okay, the coolest, weirdest show I've seen) was Apes & Androids at the Bowery Ballroom in 2008. There were huge monster masks on stage, a giant yeti in the audience, and a Hey Jude finale that kicked multiple butts. I heard the band broke up (sad).


quality posts: 11 Private Messages bogus

Buckethead. The guy wears a KFC bucket and white mask while playing, it doesn't get much weirder than that. Even Ozzy is weirded out by this guy, according to Wikipedia, and his stage persona has brought a lot of parallels with P-Funk.


quality posts: 4 Private Messages dignan17

Wow, I've heard that Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune countless times, but always neglected to learn more about the man.

Apparently he might have fathered 75 children.

That's insane.

And weird....


quality posts: 1 Private Messages gbear711

The Fugs.


quality posts: 54 Private Messages Moueska

Your lack of Dr. Demento disturbs me.

Also, what about that crazy dude wearing the triangular tuxedo singing "Lightning Strikes"?

Also-Also... No "Adam and the Ants"?


quality posts: 7 Private Messages WendellWit

There is a current Weird Music Revival that is far less Rock-oriented but no less weird, led by Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm, as well as Garfunkel & Oates representing the always-underrepresented weird female category.

But anyone who has followed Dr. Demento long enough (and I was growing up in L.A. when he did his first shows in the early 70s... hey, I once met him and lent him a comedy record he didn't have!!) knows that there has long been a lot of Weird Music out there. There used to be always a couple 'novelty records' on the Year End Top 40 for Casey Kasem to try to explain...

Ray Stevens hit the top of the charts three times with "The Streak", "Gitarzan" and "Ahab the Arab"...

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett's "Monster Mash" was the original Monster of Rock...

Allan Sherman ("Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh") was mixing song parodies and Jewish humor before Weird Al was born...

Jim Stafford ALMOST flew under the pop radar with off-center songs like "Wildwood Weed", "My Girl Bill" and "Your Bulldog Drinks Champagne"...

Tom Lehrer got us dancing to "The Masochism Tango" and "The Vatican Rag" and studying chemistry to "The Elements Song"...

Shel Silverstein absolutely belongs in the top 10 if not top 5, for just his songwriting: "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash, "Cover of the Rolling Stone" for Dr. Hook, "The Unicorn" for the Irish Rovers, "Boa Constrictor (unfinished song)" for Peter Paul & Mary, the Country classic "Put Another Log on the Fire (Male Chauvinist Anthem)" for Tompall Glazer, the frequently-covered "I Got Stoned And I Missed It", and the song he is most associated with "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)". COME ON!

And the 70s gave us more Weird Rock than just DEVO. I'd include Cheap Trick and Sparks (both of whom played up the schizophrenic looks of their band members) ...and don't forget the classic Weird Funksters, Parliament/Funkadelic and The Jimmy Castor Bunch among others...

...and though never breaking out past the 'Demento' clique, Barnes & Barnes ("Fish Heads", "I Had Sex With E.T.") was notable because one of the Barneses was former-Lost-in-Space-child-star Bill(y) Mumy.

...so much weird,so little time...


quality posts: 716 Private Messages CowboyDann

I came back here to bring up a band that needs to be heard and is incredibly weird. For Weird American I'll nominate Honus Honus but everyone in this Philadelphia band is definitely weird. When I first heard a couple of their tracks I was kind of put off, but when I saw them open for modest mouse a week later it was love at first listen. They came up on stage, played nonstop for ~40 minutes and managed to get in about 8 or 9 songs. It was one of the best shows I have ever been to and I have seen them preform 3 times since. Their shows are always intense and full of energy. Anyways Here is the first song I ever saw by them live:

100 Bonus points for the Horn deflection shortly after 0:50, and 50 more for the look of awe on honus honus' face

Like I said, A lot of energy. The vocals shouts and instruments all qualify every member of this band for weird americans.


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Slydon


dignan17 wrote:Wow, I've heard that Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune countless times, but always neglected to learn more about the man.

Apparently he might have fathered 75 children.

That's insane.

And weird....

I once read an interview with Screamin' Jay where the journalist ended by saying the journalist's mother was really into the club scene when she was young, the journalist never knew his dad, and the journalist was born nine months after Screamin' Jay left town.

Screamin' Jay asked if this was about money and the journalist said no. Screamin' Jay got a big smile, held out his arms, and said "My long lost son!"

I'm paraphrasing, of course, but I still think it's pretty funny.

don't ask me i don't know any hallways


quality posts: 1 Private Messages jeffenz

What about Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle) or GG Allin?


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Slydon


jeffenz wrote:What about Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle) or GG Allin?

Patton makes a cameo in the John Zorn video too. He's a great choice.

don't ask me i don't know any hallways


quality posts: 60 Private Messages strawhousepig

Pretty much every outside of normal artist I could think of has been mentioned.

I owe a great deal to Jello Biafra. He's had a tremendous impact on me not only through his own music and ideas, but through the music of bands he put on Alternative Tentacles. Many of which would be considered weird to normies. I can comfortably say that I love Jello.

Zolar X - Space Age Love - YouTube These cats even use their own language.

Alice Donut - New Jersey Exit - YouTube One of the best bands on the planet. Up there with Floyd, Beatles, you name it. Little Joe & Hoss never did this on Bonanza.

Victim's Family - Things I Hate To Admit - YouTube I suppose. They're a little weird, but they rock, punk, jazz real good.

NoMeansNo... Canadian.

Also: The Styrenes perform "Drano In Your Veins" at Pirate's Cove, Cleveland 1979 - YouTube

Iggy Pop's always been pretty out there, too.


quality posts: 68 Private Messages LarryLars

Excellent choices here! Bravo everyone!

I feel compelled to mention a one-hit wonder here:
"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV (outed as Jerry Samuels)
The B-side of the 45 was "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er'yehT"

Have you checked your Private Messages lately?