My Top 1000 Songs #238: Take The Skinheads Bowling
[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]
I assume it goes without saying that Camper Van Beethoven's "Take The Skinheads Bowling" finds itself here because of a personal connection, not because of a claim that it belongs near the top of some canon of history's greatest rock & roll songs. (Or... just maybe...???)
When CVB's debut Telephone Free Landslide Victory appeared at the college radio station back in 1985, I was knee-deep in a decidedly serious immersion in indie rock. Bands like R.E.M. and the Replacements and Hüsker Dü, the Fall and New Order, were all revelatory for me, and while the music gave me tremendous joy, the thrill of discovery also ladened it with personal significance. But Landslide Victory was unabashedly silly and absurdist. Amidst the unexpected Balkan folks songs were whimsical and kinda nuts, collegiate snark and tongue-in-cheek acoustic punk, a counterpart of sorts to the Violent Femmes' debut which had made a similar impact to me in high school.
And this sense of freeing absurdism was best captured in "Skinheads," which instantly became a college radio mainstay, its two-chord jangle (reminiscent of the final section of Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run") paired with gleeful silliness, casual references to praying to Jah and bowling with skinheads and meaningless dreams.
It still brings a smile to my face today, both as heartwarming nostalgia for my college years and as a reminder that sometimes it's ok just to strum a guitar and be ridiculous.2013 live in-store performance:
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