Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks # 5: Queers- Love Songs For The Retarded

Posted: April 11, 2014 in Read Hard's Classic Pop Punk Picks

I don’t know if it would be even possible to write a column about classic Pop punk without mentioning the Queers. The first time I heard the Queers was when I was into Rancid and found the song “Rancid Motherfucker” and I thought it was the worst song I’d ever heard. When I got Wiggle I saw Joe Queer had co-written some of the songs and I decided to listen to “Rancid Motherfucker” again and see if it was still bad and it was! I figured all their other stuff would be better so I went to their Myspace and heard their cover of “Can’t stay mad at you” and was like “Wow, this sounds like the Beach Boys!” I instantly had it stuck in my head; it was at a time when I had gotten heavily into sixties pop music and was pleasantly surprised by the band. The next two songs were “I Always Knew” and “Peppermint Girl” which took it all to another level and I thought it was two of the best songs I had ever heard. The fourth song was “Stupid Fucking Vegan”, which I thought was pretty dumb and kind of sounded like “Rancid Motherfucker, but I forgave it because of the three great tunes I had just heard. It wasn’t long after that I decided to get Love Songs for the Retarded and other Queers albums followed. Don’t Back Down   and Grow Up were my favorites and still are, but the entire summer of 2007 I went around singing the songs from Love Songs. And I feel like I couldn’t have done another album when it comes to the Queers, it’s basically the definition of a pop punk classic.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Love songs for the retarded was released on April 13 1993. It changed a world for leather jacket and high top chuck-wearing, bubblegum chewing, beer drinking Lookout nerds who liked to sing beach boys songs and say “fuck you” at the same time. With its political incorrect attitude (It’s called Love songs for the retarded, so obviously) and catchy melodies it inspired a generation (at least we like to think so).

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

1. “You’re Tripping”: “YOU SUCK, MOTHERFUCKER!” the first words on the album! The song starts up with a drum roll and bursts into a hardcore-ish punk rock anthem which both reflects on anti-racism and getting drunk. The song just smells sing-along-anthem and every line will be sung once you’re in a crowd of sweaty punks pogoing, while Joe does his thing.

2. “Ursula Finally Has Tits”: Maybe one of the creepiest titles in pop punk history, and the opening line takes it even further: “When I first saw her, gee, I like that girl/Even before her first pubic hair would curl” in spite of that it’s a cute song and a classic ode to puberty and the sing-along factor might burn even hotter in this one. It’s as catchy as a pop punk song can get and the lyrics are so silly that you forget that they are indeed kind of creepy.

3. “I Hate Everything”: The sing-along-a-rama never ends. You can write a punk rock song about hating anything. “I HATE BIKES” or “I HATE BUGS!” or “I HATE YELLOW M&M’s!” and there exist songs like “I hate you”, “I hate Led Zeppelin”, “I hate your guts on Sunday”, “I hate your fucking guts”, “I hate punk rock” and “I hate hate haters”, but this song simply states that “I hate everything!” and that includes everything from eating your vegetables, to the Grateful Dead, to mowing the lawn and concluding that even the song itself is hatable.

4. “Teenage Bonehead”: Joe often introduces this as “A song for all the fuckups in the audience” and it tells the tale of someone who’s just been committed to a mental institution and had his girl ran away from him with his best friend and send him a post card that she’s glad he’s not there. In the end he sits alone wondering where she is and what she’s eating and why she never said goodbye to him. The song is a standard pop punk song that has a beach boysesque chorus. It’s a pretty slow song, but live Joe really speeds it up. It’s the ultimate pop punk heartbreak song! I’d maybe say it’s the ultimate pop punk song!

5. “Fuck the World”: A rather cozy song in spite of its title. It’s about life being shitty and the future being bleak, but that doesn’t matter when you have someone to hang out with you, whether it’s a lover, a friend or simply the audience you’re playing for. A song that mixes self-deprivation with feel good happiness and the “whoah”’s in the chorus just tops it all. The lyrics are written by Ben Weasel and it was originally supposed to be a Screeching Weasel song called “Amy saw me staring at her boobs”, they also did a version of “Fuck the World”.

6. “I Can’t Stop Farting”: Another song co-written by Mr. Weasel. It might be the least good song on the album, but it’s a song just about everyone can relate to. Having gas and farting all the time and trying to take a shit, but it isn’t happening. This song is the band telling us, like Joe has said a lot of times, “don’t take yourself so seriously” and maybe we shouldn’t!

7. “Feeling Groovy”: This is one of the songs where I have the most misheard lyrics in. I used to think he sang “they say I’m deeply troubled/oh, I shaved my head with a chainsaw” and “I’m really not Fats Dominos”. The song is sung from the point of view of Joe Queer himself and he wants a beer (probably a Budweiser) and he claims his parents hate his guts and that all the girls he knows are sluts. He also ran over his dog, but it’s OK since now he can eat his food. The bridge takes its melody from Jerry Woodard’s “Long tall Texan”, which of course was covered by the Beach boys on their first live album. Joe also references his own song “kicked out of the Webelos”

8. “Debra Jean”: One thing I know is true is that this is one of the best pop songs ever made. It’s a slow melodic straight up pop song that shows Joe’s romantic side. The chorus has “ba ba”’s that are more reminiscent of the Beach boys than anything they’d done before. The lyrics mixes infatuation with the self-deprivation we saw from the earlier songs: “Debra Jean, baby you are my queen, and queens don’t seem to speak to guys like me”, I’d go as far as saying this song is perfect.

9. “Hi Mom, It’s Me”: The perfect little one minute song that’s perfect for mother’s day. Which gives us the feeling of a punk rocker and his life at home where he comes home drunk every night and he claims the beers his mother found weren’t his and gives us a feeling of the relationship between a teenage punk and his mother, even though Joe wrote this when he was well into his thirties and it still sounds sincere. “Hi mom it’s me, the fucking little shit/the ugly little monkey that used to suck your tit”

10. “Noodle Brain”: Another classic tune, which takes us on a rollercoaster ride of feelings. The song seems to be about someone getting drunk trying to forget that he thinks the girl he likes acted like a slut. The chorus is him telling her that he hates her and how awful she is, but that she is a noodle brain just like him, which makes the song kind of adorable. The song is honest from start to finish, from the “Fuck you”’s in the pre-chorus to the declaration that she is the one that made him get wasted to drown his sorrows to him stating that “you’re a noodle brain just like me”. I feel like this song gives us a sense of sincerity a lot of the more politically correct bands lack.

11. “I Can’t Stand You”: At this point in this classic record, we get two straight up punk songs in a row. A song written by one of the most mysterious characters in Punk rock history: Ronnie Parasite. I don’t know much about him except that he’s a psycho. I think he plays in one of the bands called Accelerators that I like. This is another song about hating a lot of things, this time he can’t stand politicians, the military and talk show host, but most of all he can’t stand you.

12. “Night of the Livid Queers”: Maybe the fastest song on the album, cause Joe can play faster than Johnny Ramone. Like the opening song this song gives us a Meta feeling because it’s the Queers singing about being the Queers and they could both sound like theme songs for the band. It could also be a reference to the Beach boys’ “Chug-a-lug” which is Mike love singing about the rest of the guys in the band doing cool stuff and him chugging root beer.

13. “Granola Head”: What is going on? This song takes us back to the poppier side of the Queers. This is Joe singing about not wanting to be a hippie that eats bean sprouts and has dirty underwear. He’d rather get drunk and listen to the Ramones, with a bunch of stupid punks. (When I went to see the Queers I got a button that said “I don’t wanna be a granola head” and I talked to a hippie looking guy in the bathroom who said it was his favorite song and was bummed out that they didn’t play it and I showed him the button and he went and got one too, he also told me later he didn’t wash his hands, the memories)

14. “I Won’t Be”: This could possibly be the catchiest Queers song there is and also possibly the meanest with lyrics like “I won’t be your boyfriend because you’re just so damn ugly”. It starts up with a fantastic guitar lead. Once again Joe’s dislike of Dead-heads comes to life. There’s a very strange contrast in that Joe’s voice makes him sound like the nicest guy in the world, but the lyrics makes him seem like the meanest guy in the world and this effect is what makes the song so great. If this was just a silly cute love song that went along with the sweet sounding vocals and the catchy melody or an angry song telling someone that they’re ugly the song would be nowhere near as great as this! In spite of being kind of rude and mean, it does have a great message that you should just be yourself.

15. “Monster Zero”: Another more punk sounding song. It’s about a dude taking a girl to a drive in movie and she seems to be on drugs and claim she is crazy, he also tries to kiss her, but she falls asleep and even if his dad’s car is impressionable she still looks at him like he’s retarded, and this is his love song to her. The song has a cool guitar solo and a sweet bass line. What I like about this song is that like “Too many twinkies” on Beat off, it’s a fast punk song that fades into the most pop song on the album, on Beat off : “All screwed up” on Love songs: “Daydreaming”

16. “Daydreaming”: It only took me two times hearing this song before I got it stuck in my head. The bass intro is fantastic and it leads us into Joe’s “YEAH” and one of the strongest choruses of all time. It’s a story of someone who has always been let down by love, but has finally found someone he can be with that has taught him how to brush his teeth. I think there are references to the Beach boys’ “Good Vibration” (“I love the funny clothes that you wear and the little thing you do to your hair” and Velvet Underground’s “I’m sticking with you”(“Stick with me, I’ll stick with you”, it’s a perfect ending to a great album! “is this infatuation or just my imagination? I’m daydreaming my life away because of you”

—————————————————————————————————————–

After I got this album at 17 it’s still important to me, maybe even more than it was back then. It always reminds me not to take myself too seriously and appreciate the greatness of the Ramones, the Beach boys, Angry Samoans and of course the Queers themselves. All line ups of the Queers have been great and they’ll probably always be good, but this was the best line-up: Joe, B-face and the great late Hugh O’Neil. This album is 21 years old and would be able to buy booze in America if it was a person and it’s still a relevant album and will probably also be in the future. The next album is Leave Home by the Ramones.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. a worthy write up for a truly wonderful album. well done my friend

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s