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Friday, January 8, 2010

Out There!: "Punk Rock Girl" by The Dead Milkmen

In 1988, I decided that the song that was the best that I heard that year was a tune from an awkward band named The Dead Milkmen. Since the first year I began honoring the best song of each year in 1987 when I honored a Brooklyn-based white young hip hop group called The Beastie Boys for their hip hop anthem Fight For Your Right, it was obvious that I was beginning to think a little bit outside the box. Before the late 80's, I couldn't care less about anything that wasn't popular and could be considered a bit ignorant. You can be damn sure that if I was writing a blog back then, it wouldn't focus on the more obscure and random stuff I write about now. I wouldn't be caught dead listening to alternative bands like The Cure, The Smiths, or Depeche Mode because it wasn't consumed by the masses.. But when I first saw the video for The Dead Milkmens' satirical punk song titled Punk Rock Girl one fine day, I thought it was a really unique and melodic song. The lead singer had the most annoying voice I had ever heard before, but his satirical lyrics about being in love with a punk rock girl was fascinating to me. Also the fact that he was singing with little enthusiasm while strumming basic chords on a guitar was kind of odd. What did make me quiver a bit was the appearance of the actual punk rock girl that lead singer Rodney Linderman was having his crazy adventures with. For some reason, the unique images of bloody fingers, unicorns, and ghouls dressed up as brides that were associated with most 80's videos didn't bother me in the slightest, but I was really concerned why the Dead Milkmen lead singer would be in love with a girl with a green mohawk, a tattoo on her right temple, and who wore ripped nylon pants. A really strange video featuring rock and roll at it's rawest, but it was still kind of cool to me.

The Dead Milkmen actually were formed in Philadelphia in 1983, but never really saw much commercial success. In a neat sports-related story, Detroit Tigers rookie Jim Walewander became a vocal fan of the band which was noted on his 1988 Topps baseball card. Walewander actually invited the Dead Milkmen to Tiger Stadium to see a game in which he hit his first and only major league home run. Punk Rock Girl arrived later that year, and was in the MTV rotation for awhile back when MTV was awesome! The video also appeared a few years later on The Beavis & Butthead Show of which it was panned in good fun. Punk Rock Girl appeared on The Dead Milkmen's 1988 album Beelzebubba which I actually almost bought at Wall To Wall Sound & Video back when I frequented the Rockaway Mall with my brother and dad every Saturday in the good old days. The song also made their 1997 greatest hits album, but until featured on the Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From The 80's Underground box set released in 2004, Punk Rock Girl could never appear on any other of the thousands of 80's compilations. Probably because Punk Rock Girl was never a hit single even though it could be seen a few times a day on MTV. Yet The Dead Milkmen still have a small cult of fans who would be proud to tell you that they were huge influences on spreading alternative music to the masses and encouraging other similar bands like They Might Be Giants and Cake. I still have always held this song and music video high in my heart for nostalgic purposes to remember a time when I didn't have to think too hard about things and could enjoy the innocence of being a kid. Now I always enjoy singing along to the classic lyrics like "You don't got Mojo Nixon then your store could use some fixing!" or the simple chorus of:"Punk rock girl you look so wild, Punk rock girl let's have a child, We'll name her Minnie Pearl, Just you and me, Eating fudge banana swirl, Just you and me. We'll travel round the world, Just you and me punk rock girl". Even to this day, it is still one of my top 500 songs of all time.

Ladies and gentlemen... "Punk Rock Girl" by The Dead Milkmen

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