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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WESLEY WILLIS, ALWAYS WITH US

During the waining hours of a long workday covering the Oregon primary elections, a friend of mine handed me a sheet of paper with what was purported to be the lyrics to a song called "Matthew Workman" written by Wesley Willis. It went a little something like this...

"Right on brother
You are the reporter king
You really whoop a snow leopard's ass
Matthew Workman really whoops a camel's ass"

I laughed so hard I almost fell over. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

I first learned about Wesley Willis when I wrote for the sadly departed music magazine "grid." There was Wesley Willis CD in the office and it was everybody's favorite listen for a while. Somehow I got the assignment to write the review (I stole, the CD from the office... that's how I got the assignment) and actually had to listen to the entire album.

Wesley Willis released countless albums during his career (really, it's almost impossible to figure out just how many albums he's released), but every song is essentially the same. He chooses a subject (usually a band, but sometimes an actor or business or type of food), shouts the name four times, shouts some facts about the subject, declares the subject kicks some animal's ass then ends with the famous tag: "Rock over London/Rock on Chicago/Budweiser are proud to be your bud."

The advertisement at the end would change, but the structures of the songs wouldn't, nor would the backing track, which was a Casio keyboard playing pre-programmed chords.

I wrote the review of the album, then wrote a Gwar concert review in the Wesley Willis style. Eventually I interviewed Willis for a feature article that I'm more proud of than anything I've ever written. (Sadly, the last known copy of that story was left in the trailer of "Skippy" from "Family Ties." The story behind this fact is long and surprisingly boring.)

Willis died in 2003, but he has remained a cult figure online and in certain musical circles. Some enterprising young man has even developed a Wesley Willis song generator (you have to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the song generator). All you have to do is enter some information in a few fields and the program will crank out a Wesley Willis-style song just for you.

And that's what my buddy Chris did late Tuesday to lift my sagging spirits. Ironically, Wesley Willis actually did write a song about me. It went a little like this...

"You are my friend on Los Angeles
I love you like Purina Dog Chow."

That's about as far as he got, but I was flattered just to have that.

And now that I've been shown the song generator, it's kind of like we've always got Wesley with us. So I'll end by posting a song I had generated for my friend, Scott. I haven't seen him in years, but I believe this song communicates everything I would want to say to him.

Scott Whitmore
by Wesley Willis

I like you well.
You can really rock your ass off.
You make the joyride music.
I like you a lot in the long run.

SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!

You are a database administrator star.
Scott Whitmore is the best.
I like you well.
You are my special database administrator.

SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!
SCOTT WHITMORE!!!

I like you well.
Scott Whitmore is very special to me.
Scott Whitmore really whoops a camel's ass.
I love you a lot in the long run.

Rock over London,Rock on Chicago.
Be a Pepper - drink Dr. Pepper.

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4 Comments:

At 6:28 am, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

So strange to come here and see this entry about him — I only just heard of him last week and have been scrounging around to find his music online.

That song generator rocks, it rocks like Pop Rocks with an ice-cold Coke. Go Chicago, go Pop Rocks, go Coke.

 
At 7:23 am, Anonymous Scott said...

What a lovely song, although I am not actually a database administrator. I am an Interface Designer, which is really more camel ass whooping than some pansy database admin. Rock over London!

 
At 9:29 am, Blogger Workman said...

This is why we should talk more. Last I heard, you were administering databases. But that was some time ago.

Now you're designing interfaces? I bet I understand that even less than database administration.

 
At 5:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange, last I heard, Scott was whooping llama ass. He's doing great!
I however am still whoop free, but hopeful.
When I get some whooping done, can I, by way of announcement, honk the horn by the door to the house of fun?
Mark

 

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