Never Heard of 'Em

The Dead Milkmen

Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.

The Dead Milkmen

Big Lizard in My Backyard

I listened to Big Lizard in My Backyard over a few days, both alone and with other humans. It's funny! Like jokes from Popsicle sticks in an alternate universe set to music, or short animated movies—silly and weird. (As usual, I don't love the yelling.) Music editor Emily Nokes said the Dead Milkmen were very important to her, so I tried hard. The people around me laughed a lot, so I didn't feel like a dick for making them do my "work" with me. Someone admitted to never remembering which is which when it comes to the Dead Milkmen and the Dead Kennedys. Then we tried making up mnemonic devices about Jell-O to help. (It didn't work! He's still confused.)

I think, in the end, that this kind of joke-punk is made for dancing and laughing, and I like that because frown music gets old after a while. But the day has not quite come when I can fully enjoy someone whine-screaming over guitars, unless there's a good reason—and "I don't wanna be on the beach" is not good enough for me. The guitars were fun—beach guitars, strummed while jumping. DM sound a little like if someone made a cartoon about the teenage children of the B-52s making a punk band behind their parents' backs.

The real gem in the dairy crown of these Milkmen is the total awesomeness of the lyrics. If you were playing this album as a teenager and your parents heard it, their knee-jerk response would be to tell you to cut your hair/get a job/etc. But if they listened for 30 more seconds, the likelihood that they'd be able to keep from laughing is slim. These jokes are for everybody! Parents, too. (Except for the zoo one. C'mon, guys.)

Here are the best ones... From "Beach Song": "I gave my ice cream to a shark/And now I got nothing to eat." Good point! Or in "Swordfish," the opener: "Some people believe in astrology/Others believe in technology/Some people believe in all those -ologies/But I BELIEVE IN SWORDFISH!/(He believes in swordfish!)" Man, you did not see that one coming, right? Same with "Rastabilly" and its rhyme joke (oh, the rhyme joke, an oldie but a goodie): "My baby drives a truck/My baby sure is good luck/My baby has a pet duck/And my baby is a heck of a fffffffriend." HA! Gotcha. They're also big fans of left field. Like "Serrated Edge," a song about starting a Charles Nelson Reilly–based religion: "Just me on a hilltop with 15 girls/In a Nelson Reilly orgy that'll make your hair curl."

I realize, now that I'm out of space, that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about these guys! Ask me about them later. Really! At a party or something. For now...

I give this a "laugh and the whole world etc." out of 10. recommended

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Comments (9) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Wow. I saw the Milkmen at the OK Hotel in 1991. Their biggest hit was "Bitchin' Camaro" and my favorite lines are from the spoken intro: "I drove it up here from the Bahamas" "You're kidding." "I must be, the Bahamas are islands."
Posted by milkmen on March 13, 2013 at 11:51 PM · Report this
derek_erdman 2
So glad you tackled this one, Anna. "Serrated Edge" plays in my head nearly every day when I wake up.
Posted by derek_erdman on March 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Dougsf 3
@1 - I think I was at that show. Did a weird costumy band called the Billy Goats or Mountain Goats or something about a goat open?

Like @2, it's amazing how often the lyrics to "Serrated Edge" play in my head.
Posted by Dougsf on March 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Try Beelzebubba next. Just as hilarious, better production. Surprised you din't mention Bitchin' Camaro.
Posted by Crag on March 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
I miss the OK Hotel and the 90s. ***sigh***
Posted by PunkRockGirl on March 14, 2013 at 6:09 PM · Report this
Posted by dangerdarling on March 14, 2013 at 8:14 PM · Report this
I was lucky enough to interview them on the 1996 "Not Richard, But Dick" tour which is also a killer album as well as Metaphysical Graffiti, Eat My Paisley, & Beezlebubba with Rodney's grandpa on the cover. Bucky Fellini is hit & miss, as is Soul Rotation.
Tragic that Dave Blood killed himself in 2004 over depression caused by no longer being able to play due to debilitating arthritis in his hands.
I missed their 2006-ish return to the stage.
Posted by BillHicksFan on March 18, 2013 at 9:41 AM · Report this
& half-sarcastic thanks to DangerDarling for getting BTLV stuck in my head... "She looks like a volcano too with her red hair & brown dress. Intellectuals are phonin' in to a land called PBS"
Posted by BillHicksFan on March 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Big Matt G 9
Y'know what, Stewart? I like you! You're not like the other people here in the trailer park!
Posted by Big Matt G on May 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this

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