Song Stories

“Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers”

Primus | 1991

The songs that comprise Primus' 1991 album, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, are loaded with topics that remain uncommon in the rock format -- a warning against "a hammerhead shark, nose hairs and flatus" ("Here Come the Bastards"), a studly feline ("Tommy the Cat") and eating taco-flavored Doritos on a boat ("Fish On"). And "Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers" can also be filed under this category. "A tweaker is someone who is strung out on methyl amphetamines, otherwise known as crank," Les Claypool told Rolling Stone. "There's a reference in there to a guy who hung Sheetrock, and that's how he got through the day. He'd snort up speed to keep up with the younger guys." When "Tweekers" was performed at Woodstock '94, Claypool inserted in a bit of "The Star Spangled Banner" on his bass, mid-song, as a sideways Hendrix tribute.

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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