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Freaky Friday: “Dad I’m in Jail”

Posted by purplemary54 on July 12, 2013

This is probably one of the strangest tracks ever recorded by anyone, ever.  Approximately a minute and a half of lunatic raving, Was (Not Was)’ “Dad I’m in Jail” can be seen as a surreal experiment, or satirical commentary on social mores.  I’m still not entirely sure if it counts as music.

Was (Not Was) was a funky-bluesy-jazzy pop/rock group with lyrics straight out of a poetry slam.  They simply did not fit into any single category.  Which is what made them so freaking wonderful.  David Weiss and Don Fagenson renamed themselves David and Don Was, and arranged a lineup that suited their musical tastes and influences.  They had some radio success with “Walk the Dinosaur” and the eminently cool “Spy in the House of Love”, not to mention a more than serviceable cover of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”.  But “Dad I’m in Jail” remains a favorite of mine, mostly because it seems so out of place.  Singers Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens don’t show off their stellar vocal talents here.  I’m not sure which of the Was brothers is committing vocal suicide on this track, but my money would be on David Was (he apparently wrote beat poetry).

It’s easy to listen to music that can be ranked, listed, and rated.  It’s easy to pick a genre, and choose superb examples.  It’s much harder to listen to something that challenges you, that refuses to be a neatly fitted round peg in a round hole.  Of course, “Dad I’m in Jail” isn’t even a square peg trying to fit into a round hole..  It’s more like somebody took the peg, set fire to it, and threw it in a pit full of . . . something flammable.  Possibly explosive.  The jarring, chaotic jumble of notes behind the screeching voice is, to put it politely, a little strange.

Which is, of course, the best thing about it.

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5 Responses to “Freaky Friday: “Dad I’m in Jail””

  1. Oh God, replace the word Dad with Mom and I’ve heard this song so many times in my life.

    • Is it bad that your comment made me laugh out loud? Because I can just hear the exasperation in your voice.

      Seriously, I can’t imagine how much it must suck to hear that on the other end of the phone. I hope this provided a little catharsis.

      • LOL no it’s not bad that you laughed out loud at all. It is funny. The part that gets me most of all is when he says “I like it here.” 3 hots and a cot, and someone else is paying for it. 😀

  2. Sandee said

    Love this!

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