Freaky Repost: “Dad I’m in Jail”


I went out Christmas shopping with a friend tonight, and this song came up after we got home a were watching a show about a bank-robbing family.  So here it is again.  Enjoy!


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.

2 thoughts on “Freaky Repost: “Dad I’m in Jail”

  1. I loved Walk the Dinosaur. It’s strange that they did a song like this as well. When you talk about vocal suicide, Larry Lifeless of Kilslug and Upsidedown Cross came to mind. They’re sludge metal/doom metal — he sings a song called Momento Silence, an entirely disjointed piece where he sings off-key — his trade mark — there’s an art to singing like that, I swear. I think it’s genius — ha! The group interjects chords from Chopin’s funeral march throughout and at the end randomly tack on a snippet of ragtime — the song makes me ecstatic!

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