Insanely Funny and Uplifting Backwoods Fun by John Waters

May 16, 2001 (Updated May 18, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Infectious, redneck music.

Cons:Might not like a few of the songs.

The Bottom Line: “Pecker” is a fun, fun, fun soundtrack to listen to while you are incoherent, or bombed out of your gourd.

John Waters is a unique American director who went the other way of respectability by producing “shocking”, “artless”, “immoral”, trashy movies. One of his most famous was “Pink Flamingos” that was banned for many years but finally released. “Pecker” is one of his most mainstream films, and from what I hear, not too shocking. The music has a polished feel to it, but still sounds like someone is having an irreverent good time.

Stewart Copeland composed much of the music to the soundtrack. The rest are an odd assortment of off-the-shelf songs that were always destined to be in a John Waters movie. Those cuts of music best left on the studio floor, but of course somehow made it onto some record because it sounds too great (while stoned) not to have it.

The soundtrack mixes cheerful, insidious melodies, country western, jazz, and fun, fun, fun. The original music as composed by Steward Copeland manages to be jazzy, bluesy, hip and busy. The songs change depending on where you are in the movie. There are at least 7 tracks of original instrumental music and songs interwoven throughout the CD. It is not filler material, but quite good if heard away without ever seeing the movie.

There are some songs that don’t work too well in the soundtrack without visual references. Some songs are really stupid, like the “In the Mood” performed by Henhouse Five Plus Too. The problem may not be the songs, but the listener. People tend to think too much, over intellectualize the music. But if you lower your IQ, then the songs are KEWL!!!!! Make sure you’re drunk. Trashed would be better. If you happen to be trashed white trash, A!!!

The bottom line: The soundtrack is fun, fun, fun. However, the CD is not worth buying unless you are a redneck out for some drunken, peckerwood good fun. The first time I listened, I didn’t like it too much. But because of the infectious first few tracks, I listened to it a third and fourth time and became convinced that this soundtrack is really cool. Believe me, “Pecker” is not thinking music, don’t play this at the doctor’s office or you might get probed the wrong way.

“Happy-go-lucky-me” is an insanely funny, lunatic of a song by Paul Evans. It is happy hobo dance music; when you’re down on your luck, broke, maybe about to get your butt-whipped-type of fun song. Banjo and guitar play a simple and infectious country lilt while Evans sings about how life is happy and sweet, definitely with a lunatic’s laugh, “Life is sweet, whoa yeah. Sweet as honey (Muha-haha) Happy-go-lucky-me!

More redneck fun, “I’m a nut (I’m a nut, my life don’t get ever get in a rut)!” This country/rockabilly song by Leroy Pullins is danceable with ultra low bass guitar played like a rubber band. Pullins croons nonsense phrases and ingeniously tongue-twisting lyrics praising the imbecile’s life. “Is it wetter under water if you’re there when it rains? Is it shorter to New York than it is by plane?” Once you get your one brain cell to spark, it hits you… Duh!

“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” is a satirical song sung to a happy 1950’s Christmas style melody about the letter you didn’t get in the mail. “Perfect solo alcoholic sing-along as you lose your last quarter to a ‘claw-machine’ in some old-timer bar.”- John Waters.

Among the other songs, there is “Don’t Drop the Soap (For Anyone else But Me)” one of the original songs composed for the film. It is definitely a Johnny Cash tender prison domination love song. The singing is reminiscent of the Talking Heads with its weird lyrics, music, and David Byrne’s style of singing. “There’s a guard in the tower, we got just one hour, when we meet in the shower, you feel my love power. Don’t drop the soap for anyone else but me.” Played with electric guitar, bottles, keyboard, and good fun.

There are two “eye-roll” songs in the CD. “Uh! Oh!” sung by The Nutty Chipmunks, is jazzy scat music with conveniently unintelligible lyrics sung by chipmunks. “In The Mood” is another jazzy, insidiously humorous song based on a famous Duke Ellington tune (I forgot which one, Take the A Train perhaps?). Chickens sing the song, with human sounding voices no less! Again, the lyrics are unintelligible. Anyone care to translate “buc buc buc buc buc buc buc!?” Wait, let me get the Jim Beam dictionary.

Most of John Waters’ films are about Baltimore with stories and characters originating from there. The city is also the director’s home. In “Baltimore, You’re Home to Me”, the song, by Dave Hardin, sounds like the theme song to Cheers. Indeed, this is the type of song one would play in a working man’s bar where Miller or Schmidt is on tap. There is a sentimental piano melody, added to it some slide guitar and lone wolf country crooning. The song reminisces about good times, and things dear to one’s heart; the “Love of friends and family”, “Hot steamed crabs and ice cold beer”, “Laughter under a Maryland moon”… Yeah right! They all are euphemisms for Baltimore as a lazy backwater swamp! Only kidding.

The drum samples in “Swamp Thing” start off fast and furious… Then banjos kick in and followed by serious psychedelic trance-like rhythms. Whoa! Banjos?!? Yes, its hillbilly techno! Your barefoot brother-cousin-husband Jeb gonna be square dancing to Ecstasy tonight.

Finally the CD ends with “Woo-Hoo” by George Donald McGraw, and performed by The Rock-A-Teens. The song is a rock and roll hit from the 1950’s and has an infectious danceable rhythm to it. The song perfectly captures the general wacky nature of John Waters and his films.

Track Listing:
01 Happy Go Lucky Me -- Paul Evans
02 The Love Chase -- Stewart Copeland
03 I'm A Nut -- Leroy Pullins
04 Memama -- Copeland
05 Uh! Oh!, Part. 1 -- The Nutty Squirrels
06 Straight Boys -- Vicky Randle and Stewart Copeland
07 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself a Letter -- Billy Williams
08 In The Mood -- Henhouse Five Plus Too
09 Back To Hampden/Sneaky Shelly -- Copeland
10 Baltimore, You're Home To Me -- Dave Hardin
11 Thrift Shop Fashion Shoot -- Randle and Copeland
12 Don't Drop the Soap For Anyone Else But Me -- Ridgeway and Copeland
13 New York Montage -- Copeland and Judd Miller
14 Pecker Man -- Damecus Metoyer and Copeland
15 Swamp Thing -- The Grid
16 Woo-Hoo -- The Rock-A-Teens

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