My brother said the song stopped everyone dead when it came on in the kitchen where he works. At the mercy of shuffle mode, his Spotify picked out “Play That Country Tuba, Cowboy” from the obscure Vandals album, The Vandals Play Really Bad Original Country Tunes. Understandably, nobody else had ever heard it, and the brassy bass received a collective, “wat?”
I originally picked up the album on cassette at a used record store. We’d throw it on in the car as a joke, which clearly was the band’s intention. But now, hearing the songs all these years later after my brother’s kitchen story, I have to admit – it’s got some gold on it. “Country Tuba” isn’t just a conversation piece to hear either, it’s got an amazing backstory.
Below the Vandals video on YouTube, I stumbled across this Hee-Haw clip of a guy named Stan Freese playing the song (and tuba!) in the ’70s. I recognized the last name because it’s the same last name as the Vandals drummer Josh Freese. Thanks to Wikipedia, I figured out how when your kid’s punk rock band is making a country album you pitch in however you can. This may be my new Father’s Day anthem going forward.
A dad writes and performs a joke song on TV. Years later, his son’s band gets him to re-record it for their joke record. A gift that keeps on giving.
Also not worth your time but worth me talking about is the lead-off track, “Clowns Are Experts At Making Us Laugh.”
Is it juvenile and immature? Yes. Did all of the lyrics age well? Not particularly. Is it a delightfully weird trolling of country music ideals? My god, yes it is. My brothers, our friends, and I would cry repeating the stupid talking/joke interludes to each other. How quotable to a bunch of nerdy 16-year-olds is this for example:
The other day 17 friends and me was drivin’ around in the clown mobile towin’ the ferris wheel in the back.
And this cop pulls me over and says, “
Where ya goin’ Bozo?”
I said, “I ain’t Bozo. I sure wish I was, though.
The man’s a friggin’ genius.”
You don’t need to play the whole record but give at least these two a listen. Disrupt/derail your coworkers, friends, and family accordingly. And happy early Father’s Day via the Freese family.