Chris Butler and Ralph Carney
Songs for Unsung Holidays
How come there are no more silly bands?
That is the question Ralph Carney asked Richard Butler that spawned this collection of bizarre tributes to holidays that almost no one celebrates. Carney and Butler have been friends and collaborators since the mid ’70s. They played together in Tin Huey and the Waitresses. Over the years, Carney has played reeds with everyone from Tom Waits to Medeski, Martin and Woods to Les Claypool to his nephews Patrick Carney’s band The Black Keys. Butler was the songwriter for the Waitresses and an in-demand producer and session musician. Both men have been prolific solo artists. This batch of silly songs is the last project Carney worked on before his death in 2017.
The tunes on Songs for Unsung Holidays are as weird as the days they commemorate. “Introduce A Girl to Engineering Day” (February 23rd) has narration about career opportunity in engineering punctuated by a Devo does the Chipmunks chorus. It’s unrepentantly goofy and probably my favorite song on the album.
“Bubble Wrap Day” (March 18th) has it’s charms too. I can’t resist a song that liberally uses kazoos and proclaims the superiority of bubble wrap to peanuts and newspaper for packing fragile things. Foods are well represented with “Tapioca Day” (July 15th), “Lobster Day” (June 15th). “Salami Appreciation Day” (September 7th) and “Cheese Ball Day” (April 17th). I guess “Buffet Day” (January 2nd) celebrates all of the above.
A couple of tunes seem to take their holiday to task. “Bath Safety Day” (June 3rd) turns out to be a ode to taking showers. “Bald and Free Day” (October 14th) is more about berating those who insist on wearing rugs on their heads.
In the days of free-form FM radio when DJ’s could pick their own playlist, I could see these tunes popping up through the year. I know I would be pulling out this disc pretty regularly if I were still doing a radio show. I like serious music, but as some Irish philosopher once said, there still time for dumb entertainment. Put on your “Gorilla Suit” (January 31st) and have a walk around.