10 Best Beer Songs for Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest, which begins later this week and runs through early October, is that special time of year when lederhosen is acceptable and huge steins overflowing with frothy liquid are waved with mad abandon. In honor of this magnificent occasion, we’re diving headlong into rock’s greatest odes to the brewski. Admittedly, country music has the edge in this department, as hat-wearing twang merchants have produced some of the most famous peons to the amber nectar, and while Lou Reed preferred (to write about) heroin, J.J. Cale cocaine, and Weezer weed, plenty of rockers love beer and aren’t afraid to sing about it. What follows are the 10 Best Beer Songs for Oktoberfest.
All Time Low
While this ditty seems like a romantic interlude for the perky pop-punk band, the Stella in question isn’t a girl; it’s a beer. Not just any beer, but that great Belgian libation Stella Artois, one of the finest lagers around. That small country doesn’t often give the world great rock bands — Black Box Revelation a notable recent exception — but Belgians really know how to brew great beers.
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Now, this bluesy boogie from the masters of avant-garde rock fusion is one for the girls. Mr. Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, isn’t singing about his drug of choice, but an interesting eve spent with a one particular lady who likes her beer. The song appeared on the late Captains’ 1972 album ‘Clear Spot,’ and with gentlemanly admiration, he tells about the kind of girl who chucks them back like a trucker. Having said that he doesn’t sound like he thinks the beer babe is a keeper.
Spilt beer might seem like a minor incident, hardly something to write a song about, but these veteran British punks — notable for their ‘Clockwork Orange’ fixation and spelling problems — document an event that is widely regarded as a crisis in the U.K. The spilling of beer, especially when it is not your own, is a crime against humanity and nature. Not confessing to said crime and duly making amends with a brand new pint is punishable by some good old fisticuffs.
Pogues singer Shane MacGowan might hang out with Lou, J.J., and Weezer’s drugs simultaneously and call it a quiet night in, but in this dramatically titled tune, next on our list of the 10 Best Beer Songs, he’s momentarily content with the simple pleasure of sipping a beer on the beach. Singha beer, Thailand’s answer to Bud, is the beverage in question, and MacGowan’s enjoying it on touristy Pattaya Beach. Given all the other shenanigans in the song and in MacGowan’s life, the beachside beer constitutes a moment of blue-collar contemplation.
Asylum Street Spankers
These stellar musicians have a knack for novelty songs, but they were no doubt totally serious when they wrote this one. Here, the Spankers make a good point: After running down every popular drug and its pitfalls, the Austin band concludes, “I’ve tried ’em all and I might sound queer, but my favorite drug is a nice cold beer / Beer beer beer beer, beer beer beer beer, beer beer beer beer, we love beer.”
Lambchop’s maudlin story, next on our list of the 10 Best Beer Songs, is the opposite of the Asylum Street Spankers’ tune, in that the word “beer” is never actually sung. Perhaps the Spankers used up mankind’s lyrical allowance. Also, unlike that lighthearted look at life through the bottom of a pint glass, this song is heavy with the darker side of human nature. Presumably, this man who loved beer was a simple soul escaping the mean, madding crowd. On the other hand, perhaps he is himself the song’s violent “vile” being.
Bowling for Soup
OK, so it’s back to a more lighthearted beer song. Bowling for Soup wax nostalgic, recalling a time when they were too young to find solace in a (legally acquired) beer. Then they and enthusiastically remember the hallowed day when they could: “When I turned 21 you gave me hope that’s everlasting.” While these hop heads admit to those times when too much beer love is a bad thing — “Sometimes when I wake you seem like a mistake” – that regret is familiarly fleeting.
This Michigan ska sextet weaves a seriously sad tale about being down on your luck. Everything is lost and there’s one last comfort. Again, the song does not directly mention beer. If the title didn’t define what this succor is, it would be hard to guess that it’s a humble beer. Especially given the arching importance the lyrics give it: “There’s one thing that they will not take, that I will hold till the end, until my dying day, ’cause it’s part of me.” At least, we think the band means beer. Don’t they?
With the next entry on our Best Songs About Beer for Oktoberfest list, these Celtic punks redo of one of the saddest songs about suds, written by country songwriter Glenn Sutton and covered by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Rod Stewart. It’s more a rousing rockabilly celebration of a good time than a warning about having one too many, and although Sutton’s song makes no mention of any particular beer and is generally thought to be about alcoholism, he used Schlitz’s advertising slogan, “the beer that made Milwaukee famous.”
Really, leave it that great wordsmith Ray Davies to sum up the soothing kiss of cold amber liquid. When all seems lost, a little meditation on nature and chilled beer work miracles: “My girlfriend’s run off with my car / and gone back to her ma and pa / telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty / Now I’m sitting here, sipping at my ice cold beer / lazing on a sunny afternoon.” Who said the English prefer to drink warm beer?