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10 Best Butthole Surfers Songs

Viva Nola, Wiki Commons

How can you go wrong with a name like the Butthole Surfers? When these psychedelic Texas punks first started out, their beach lifestyle and risque name put them in the doghouse with radio DJs. Many folks, including the censors, didn’t want to utter the band’s sphincter-referencing moniker on air. Yet that didn’t stop this eclectic group, fronted by the maniacal Gibby Hanes, from stitching together musical genres, making artful Frankenstein noises and rocking through the decades. While naked undulating dancers and disturbing short films defined their live shows, infectious beats, solid bass lines and outstanding guitar work — not to mention an overdose of lyrical madness stretching from everyday sleaze to cosmic poetry — made this alterative band very fun to listen to and exceedingly hard to pigeonhole. And now, for your psychedelic listening pleasure, we give you the 10 Best Butthole Surfers Songs.


worm
10

'The Wooden Song'

From: 'Independent Worm Saloon' (1993)
 
 

We’ll start off with a gentle tune — at least as far as harmony and melody go. Mild guitar chords, a laidback guitar solo or two (plus a few distorted licks) and a fairly straightforward beat drive 'The Wooden Song' along a sweet path. It’s the lyrics that cut into the listener’s soul. “Take me, break me / Tell me a good one and maybe I'll cry / Go with me, show me / Tell me a good one and maybe I'll die.” Even though ‘The Wooden Song’ isn't as in-your-face as other Surfer ditties, this acoustic tune still manages to worm its way into your noggin and stay there.

 
Locus
9

'Human Cannonball'

From: 'Locust Abortion Technician' (1987)
 
 

'The Human Cannonball' is a rowdy song of forlorn “love” as only the Butthole Surfers can do. The drums kick in like something from a Sex Pistols album, followed by a blistering guitar line. Then Gibby Hanes shouts that he has been “cut to the bone.” It could be a track about hard love, drug addiction or some other violent emotional turmoil turning a person into a “human cannonball.” Regardless, this is one head-thrashing song that will make you want to knock over your dinner table, pump your fists into the air and take up the punk rock cause of living to the extreme.

 
Romeo
8

'Whatever (I Had a Dream Last Night)'

From: 'Romeo and Juliet: Music from the Motion Picture' (1996)
 
 

If you thought it impossible to connect the Butthole Surfers with Leonardo DiCaprio, you were absolutely wrong. Our heroes wrote this blistering tune, No. 8 on our list of the Best Butthole Surfers Songs, for 'Romeo + Juliet,' which DiCaprio starred in. ‘Whatever (I Had a Dream Last Night)’ is Gibby Hanes at his hallucinogenic best: “I had a dream last night, and it fit me like a glove.” The band manages to connect Betty Davis, John Wayne and a Vegas chorus girl with Romeo and a dead Juliet, not to mention Jesus Christ, who happens to be heading to Mexico on a drug run. It’s pure psychedelic rock genius.

 
Electriclarryland
7

'Jingle of a Dog's Collar'

From: 'Electriclarryland' (1996)
 
 

A gentle, back-and-forth guitar lick, accompanied by chanting lyrics, get this song off to a melodic start before a cacophony of minor chords drop in to upset the balance. But don't fret. Gibby Hanes’ surprisingly tender voice (on this track, at least) comes back to soothe the listener’s heart with the chorus: “What do they know about love?” Of course, this could be a song lamenting a lost dog, but more likely it’s about the collar (yoke) of being addicted to smack. The Butthole Surfers are wonderfully inventive when it comes to cryptic lyrics. “The Jingle of a Dog's Collar would be good right here / The Jingle of a Dog's Collar would be fine.” No matter if it’s a real dog, or heroin, this is still a damn fine tune.

 
worm
6

'Who Was in my Room Last Night?'

From: 'Independent Worm Saloon' (1993)
 
 

‘Who Was in my Room Last Night’ is almost thrash metal, bordering on speed metal at one point, but thanks to the Surfers’ knack for cross-pollinating genres, this song is more than the sum of its hard rock parts. It’s a kick-ass anthem full of violence-laced lyrics. “There were fingers going down my chest / My mouth went through the ceiling and my body fell to the floor.” If you check out the video for this track, you’ll notice Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers pouring out a mad-scientist type of brew from behind the bar in a trippy rock club. So, who was in your room last night?

 
weird
5

'Dracula from Houston'

From: 'Weird Revolution' (2001)
 
 

Who knew Dracula lived in Houston? This cheerful, mischievously playful song is a candy-cane-colored injection of pop sensibilities infused with a jolt of Butthole weirdo magic. There’s a smidgen of light rapping woven throughout the track, as well as a toe-tapping chorus and a generous helping of bubbly drum and guitar sections. Of course, the lyrics are as stratosphere-bound as anything else this mad musical collective has come up with over the years: “Gotta see a doctor about the words that I said / Gotta get a bike and I gotta paint it red.”

 
Psychic
4

'Lady Sniff'

From: 'Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac' (1984)
 
 

Reaching way back into the vault (1984, in fact), we’re treated to one from the Butthole Surfers’ first studio LP.  ‘Lady Sniff,’ from ‘Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac,’ is a raw, scorching blues track that starts out with a pealing guitar. Hanes then hocks a colossal loogie into the microphone, and that's followed by a deep growl, reminiscent of an old delta blues singer who has spent his life chain smoking and drinking cheap whiskey. While this isn’t the band’s most accomplished work, technically speaking, the fact that it's accented with massive belches and spitting sounds should have tipped folks off to the no-holds-barred songwriting approach these uninhabited Texans would favor on subsequent albums.

 
pioughd
3

'Something'

From: 'piouhgd' (1991)
 
 

‘Something,’ No. 3 on our list of the 10 Best Butthole Surfers Songs, is massive as far as the overall sound goes. The music hits the listener with a crackling wall of discordant guitars, a piercing horn section and a fair amount of primal screaming. Mr. Hanes manages to make his lyrics just as threatening as the vibrating guitars in both versions of this moody song (an early version appeared on the band's debut EP). “Something she said to me last night, cuz when I kicked her in the teeth she was out the door / I just know she'll be back for more.” This tune will never make a list of family friendly listening tracks.

 
Electriclarryland
2

'Pepper'

From: 'Electriclarryland' (1996)
 
 

‘Pepper’ is a contagious song that once again demonstrates the strong pop aesthetics running through to the band’s oddball core. ‘Pepper' also marked the first time the Butthole Surfers hit the Top 40, and it topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs (Modern Rock Tracks) chart. This jam starts off with ultra-slow guitars and beat-like poetry spread across a sparse drum track before heavier guitars kick in, and Gibby Hanes digs into the chorus, “I don't mind the sun sometimes / The images it shows / I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes.” The song grooves on regardless of the fates of the fictional people inhabiting the musical space. “Another Mikey caught a knife while arguing in traffic / Flipper died a natural death / He caught a nasty virus.” Cheerful stuff, isn’t it?

 
weird
1

'The Shame of Life'

From: 'Weird Revolution' (2001)
 
 

From the superb album ‘Weird Revolution’ comes ‘The Shame of Life,' No. 1 on our list of the 10 Best Butthole Surfer Songs. This tune, like many of the band’s songs, gives us a mixture of Hanes trading off between speaking and singing. He talks about how he “loves the girls and the money and the shame of life.” A lot of bizarre, mind-altering partying references are sprinkled throughout. “And there were girls pettin' squirrels, and there were squirrels smokin' crack.” You’ve just got to love the imagery. And for you trivia junkies out there, you should know that Kid Rock helped pen this jam with Hanes, which might explain the dichotomy and subversive elements peppered throughout the lyrics.

 

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