Mormon Studies in Unexpected Places: Volume 2 – Beastie Boys; Or, “No Man Knows My Lyrics”

By January 22, 2014

This is the second entry in the recently launched, occasional, not-at-all regular, sporadic  JI series, Mormon Studies in Unexpected Places. The basic idea is fairly straightforward: to identify instances in which Mormon Studies authors and/or their books, articles, etc. make an unexpected appearance in popular culture, political discourse, etc. Read the first entry here.

beastie-boys3

I’m like Fawn Brodie?

A few weeks ago, my cousin excitedly asked me on facebook if I knew that a Beastie Boys song contained a lyric referencing Fawn Brodie. I wasn’t aware, but it seemed plausible enough — the band is known for their clever lyrics, the late Adam “MCA” Yauch was reportedly somewhat eclectic in his own approach to religion, and their 1994 hit single, “Root Down,” referenced the band’s preference for snowboarding the powder of Utah’s slopes. Still, I was surprised to learn of the Fawn Brodie lyric.

A bit of searching revealed that the song reportedly containing the reference to Joseph Smith’s erstwhile biographer, “Sure Shot,” the third single from their 1994 album Ill Communication, actually referenced underground comic artist Vaughn Bode. Here’s the verse in question:

Well, I’m like Lee Perry, I’m very
On, rock the microphone, and then I’m gone
I’m like Vaughn Bode, I’m a Cheech Wizard
Never quittin’, so won’t you listen

It turns out, though, that my cousin wasn’t the first Mormon to mistake the reference. The Cheech Wizard reference should have been the giveaway, though it makes sense that Mormon listeners might not be familiar with a foul-mouthed, beer-guzzling, and philandering cartoon from yesteryear.

 

Article filed under Categories of Periodization: Modern Mormonism Cultural History


Comments

  1. Wow… I’m really, really square. I don’t know any of the references from that lyric.

    Comment by Amanda HK — January 22, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

  2. Myth–busted!

    Comment by Ryan T. — January 22, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

  3. I once excitedly told my roommates about a lyric in the Counting Crows’ “Round Here”, which I believed said, “She’s a Mormon, just a little, misunderstood.” They then listened to it and informed me that it was actually “She’s more than just a little/misunderstood”. I was crushed. :)

    Comment by Ardis S — January 22, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

  4. Fun!

    Comment by Hunter — January 22, 2014 @ 3:07 pm

  5. I am also quite unfamiliar with the lyrics. Fun, though!

    Comment by Saskia — January 22, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

  6. My wife informs me that during her sojourn at God’s University™, many held the belief that the song “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills and Nash had the lines,

    “I have been around the world,
    Looking for that Mormon girl,
    Who knows love can endure…”

    She was disappointed when I informed her it wasn’t so. In those pre-Google days, they also believed the song was performed by Kenny Rogers, so go figure.

    I guess Stephen Stills does sound a little bit like Rogers. I had another high school friend who thought “Marrakesh Express” was Simon and Garfunkel.

    Comment by New Iconoclast — February 3, 2014 @ 12:49 pm


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