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.
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.