Turn It Up, Mr. Prez!

B-Sides unearths some tight presidential tunes, finds the softer side of the Simpsons' notorious bully and knows way too much about the Spin Doctors

The Spin Doctors' heyday arguably began and ended with 1991's Pocket Full of Kryptonite, although the smoldering new song "Can't Kick the Habit" shows that the NYC quartet — touring again with its original lineup — still has that loosey-goosey-blues spark. Still, this true e-mail exchange with my good pals Milli and Vanilli (names changed to protect the innocent) reveals that, well, we secretly have rather deep affection for the band.

>> Annie Zaleski 07/14/05 10:12 PM >>

is it totally embarrassing that i stayed up late one night when i was fourteen just to watch the band on letterman? i wore out my copy of pocket full of kryptonite. ah, junior high.

Spin Doctors: You let your heart go too fast.
Spin Doctors: You let your heart go too fast.

>> Milli 07/14/05 10:52 PM >>

but that's nothing. I learned the slap bass part to "little miss can't be wrong" when I was in a cover band as a senior in high school. and that was waaay after the spin doctors were cool — that is, were on MTV.

>> Vanilli 07/14/05 10:58 PM >>

OK, OK, you dragged it out of me; I have a promo single for "How Can You Want Him When You Know You Could Have Me?" I haven't played it since I picked it out of a freebie bin, but I remember liking it enough to want it.

>> Milli 07/14/05 11:06 PM >>

good, because the spin doctors, at heart, were sensitive, fragile men, albeit men in touch with their feminine side (cf. "cleopatra's cat"). perhaps their finest moment, however, was in the video for "two princes," in which the lead singer playfully competes with an overweight african-american male (who has the upper hand throughout, natch) for the affections of a woman, who, like the femme fatale of "little miss" is not your typical rock video bimbo, no!, but instead, a woman attractive mainly for her above-average force of character.

>> Vanilli 07/14/05 11:25 PM >>

Greil Marcus got plenty of hate mail after he wrote in a Salon column [about] what's-his-Spin Doctor (Chris Barron, right?) that anyone who would write something as misogynist as "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" deserved to lose his voice the way Barron did for a while. Was it cancer? There was something really wrong with his vocal cords a few years ago.

>> Annie Zaleski 07/14/05 11:48 PM >>

1. chris barron is his name. i believe he's australian [Editor's note: He only lived there for a spell; he was born in Hawaii]. i think his vocal problems were nodes [Ed: It was vocal-cord paralysis]. i know he had to take time off, but i believe rest helped him.

2. "how could you want him..." has a great video. pastoral bike riders.

3. "you let your heart go too fast" was clearly the band's finest moment. from the second album — albeit after the live disc, homebelly groove.

4. "jimmy olsen's blues" is the finest superman song — 3 doors down and five for fighting be damned! — Annie Zaleski

The Spin Doctors at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City. Show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday, December 15. Tickets are $12 to $14; call 314- 534-1111 for more information.

Bully On You!

Revered Simpsons bully Nelson Muntz is most famous for his nasal inflection of "Ha, ha!" But jockeying for a close second is his unexpected exclamation of "Aaandy Wiiiliams?!" upon seeing an advertisement as he, Bart, Milhouse and Martin drove through Branson, Missouri. With a swift punch to Bart's head, Nelson insisted upon stopping for a show. B-Sides took it upon ourselves to find out why.

B-Sides: How did you come to be such a big fan of Andy Williams?

Nelson Muntz: My old man was a huge Andy Williams fan. When he'd go to the gas station, I would sneak a listen to his records. He was there most of my childhood, so I got a lot of listening in.

On your stop in Branson, you infamously cried during "Moon River."

I'd like to see you stay dry-eyed on a second encore! The words really move me: "Waitin' round the bend/my huckleberry friend/Moon River and me." Think of all the people that drowned in that river! And bears love huckleberries. I think of Andy and bears wandering the forest mauling people just for kicks. The only thing more heavenly than bear attacks is Andy Williams' singing voice.

What's the craziest length you've ever gone to for an Andy Williams show?

I once hitchhiked from the state that Springfield is in to the state that is geographically farthest from Springfield. That's a long way; it gets expensive. Schoolyard bullying has been tough. All the good fraud is on the Internet these days. Stealyourmilkmoney .com is in beta testing right now. That's all I can say.

Besides "Moon River," what is your favorite Andy Williams song?

I'm partial to "Hawaiian Wedding Song." My parents played it at their wedding when I was five. My old man sat me down, we split a cigarette, and he said, "Son, if you ever get a chance to meet Andy Williams, don't muck it up. He's a good man!" When he left I thought he might have gone to meet Mr. Williams. So I sent Andy dozens of letters asking if he had seen my dad. I also sent him alternate lyrics I had written for "Lonely Street" with gratuitous use of the word "poop." He never wrote back.

Who are your other great musical influences?

I'm a big fan of the classics — you know, Andy Williams, Black Sabbath, The Beach Boys' darker songs where they talk about hitting people on the head with surf boards. When Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno, it was just to watch him die. Nowadays songs have reasons for shooting people. Where's the senselessness?

Are you particularly musical yourself?

I like to take Christmas carols and change the lyrics. I had a big hit reworking "Joy to the World (The Teacher's Dead)." And I'm betting all my marbles on my next tune, "Deck the Halls with Skulls of Pansies."

Thanks for your time!

Smell ya later! — Kristyn Pomranz

The Andy Williams Christmas Show at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 20. Tickets are $27.50 to $57.50; call 314-534-1678 for more information.

History Never Repeats

Following the successful release of The Bill Clinton Collection: Selections from the Clinton Music Room, the estates of at least four other presidents — including William Henry Harrison and John F. Kennedy — have been scrambling to put together their own music compilations in time for the holiday season.

The CD honoring William Henry Harrison is tentatively titled Beginnings and will feature the first minute of thirty different songs, one for each day he served in office. "We'd like people to remember him for something other than, well, dying," explains Sarah Pulliam of the William Henry Harrison Memorial State Park in North Bend, Ohio. "After all, the Claims Convention was signed with Peru during his time in office. Oh, and he was secretary of the Northwest Territory." Rumored to have been included on the CD is the first minute of Johnny Rivers' "Rockin' Pneumonia," a lighthearted nod to the illness that claimed the life of the ninth president as a result of his particularly long, hatless inauguration speech in freezing weather.

Having the distinction of its namesake being the only swinging bachelor to live in the White House, the James Buchanan Society is marketing to the 18-to-35 male demographic with music fit for a White House bender — one complete with togas and already appropriately dressed Supreme Court justices. Its playlist pulls heavily from the Beastie Boys ("Hey Ladies" and "Funky Boss" are two) and Sublime's 40 Oz. to Freedom. While the James Buchanan Society concedes that Buchanan was never in a fraternity while in college, they say he totally hung out with guys who were. And he was really kind of a hottie.

Kennedy's forthcoming release, Video Killed the Incumbent Vice President, links JFK across generations to other great Americans — like Kelly Clarkson — who were voted upon by the American public owing largely to their television appearances and general good looks. The Kennedy estate has remained quiet as to the other inclusions on the album, saying only that there will be preview copies available after all Masses next weekend.

As of press time, the Supposed Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of Thomas Jefferson would neither confirm nor deny the whispered existence of their own collection, reportedly called T.J.'s Hiztory Jamz. — Kristie McClanahan

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