Saturday, July 28, 2012

Six Hot Jams from Wesley Willis

We'll be breaking hiatus to discuss an artist who we discussed often in the "Geocities" years, but who we've been neglecting since launching the "blog" version of this website.

Wes was a gentle giant with an incredibly accurate memory and amazing penmanship. He's been mentioned often throughout our travels across the United States, and since we'll be heading to Chicago later today, we've decided to throw together a mini-"Best of" comp with some light commentary...

"They Threw Me Out Of Church"

Rest In Peace Denis Fleminon...

Denis very sadly passed away on July 7th which we discovered while heading from Santa Fe to Phoenix. Denis was a member of The Frogs (who we've been listening to almost daily since we left for this trip) and was also the guy who initially introduced myself and thousands (possibly millions) of others to Wesley Willis on January 8, 1995 when Pearl Jam included Denis as a guest on their one-off radio simulcast "Self-Pollution Radio." During the segment, Eddie Vedder and Krist Novoselic called Denis and asked him to play a Wesley Willis song over the phone... (The entire transcript can be found here: and you can listen here:

Krist: How things been hanging Jim? (correcting himself) Denis?
Denis: What's that?
Krist: Hey Denis, it's Krist Novaselic.
Denis: Hi, how's it goin?
Krist: Got your letter.
Denis: Yeah.
Krist: Thanks.
Denis: Thank you.
Krist: Alright.
Denis: We got to ...we got to take the cow for a walk in a little...a little while.
Eddie: Hey Denis, you don't have any of that Wesley Willis stuff lying around do you?
Denis: Um. If I could find it. I do. You want it?
Eddie: Actually yeah. I mean, you know. Wesley Willis his whole repertoire is a...we'll take anything.
Denis: Here it is. This is a uh. I'm hearing the delay downstairs. What's it called ... "They Threw Me Out of Church".
Song: "They threw me out of church" by Wesley Willis
Denis: Can you handle it?
Eddie: Ah man. Well I could, you know he's one of my favorites. Just the fact that you know that really happened and that his lyrics are honest. That's all I want in music. An honest lyric...

"Arnold Schwarzenegger"

Wes' tribute to Arnold epitomizes his collection of tributes to his friends and his favorite bands. Other fan-favorites of this type include "Alanis Morrisette, "Elvis Presley" and "Oprah Winfrey" among hundreds of others. He tells Arnold "You are the best man I ever liked."

"Shit and Fuck"

Many of Wesley's songs describe his battles with the demon. "Shit and Fuck" discusses the voices in his head who scream profanity instead of allowing him to hear the music he desired and needed. The outro of this song repeats the refrain "Shit and Fuck" for a minute or so longer than average, depicting his difficulty with chasing away these voices.
"2 X 4"

At the beginning of this song, Wesley says "Thank God for how I'm learning how to live." In certain moments, he was able to convince himself that his schizophrenia may be able to subside itself, and that he might be able to live peacefully and quietly among strangers, although it's not long afterwards that he imagines fighting those strangers with 2x4's and BB guns.

"Casper The Homosexual Friendly Ghost"
It's not easy to choose just one song from The Wesley Willis Fiasco, who Wesley fired in 1996 not long before his infamous Howard Stern interview. The Fiasco only released one album in 1992 (full of classics including "I'm Sorry That I Got Fat" and "Jesus Is The Answer") but "Casper" seems to be the jam where the Fiasco and Wesley both came together in a manner that rocks beyond novelty aspects.

"Michael Jackson"
As far as we can tell, "Michael Jackson" is unavailable on any of Wesley Willis' studio albums (although we've heard from sources that ALL of his songs had studio versions... Wes was able to recall the tracklistings for his entire discography consisting of over 100 albums, between his solo work and his albums with The Fiasco and The Dragnews). In the case of "Michael Jackson" however, the fan-taped live version is definitive, mostly because of its extensive introduction. The song was recorded in 1997, which was about a year or 2 prior to his rise as one of the first internet-phenomenon artists. After 1999-2000, the shows were less full of DIY-punk who heard of Wesley through word-of-mouth. By 2001, the frat and college crowd made up the louder half of his audience, and Wesley's demon voice became louder than ever, encouraging him to drop shows and tours altogether. However, he was always able to convince himself that the show must go on; otherwise, he wouldn't get paid...

Along with "I'm Sorry That I Got Fat," "Michael Jackson" is probably the best representation of his mesmerizing live sets:


Hello from Wisconsin. We've been on break for over a month due to "the road." Never fear... we've been throwing together some fun stuff. We'll jump into some quick posts and hopefully within a few weeks, things will be looking more normal around here...