a town called asshole
Release Date: 1/10
Album: HELLO CLEVELAND
Writer: ADAM MARSLAND
This is the story 'bout a boy named Jason
He worked at a donut shop turnpike facin'
He looked real slow and he moved real slow
But it beats the army and pickin' coal
It's an easy decision in A Town Called Asshole
This is the story 'bout a girl named Sue
she likes to pray and she likes to screw
'Cos she don't get drunk so what else to do
So let's all get together behind the pew
It's an easy decision in A Town Called Asshole
Way down behind the barn
A rendezvous, yeah, with your mom
And that's just how she bought the farm
Cigarettes and gin and middle fingers
Sarah Palin and Jerry Springer!
Woe to anyone that got in my crosshairs in the few days prior to the recording of HELLO CLEVELAND. "A Town Called Asshole," a vicious, offensive, and totally unfair indictment of "small town values" came about because I had trouble getting a cup of coffee.
As I've said before, most of the lyrics to HELLO CLEVELAND were written on a day-long drive across Pennsylvania. The weather was bad and we had a show to make. About mid-afternoon we pulled off at one of the few exits on the Turnpike to get some coffee and pee, as quickly as possible. We spotted a donut shup nearby and we all went in to where there was one guy ahead of us buying a dozen donuts and a teenaged boy behind the counter doing the world's most thorough job loading the box. We all were dying to pee but we discovered that the john at the donut shop was out of order. I sent everybody next door to a fast food joint to go the bathroom and promised I'd get coffee for everybody. Keep in mind I had to pee too.
So the kid finally gets done with his customer and ordered coffee and a donut. The kid gives me a blank look. "You want coffee?" he repeats. "We're out. I'll have to go brew some." And I'm thinking, what kind of donut shop doesn't bother to keep the coffee pot filled? They're selling two things...donuts, and coffee. So then the kid goes to make the coffee and I swear it took him two minutes just to get from the counter to the urn. The whole stop at the donut shop wound up consuming something like 15 minutes to get three shitty cups of coffee and a donut.
Back in the van, still vastly annoyed, I decided to lay waste not just to this kid but to everybody in the entire town. And thus was born "A Town Called Asshole," by most accounts the best performance on HELLO CLEVELAND, and one of the most offensive songs on the whole album.
I did the bulk of the music for the album in about one hour, after our show in Cleveland at the Barking Spider, when we all came back to Teresa's aunt's house where we were crashing. I immediately dashed down to Jon's room in the basement and as the band watched, I basically demoed the whole thing right off the top of my head. I had intended to collaborate more with the band but ideas were coming to me so fast I literally almost didn't have time to turn on my Blackberry to tape it. And since we had to record the whole thing in 36 hours, this was a good thing.
When I did the lead vocal for the album, I don't believe there was a single person in the control room that wasn't on the floor in hysterics. I had a hard time holding it in myself...I was in just the right pissy frame of mind and when it got to the solo, I was cracking up myself...you hear some of the laughter on the finished track but I edited out a lot more. The "solo" is my only appearance on the album "playing" keyboards...during the breaks between the music I dashed over to Charlie's synthesizer and slammed my hands down on it while he was trying to play. This was also the point where Bill Korecky, who up to that moment had been completely baffled as to what the hell we were trying to do, started to understand what kind of album this was going to be. You can feel that the band had been on the road together on this song, too...the groove is solid as a rock.
I grew up in a beautiful little town in upstate New York...in many ways as idyllic and carefree as the Andy Griffith Show. This song in no way reflects that experience, but that said, there wasn't a thing that I wrote about in this song that we weren't aware was going on somewhere nearby. I've lived in a tiny town and I've lived in the big city. They're very different experiences, but one isn't better than the other. They just have different strengths and weaknesses. This idea that "small town values" represent "real America" and we should all bow down to them is just ridiculous on its face; it's another one of these ideas that we've all taken in and accepted because we hear it repeated over and over again that if you take a moment to think of it objectively and rationally, is utter crap. I've lived in both and I will tell you, small town people ARE really smart...about living in small towns. And big city people are really smart about living in big cities. Neither has a very good sense of what goes on in the other and neither way is superior, they're just different. Both deserve respect and consideration, but one shouldn't be held up as a paradigm of virtue that we should all strive to imitate.
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