The Happy Shrimp Show – Steve Johnson

All original material, one music video per month for 2012. I’m cheating by starting January with an oldie but a goodie. The Project begins with this crusty old gem from long ago.

While in college I very much wanted to start a band. Unfortunately I had little to no musical ability, but that has never stopped anyone. The true unfortunate part was that most people recognized I had little to no musical ability. I was, however, somewhat successful at conning some very patient and decent friends to join my folly. The band I called “The Happy Shrimp Show” after a phrase that guitarist Jeff Dicken had scribbled on a note to me in one of our classes. This song, “Steve Johnson,” I had wanted to do for quite a while.

I had written the lyrics days before our “session” in anticipation. It was supposed to be under 2 min., very loud, and simply shouted or screamed instead of sung. We did two takes of “Steve Johnson,” before my voice went out and we could not record any more. The second take, with Ben Burck’s screwup, is still the best. I actually do not like the sound of my voice at the end of this take, and I think I sound like a jerk admonishing Ben for not ending when the rest of us did. The song sounds perfectly fine with the bass at the end, and should always have ended that way. I considered editing it out. But another part of me thinks this is also kind of true and important to include – that I was such a jerk. I mean to say that we SHOULD be making fun of me and thinking I was a jerk. Poor Ben.

The title, “Steve Johnson,” comes from an actual guy named Steve Johnson, not so surprisingly. Back in the summer of 1984, before I went to college, Tony Woollard and I had worked for a small company called D & L Computing. So had Steve Johnson, apparently, and he had left his name badges everywhere. Tony and I had taken to wearing them and addressing each other as Steve Johnson. The idea of Steve Johnson as a multiple identity that we both shared was interesting. The idea that Being Steve Johnson was some kind of weird privilege that you might be excited about was even better. Who was he? What sort of man could you become if you were Steve Johnson? The lyrics of the song go like this:

I wanna take off my pants
I wanna keep hamsters in my room
I wanna eat things off the floor
I wanna go outside without my mittens

(chorus) I wanna be Steve Johnson (x4)

I wanna lick a doggie chew-toy
I wanna watch “Mr. Wizard.”
I wanna find a lucky penny
I wanna have type O blood, baby


So now you can sing along.

The video was shot in an afternoon in the now razed house on Foster St., which held many bad memories, so it’s good it’s gone. I’m holding the accordion. The other actors are Tony Woollard, Charles Kilbride, and David Schulman – none of whom are making the sounds.

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