Song 167: Camper Van Beethoven, “Take the Skinheads Bowling” (1985)


I’ll admit it: I chose this song today because I wanted to know why the hell it exists. It’s a great song, but what? “Take the skinheads bowling”? Was Camper Van Beethoven high when they wrote this? Or were they just trying to amuse themselves?

According to frontman David Lowery’s blog, it’s basically the latter. The song was an exercise in making as little sense as possible: “The lyrics were purposely structured so that it would be devoid of meaning. Each subsequent line would undermine any sort of meaning established by the last line. It was the early 80’s and all our peers were writing songs that were full of meaning. It was our way of rebelling.” Oh man, what a relief. I know that interpreting lyrics isn’t my forte, but I really thought I was losing my mind.

Knowing that this song is simply a string of non sequiturs makes it even funnier. Lines like “Everybody’s coming home for lunch these days” and “I had a dream I wanted to sleep next to plastic” sound like the things people say when they don’t know what else to say, so why not put them in a song whose sole purpose is to say nothing? And the fact that the band put so much effort into producing and arranging “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” with its violins and vocal harmonies, is also very funny.

Some people say that bowling alleys got big lanes.


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