YU Rock Fakebook

Dear Reader, you are doubtless aware of how much I like punk rock from ex-Yugoslav states. Well, last summer Sarah and I were in Sarajevo, and I was looking for Bosnian punk records. I went to what must have been every record store in the fucking city, but I couldn't find anything even close to what I was looking for. And since Sarajevo is an incredible place and my time there was limited, I finally gave up searching.

But I did find this really cool Balkan rock fakebook:

It's basically just a collection of tabs for popular tunes by ex-YU rock bands. Check out this page spread of two Pekinska Patka (Peking Duck) tunes:

Pekinska Patka are from Serbia, and they are one of the best punk bands ever, from anywhere, at any time in history. Period. This song, "Biti ružan pametan i mlad" (the computer translates it as "Subsist ruĹľan brainy plus adolescent"), is one of their best.

I've long wondered what Nebojša Čonkić was saying at the beginning of this song. According to my book, it's "pipipipi, kvakvakvakva, kakadakakadakakada."

This book? This thing is authoritative.


Sloopy in the Future

My friend Greg is a parts guy at a Harley Davidson dealership. In fact, his official position is Chrome Consultant. He lives in upstate New York, and spends his days playing blues rock in a band that has opened for the likes of Loudness and Pat Travers, listening to bands like Accept and Saxon, and riding his Harley around.

Besides our mutual affinity for The Dictators, Greg and I like completely different kinds of music. He frequently tries to convince me to go see bands that are a good 30+ years past their prime when they play in Poughkeepsie. Sometimes I cave in—which is how I found myself in Greg’s truck, listening to Montrose, and heading towards a motorcycle swap meet where Rick Derringer would be performing. My friend Tom, a noted Klaus Nomi enthusiast and experimental film guy, was also there.

Later on in this story, Tom has an eerie premonition.

Chances are, if you’re going to go to a motorcycle swap meet, you ought to have at least a vague interest in motorcycles. Unfortunately, I don’t know shit about motorcycles, so I wandered around the swap meet environs—a disused IBM plant—staring at, like, greasy bolts and handlebars arrayed on the floor. There were also vendors selling t-shirts, the best of which depicted a guy with a moustache and mullet riding a motorcycle, superimposed over a line drawing a of a Native American chieftain, with the caption “Brothers in the Wind.”

At events like this, Greg is like a celebrity. He’s like a cross between Bob Barker and Spiderman. As he works the room, shaking hands and kissing babies, I survey the crowd. About one-quarter have some kind of visible disability brought on by motorcycle riding—canes and braces were all over the place.

Greg introduces me and Tom to several notable scumbags who all had names like “Poochy” and “Deuce” and "Earwig," as well as one guy who also had a funny name (that I won’t list here) and a face covered in warts. He breathed really loud through his mouth and kept talking about he couldn’t get any women to show him their “pairs,” as in “man, Greg, last year everyone got all fucked up, and the girls showed me their pairs. I saw some nice fuckin’ pairs, brother. But I ain’t seen no pairs today. I’d settle for any kinda pairs, I’ll tell you that much.”

Anyways, I should mention that I didn’t actually know who Rick Derringer was. According to Greg, he was the guy who did “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo,” which I swore I’d never actually heard until I saw the man himself perform it—at which point I said “Oh yeah, this song.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My point is, I’m wandering around this event with Tom, and the two of us have no idea what to do. We’re just waiting for Derringer. I went in there not knowing or caring about Rick Derringer—after hours of staring at crap like wires, troglodytes, and t-shirts with “English Spoken Here” printed on the front, I was desperately craving some entertainment.

There was some dink from a local radio station who made some announcements. He looked like Matthew Broderick, kind of. He really sucked, but I thought to myself, man, I wish I was born with a radio-ready voice. My voice is nasal and naturally pretty quiet, so I always feel like I'm straining to speak above a mumble. What the crap. Anyway, this is the kind of stuff I was thinking about in the interminable wait for the show.

Then, suddenly, Derringer. Tom said “watch, I’ll bet you he’s a Christian rocker now or something.” And, as Rick Derringer hit the stage in the IBM plant, the drop ceiling a mere six inches from the top of his head, a monogrammed towel hung near his amp, his hair looking perfect—he looked a bit like a shorter John Voight, to tell you the truth—and a gold crucifix dangled conspicuously down the front his shirt, I knew that Tom's premonition was correct. It was gonna be Christian rock.

Man, I’ll tell you what—Derringer wasn’t in any rush to get to the hits. He played one Christian rocker after another, the stoic audience patiently resting on their orthopedic equipment, waiting for Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo, aka The Big Song.

But before he played The Big Song, Rick Derringer announced that he was going to play the state song of Ohio. It turns out that the state song of Ohio is Hang on Sloopy, and Derringer was in the McCoys, who did this in 1965. Wow! Suddenly, everything was different. Man, I love Hang On Sloopy, you know?

Now, when I was a kid, my parents mysteriously had a copy of Heartland Music’s “Fun Rock” collection:

Which was 4 LPs of awesome songs like Yakety Yak and Purple People Eater and Sugar Sugar and stuff. Also on this collection was Hang On Sloopy. I couldn't get enough of that tune. Seriously. I played it all the time. It's still one of my favorites, and probably the best Louie Louie rip the world has ever known.

I remember it well, because for a really long time I thought that they were singing “Hang on Snoopy,” which made sense, right? But then I realized it was “Sloopy,” and I didn’t know what that was. I mean, are there any girls named Sloopy out there? It was goddamn weird. But I used to like that song a lot.

After Sloopy ended, Derringer played The Big Song and everyone left. We left too.

I told Greg about how I grew up with Hang On Sloopy and he said “Hell yeah, man! Derringer fucking rules! Let’s go get some beef jerky! Hot damn!”

Later on, I looked up some stuff on Rick Derringer, and it turns out he also worked on Weird Al Yankovic albums. Which, I guess, means that he had a fairly odd career arc, right? One Hit Wonder to Promising Blues Rocker to Weird All Cohort to Christian Music Guy.

But the funniest thing about the whole experience was that, after having seen Rick Derringer perform Hang On Sloopy, I felt mostly like I’d run into someone I’d gone to Kindergarten with or something. Like we used to be friends, and I hadn’t thought about them for decades, and they looked a lot different than I thought they'd end up looking. It’s a strange feeling.