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Weekend Discussion Thread: The Show and Music

Troy opines…

Since the news just broke that David Bowie died, it got me thinking about musical references on the show. I’m curious what influence MST3K has had on people’s musical tastes, whether it got them into a band they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, or caused ! them to suddenly understand a reference years later when they finally heard the tune the bots were referencing.
For me, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten into Man or Astroman? without MST3K (it helped that they did a cover of the theme tune), and as an 80s/90s kid (but one who listened religiously to the Doctor Demento show), I missed out on a lot of the references to 70’s music until I was away at college, but oddly, had no trouble picking up the references to Firesign Theater or Tom Lehrer.

I want to even expand this topic further and talk about surprising and hilarious references to your favorite bands or musicians. I immediately think of somebody riffing “LOOK AT THESE HANDS!” (SOMEbody knows his or her Talking Heads) and Tom Servo’s many Tom Waits impressions.


73 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: The Show and Music”

  1. Gobi says:

    new cornjob:
    laurie anderson’s “home of the brave:”

    some video-art right from the heart of the eighties! a slight bit dated… but at the time, was pretty innovative stuff. more than this, i’d recommend anyone investigating this era of stuff find and watch “swimming to cambodia” as a starter… you will never be more entertained than by one guy sitting at a desk talking at you for am hour-and-a-half…

    going back a bit to laurie and “HOTB”… it is quite a little psychological MF, if you pay attention. give it a try, and see if it doesn’t apply to what you think of once in a while today…

    Swimming to Cambodia is a little tough to watch these days, knowing that he later committed suicide by drowning.


  2. mthead says:

    I don’t think EricJ has been properly brainwashed.


  3. Danzilla "Cornjob" McLargehuge, Student of Kaijuology says:

    Any reference to the Eagles makes me a happy MSTie. They are my number one favorite band, something my dad and I share to this day. He grew up when the band was really hitting it’s stride in the mid 70’s, and sang me the songs to put me to sleep when I was a baby/young child in the 90’s. So any reference to them always puts a smile on my face!

    “Well I’m a runnin’ down the road, tryin’ ta loosin’ my load, I’ve got Coleman Francis on my mind…”


  4. Juice says:

    Two words, from “Danger!! Death Ray” – “Watermelon Man.”

    The first time I heard that riff I laughed so hard I almost choked to death. Still makes me giggle. But for me, one of the revelations of the show was The Replacements. Having missed a decade or two of music (I was busy, all right?) I wasn’t familiar with them. After I starting listening to them a few years ago, so many references were suddenly clear. OMG! I know who Paul Westerberg is now! I understand the “Swamp Diamonds” guitar riff! So many new hours of listening pleasure. Thank you MST3k.


  5. maclen says:

    Dan Cole: Also, there is an episode where a character enters & one of the guys says “Robbie Robertson!”.
    Can anybody remind me of the episode?

    That’s in Space Mutiny. The guy with the cane.
    Watched Teenagers from Outer Space last night, always enjoy the “title songs” for the older characters…

    “it’s the new zoo review..

    “it’s a great day for a White wedding”

    and etc…


  6. Mike M. says:

    I rarely see this musical reference mentioned, but there’s a really neat one in the movie “Laserblast”. At some point late in the movie, one of the alien characters has their back to the camera while holding something like a guitar, and Servo breaks into “Goin’ Home” buy Ten Years After (as made famous in the movie “Woodstock”), complete with nonsensical lyrics mocking singer/guitarist Alvin Lee. My dad is one of the world’s biggest Alvin Lee fans, so this little moment absolutely floored us both when we both saw it for the first time. He used to give me **** for liking that show so much, but that little joke instantly changed his tune, so to speak. Thanks, MST!


  7. John Hanna says:

    Off topic: has an article today about ‘Manos The Hands Of Fate’. They interview Jackey Neyman Jones, the little girl from the film about her experience making it.


  8. Keith in WI says:

    Many Rush references

    “He died listening to Rush…2112” – not sure on this one
    “Serum, the new album from Rush” – San Francisco International
    “Hey it’s the band Rush!” – Alien from L.A.
    “Sh kind of looks like Geddy Lee..” – again not sure


    “Weasels ripped my flesh! RZZZZ” – The Killer Shrews

    And of course, “Watermelon Man!”


  9. AlbuquerqueTurkey says:

    I had never heard of Annie Sprinkle except for riffs in Space Mutiny and the 21st Century Calling short. I looked up who she was, and upon discovering what her “Art” was, decided not to pursue that anymore – apparently the very definition of TMI.


  10. Bart Fargo-Moorhead says:

    Keith in WI:
    Many Rush references

    “He died listening to Rush…2112”–not sure on this one
    “Serum, the new album from Rush” – San Francisco International
    “Hey it’s the band Rush!” – Alien from L.A.
    “Sh kind of looks like Geddy Lee..” – again not sure


    “Weasels ripped my flesh!RZZZZ”– The Killer Shrews

    And of course, “Watermelon Man!”

    “He died listening to Rush” was from “Operation Double 007”, while “She looks like Geddy Lee” is from “Secret Agent Super Dragon”.


  11. Cornjob says:

    “Looks like Trent Reznor ran out of gas. Poor guy”, from Laserblast. I’m a big Nine Inch Nails fan, and this riff really cracked me up.

    “Paul Simon’s backyard bar-b-q’s are getting out of hand.”, from The Leech Woman.

    There is an odd noise in Werewolf (I think) that prompted a riffer to start singing Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”. Perfect timing.

    I recall there was a real visceral dislike of Paula Cole in the last season or two. I can’t say I liked her music, but it didn’t bug me as much as someone in the writer’s room.


  12. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock says:

    Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album inspired the silhouettes.


  13. Murdock Hauser says:

    “Looks like Trent Reznor ran out of gas. Poor guy”, from Laserblast. I’m a big Nine Inch Nails fan, and this riff really cracked me up.

    Me, too. :laugh:


  14. Mike says:

    Flying Saucers Over Oz:
    An INCREDIBLY obscure reference I finally got when I stumbled onto the song a couple years ago: From HIRED!, “I may be wonderful but you could be wrong.”It’s a line from an old standard.“You might be wonderful, but I could be wrong…”

    Yes, I know, I know, but I’ve been waiting for AGES for a chance to tell someone about that…

    If I’m not mistaken, the riff is actually a reference to the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers , who were almost certainly themselves (or rather Kaufman and Ryskind, who wrote the stage play) referencing the standard. The line is delivered by Groucho to Chico: “I may be wonderful, but I think you’re wrong, Ravelli.”


  15. Derek says:

    Oh man, so many Tom Waits references. I got in to Tom about 7 years ago and I didn’t realize just how often they reference his stuff! I recently caught one with Servo singing “Diamonds on my Windshield”, it was one of the secret agent movies. That is an obscure reference.


  16. Cornjob says:

    Oh and, “I am Iron Man.”


  17. leavethebronx says:

    As a classical musician, I love all the obscure 20th-century composer name drops, especially from Tom and Mike. Elliot Carter, Edgar Varese, it’s usually in connection with bizarro-world music or “horror” themes.


  18. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock says:

    Let’s sing something from Pearl Jam! – Manos
    I can see Pearl Jam – The Space Children’s short Century 21 Calling (what an underrated episode! It’s so good!)


  19. skierpete says:

    I can’t say MST3K ever got me to listen to any bands I never listened to before. I’ve always had a pretty broad taste in music, so usually enjoy most of the music reference jokes.

    However, I have to say that there was one music joke in an episode that I only recently got.

    When the Gaurdians of the Galaxy movie came out, I picked up the soundtrack and thought it was great. There’s a song on there called “I’m not in Love” by 10cc. Well, in the middle of the song, there’s this instrumental part where there’s this mumbling whispers in the background, and even though I’d heard the song plenty of times in my life, I had never realized what was being said…it’s a low whisper repeating “Big boys don’t cry, Big boys don’t cry”. (I think prior to this I thought the words were “get lost and quiet, get lost and quiet” – just a matter of never having listened to it with headphones.)

    Sometime after that, I was watching “It lives by Night” and during one part – I don’t remember the exact placement of the joke – one of the bots starts whispering “Big boys don’t cry, big boys don’t cry”. I just totally cracked up, because of course before listening to the GotG soundtrack, I would’ve gotten that joke, even though I knew the song.


  20. skierpete says:

    Dan Cole:
    Maybe this is just a little too obvious but our heroes do live on the SATELLITE OF LOVE, which, as we all know was designed by Lou Reed.

    I was never a big Lou Reed fan, but I love that song and knew it before MST3K, so I have to say one of things that first attracted me to the show was that joke right there in the premise of the show – that they are on the Satellite of Love, and that the song in a way references the show:

    “Satellite’s gone up to the skies
    Things like that drive me out of my mind
    I watched it for a little while
    I love to watch things on TV”

    That level of cleverness that’s just genius.


  21. BC says:

    Pod People is most known for a particular musical sequence, but later on, we’re treated to a great parody of the syndicated show Hearts of Space. I never had access to the show growing up, and had no interest in that style of music. Now I do (though I’m not sure why) and the episode is all the funnier because of it. It’s a perfect parody in so many ways.


  22. Shrike says:

    I’ve caught a few King Crimson jokes throughout the years but can’t ID the ep’s they were in. As a huge KC fan I always got a great “surprised at riff” laugh out of them.


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