So I’m sitting in the car outside the grocery store, eating ripple-style potato chips right out of the bag and washing them down with a local soft-drink favorite called Cheerwine, as I listen to this one. I am turning up the bag and giving it that little tap so the crumbs will all avalanche at once into my mouth when I suddenly detect this looming presence next to my window. I turn—just slightly, mind you-to see who it is, and all the crumbs, swear to God, go right past my collar, down my neck.
The Supersuckers sound great when you’ve poured little greasy granules of salt and deep-fried starch down your shirt: unwashed chest hair music, let’s call it. This means that the drums slam and the guitars lurch and the vocals yowl. I will not be the first to say that this is as fine as bar band music gets, which may be reason enough for some of you to go ahead and agree: This is the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.
But I’d offer further evidence than that. The Supersuckers’ devil-worshippin’, booze-swillin’, drug-stabbin’ point of view strikes a chord, let us say, with a certain class of knuckle-dragging nitwits who miss the irony. (Check the cover of this CD, btw, for one of the finest examples of ironic r&r mythmaking you’ll ever see. In a series of cartoons, the Supersuckers sell their souls to Satan and reap that deal’s benefits: cocaine, pills, women, and key lime pie.) Dumb people will love this,too, in the same way they loved KISS: without getting the joke. And when everyone can enjoy it—dumb folks and smart—gee, what a wonderful world it will be.
Which gets us back to the looming presence. It turns out to be this plumber, Boyd, who just last week snaked my pipes and told me about his life. He has recently suffered a number of ignominious setbacks on the playing fields of romantic love and, I deduce from the Bud Light box under his arm, has thus stopped by the Winn Dixie for a twelve-pack of well-deserved liquid stupidity. The muscle and joie de thrash of this CD had urged him over (he is smacking my car’s roof in something sort of like time with the songs), but now the lyrics have yanked him in: “Don’t know if I’ll ever learn, / Can’t wait till I get my turn/ To burn in eternal hell fire,” e.g. He grabs the package to read over the song titles: “Hot Rod Rally,” “Ron’s Got the Cocaine,” “How to Maximize Your Kill Count,” “Beat to Shit,” and the delightful “She’s My Bitch.”
“Yes,” shouts Boyd, meaning that he agrees with the Supersuckers’ white trash ethos without quite comprehending the aesthetic distancing we ironic college-boy types really dig.
“Golly,” I think, “this is quite an example of multivalent audience response.”
So, later, we drive down into Lynch’s Woods and park at the Girl Scout weekend campground and Boyd hollers, “Crank it, dude.” We hit the skip button for the Supersuckers’ lame version of the Rolling Stones’ lame “Before They Make Me Run” (lame lead vocals by the usually un-lame Steve Earle), but repeat their cover of Ice Cube’s “Dead Homiez” three or four or eighteen times before its charm starts wearing off, and knock back the half case before they get warm. We set the empties up on a stump and fire away with this thrity-eight Boyd keeps tucked into his waistband for just such emergencies. I shoot ironically. Boyd has his own agenda.