Stupid Tuesday questions, Del Monte edition


Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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87 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Uh…”peach” is sometimes used to refer in general to an attractive female, and sometimes specifically to her booty.

    I have no idea if this is the “hidden” meaning of the song, but I will quote at length from wikipedia:


    The lyrics of “Peaches” discuss a man moving to the country to eat vast quantities of canned peaches at no cost to him. Briefly mentioned is the hard-working American man who cans the peaches in a factory downtown. The narrator also speculates that a finger sized hole in a singular peach may hold an ideal hiding spot for an ant. He then warns the listener; “Look out!” he calls. There’s a finite number of free peaches for him. Luckily, that number is in the millions.

    Song meaning

    Lead singer Chris Ballew has stated that he wrote “Peaches” about a girl he once had a crush on. He allegedly wrote this song after sitting under a peach tree she had in her yard while waiting for her to arrive, to finally let her know that he liked her.[4]

    Music video

    The music video features the band performing the song in an orchard filled with trees growing peach cans. During the song’s instrumental break, the band is attacked by a group of ninjas attempting to capture them, whom they fight for the remainder of the video and eventually defeat.

    You know, I never really cared about this song…but that wikipedia description is making me kind of love it.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The Presidents Of The United States Of America excelled at nonsense songs that sound like they’ve got a naughty second interpretation.

    “Kitty”, for example, has this whole double entendre thing going on and you’re *SURE* that “kitty on my foot and I wanna touch it!” has this double meaning that would totally get you in trouble. *THUMP THUMP THUMP* “What are you listening to in there?” “Nothing mom! It’s just a song about a cat!”

    See? Nobody would believe that. But wouldn’t you know it, it’s a song about a cat. That’s it.

    “Lump” is my most hated song. From what I’ve heard, it was nothing more than the writer wanting to put all of his favorite words in a song. It *FEELS* naughty, though.

    So when we come to “Peaches” the immediate implication is T.S. Eliot and whether the mermaids will sing to him. Hell, there’s the part of the song that one would seriously think was building to something:
    Take a little nap where the roots all twist
    Squished a rotten peach in my fist
    And dreamed about you, woman,
    I poked my finger down inside
    Make a little room for an ant to hide


    But then they finish up:
    Nature’s candy in my hand or can or a pie


    To answer your question, I still think that Will Smith’s rap about the Men In Black that was looped over a Weird Al-esque reinterpretation of “Forget Me Nots”. That song is just mind-bogglingly dumb *AND* it uses a mind-bogglingly catchy disco hook.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Of course, neither “candy” nor “can” nor “pie” have ever had more than one meaning….Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Generally, though, such is in service to something worth thumping the door about.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m not sure I see the distinction you are drawing…is the Squeeze Box an accordion?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Yeah, I wanted to work “Squeezebox” and “Pictures of Lily” into the post but couldn’t do it elegantly.


      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Why Don’t We Do it in the Road is about playing catch.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        This is a longstanding blues tradition. It’s fairly amazing listening to blues songs from the 20s for this reason- you know he’s not really talking about driving her little car, having some of her pie, drilling for oil on her land, or her fondness for his 12 inch record of the band that plays the blues. Which brings us to surely one of the dumbest songs ever written, My Ding-a-ling by Dave Bartholomew. That song makes Peaches sound like the Leonard Cohen lyrically.

        (We shouldn’t discuss some of the songs my band has written!)Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Somebody around here did a post on the lyrical genius of Judge Dread…Report

    • I have heard it said that “Lump” is about Courtney Love. I considered titling this post “Courtney Love edition.”

      It may shock you to learn that this interpretation of “Peaches” does not endear it to me much.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I suppose one could draw distinctions between “pleasantly dumb” and “aggressively dumb” where “pleasantly dumb” invites you to be dumb with the song while “aggressively dumb” just goes straight to the making you dumber whether or not you’re inclined to play along or not.

        I had always put “Peaches” in the “pleasantly dumb” category (next to “Kitty”, for the record) while “Lump” was in the “aggressively dumb” one.

        I can totally see why someone would sort them differently, though. Dumb can reach critical mass pretty quickly.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” was indeed very stupid but I submit that you must grant that it is a very pleasantly melodic song. I never understood what the fish they were singing about but I loved the song, the tune and the harmonic singing. Also see God Shuffled his Feet, easily my favorite Crash Test Dummies song.

    Since I adore peaches (literal peaches only you gross hetero pervs) I always sort of nodded along to the song. I also would enjoy eating millions of quality free peaches.

    I’m conflicted about Pearl Jam. The song Jeremy is kind of powerful and it is additionally just as salient today as it was when it’s written. Perhaps, in the era of Sandy Hook, it’s even more salient than ever. That said there was a fad when I was in school of singing this song’s title line whenever I answered a question in school; my given name is Jeremie. This couples with an earlier phenomenon of my sailing pals being fond of singing that wretched “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” song periodically when I was around led me to a strange impression that there was some cadre of singers in the US who had it in for me.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    As Glyph kind of says above, when you here “peaches” in pop music, know that it generally is a euphemism about lady parts. (It is not coincidental that you almost always have a reference to “eating a…” in these songs.)

    My pitches for the dumbest song will always pale in comparison to this (or this).Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Apropos of not really much, i counter Peaches with Peaches and Herb


    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I can think of several “Peaches”-related songs (Stranglers and, um, Peaches), but Beck’s “Peaches & Cream” is the only one even remotely SFW.Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot says:

      Maybe everyone in the world already knows this, but I wanted to point out that Peaches & Herb’s Herb these days makes a living as a firearm-packing federal marshal. I would be happy to provide proof to anyone who needs it.

      I believe that there have been several Peacheses, like Lassies. I do not know if any of them are sworn officers of the law.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    1. Perhaps it was very clever dada/performance art. Maybe the band asked themselves “What is the stupidest song we can write and turn into a mega-hit and laugh all the way to the bank?” Occam’s razor said it was a novelty song that will be inexplicable to future generations. I often feel the same way about much pop music in the era from after Buddy Holly died until the Beatles came around.

    2. Form 10-K filings for the SEC.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    My default assumption is that if something in a pop song makes no sense it’s about either sex or drugs.Report

  8. Avatar johanna says:

    Aqua’s Barbie Girl – Ugh. Even more than just that song being stupidly disturbing, was watching a 7 to 9 year old girl performing to it in a skating competition.

    Russell is Peaches up there with Sex Dwarf?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      The Doc has been inadvertently giving us the information we need to musically destroy him.


      1. The Humpty Dance
      2. Sex Dwarf
      3. Peaches
      4. Anything by Rush
      5. ?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      IIRC that was a song that was supposed to be satirical but the satire went over everyone’s heads except Mattel HQ. We read a case about Mattel suing Aqua and their record label for trademark violation.Report

    • Nothing, but nothing is in the same league as “Sex Dwarf.” “Peaches” sounds like a Brandenburg Concerto compared to “Sex Dwarf.” “Sex Dwarf”: music :: unprocessed sewage: haute cuisine. I would rather listen to Sarah Palin pontificate about foreign policy in badly-rhymed couplets than listen to “Sex Dwarf.”

      (I may not really mean that last one.)Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    Presidents of the United States of America were pretty up front about the fact that they were just goofing off and having fun. They were explicitly not trying to make serious music. Hell, their instruments didn’t have all of their strings. I think they saw themselves as the antidote to rock that was starting to take itself way too seriously and always being about something, and something serious.

    And “Peaches” is about a girl.

    I’m not sure what the dumbest song topic would be, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it is there are several songs about it from 1966 through 1972, written while the songwriter was unbelievably high.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Worse than puns? or writing songs about math?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:


      I rather enjoy the Presidents precisely because it’s basically all goofy nonsense. If you want depth, that’s what your Radiohead is for. If you’re going to be mainly drinking beer with your friends, the Presidents are kind of fun to have on.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Listen to the whole album some time. They had nowhere near enough material for it. The songs repeat lyrics over and over; some of them repeat lyrics from the other songs. Lyrically, you’d have trouble singling out the worst song on the album, because they’re across-the-board gibberish.Report

  10. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    This may shed some light on the question.

    Chris Ballew currently is part of a band called Casper Baby Pants, who write & perform kids songs and are quite popular out here in Seattle.

    Also, the name for Presidents of The United States was an onstage joke that stuck (the band was doing a gig one night & kept introducing themselves during the set with different goofy band names. PUSA got the best reaction from the audience).

    In short, they have always been quite silly.Report

  11. Avatar Patrick says:

    Wait, people don’t like “Jane Says”?Report

    • I have read various different diatribes about its lameness, particularly the live version.

      I disagree with said diatribes.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I wondered about that too. That’s like their best-known song!Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

      That was my response. It might not be “3 Days,” but it is still one of my favorites.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “Three Days” is definitely the peak of that album (and their career), but the succeeding track, “Then She Did” is almost as good…and then closing the album out with “Classic Girl”…

        ….pity about ALSO placing the totally annoying “Of Course” on that side. I like to pretend that it doesn’t exist.Report

  12. Avatar Kim says:

    “What is the single dumbest thing you can think of to write a song about?”

    Forest goats. But man did that song win awards!

    So maybe I’ll try again later.Report

  13. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    OK, you guys are all wrong. Russell, you omit the key line in the song, which is that the peaches come from a can. They were put there by a man, in a factory downtown. This glaring discontinuity with the actual source of peaches (namely, a tree) invites the listener to contrast sterile and metallic civilization with the natural joy and pleasure of a peach. Only when peaches have been liberated from their commercialized and constrained containers can they truly be enjoyed. In expressing this sentiment, the Presidents of the United States of America are a worthy heir to Thoreau, Wendell Berry, and the Unabomber.Report

  14. Avatar dhex says:

    milkshake by kelis. it’s really dumb. but it’s also an awesome summer song (the base is amaaaaaazing in a loud environment), so i’m torn.

    i mean pretty much any black metal is pretty dumb (out of context), but it’s hard to find songs that, on their face, aren’t pretty stupid if you yank out the lyrics from their context.


    the vocal delivery is dumb, the lyrics are probably dumb (something about the slumber of the end of the world i think) but the song completely rips.

    see also: lightning bolt, cannabis corpse (esp. “blunted at birth”), etcReport

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      There might be something to a theory that most great summertime songs are dumb. I’m thinking of a whole raft of my favorite summertime songs and most of them have fairly limited art to ’em.Report

  15. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I was surprised to learn that a lot of bands that I listened to in high school like the Dave Matthews Band are technically still around. They don’t get much play but they still tour.Report

  16. Avatar Damon says:

    I always liked the Presidents. “Lump” the best, but I did like “Peaches”.

    In answer to 2, even though I think it’s stupid, I do enjoy Liam Lynch’s “My United States”.Report

  17. Avatar Pinky says:

    Rock Lobster – The B-52’s

    Not only are the lyrics ridiculous, but the lead singer’s delivery makes it sound like he thinks they’re really important, like they could save a secret agent’s life or something.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

      Serious is not a term that ever comes to my mind when I am thinking about the B-52s.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      “Rock Lobster” rules.

      It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.Report

    • WHAT!?!?!?!?

      You DARE disparage the B-52s!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU and I, sir, ARE GOING TO HAVE WORDS!!!!

      (Well, not really. You’re perfectly entitled to hate them. But they’re pretty much my favorite band of all time.)

      I will politely tell you that Fred Schneider’s sprechgesang vocal stylings are pretty much never meant to be taken seriously. (You only need to hear him sing “Detour Through Your Mind” to have that realization permanently seared into your brain.) The B-52s are almost always being gloriously, wonderfully silly.

      In fact, Fred is barely featured in “Deadbeat Club,” which is about as serious as they get. It’s all about the band’s early days, and has a melancholy air because a founding member of the band was (singer) Cindy Wilson’s older brother Ricky, who died of AIDS. They obviously couldn’t leave Fred out entirely of a song about the band, but his style isn’t serious enough for the song’s content to be used much.Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot says:

      As they say in the army, big disagree here, sir. The B-52s knew exactly what they were doing.

      Some friends of mine opened for the B-52s on tour and supplemented their meager guarantees by furtively eating from the B-52s’ deli plates while the headliners were onstage. The night they got caught, Fred Schneider’s voice rang out from behind them, sounding exactly the way he always does. “Hey, that’s not your salami! Put it down!”Report

  18. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    I’m not sure if Joe Wecker’s “Descramble” is transcendently brilliant or transcendently dumb. The song is the algorithm to remove DVD content encryption, set to music. I couldn’t find a youtube video of it, but here are its lyrics

    • Avatar Kim says:

      it’s… both.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I perhaps don’t need to tell you specifically, but the point was not to make a great song – it was to illustrate that explaining how to do something in song (protected by the first amendment) is fundamentally no different from explaining how to do something in a compilable programming language (an act of illicit explanation under the DMCA).Report

  19. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    Ultimately, whatever the stupidest theme for a song we come up with here, Frank Zappa has recorded a song about something stupider.Report

  20. Avatar Murali says:

    And “I am the Walrus” is supposed to make sense? Or for that matter what about “Yellow Submarine”. There is a fine and well established tradition of having completely nonsensical or inane lyrics.Report