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Jun 11

Camper Van Beethoven: “We’re a Bad Trip”

Camper Van Beethoven II & III

Released during the Great Red & Black Ink Shortage of 1986.

Play

After a fun but tiring time on the aforementioned pioneer camping field trip, I decided to figure out an appropriate song to follow it up with. And although I can’t think of too many great songs about camping, there’s always Camper Van Beethoven! And their great and very funny song, “We’re a Bad Trip,” from their 1986 album, Camper Van Beethoven II & III, is one of my favorites — a sharp poke at pomposity, it’s a natural followup to their semi-hit, “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” from their debut album the year before. While the song displays their sense of humor well (“You know you really shouldn’t take yourself so seriously/If you want to know why, it’s ’cause no one else does” or “Answered the phone and said you didn’t live here anymore, and it was your mom, yeah it was your mom”), it doesn’t necessarily show off the eclectic, multicultural influences that showed up in their music over the course of their career — it’s more just a straight-ahead garage rock song with a bit of a Southern-rock-style guitar showdown in the middle. But no matter, “We’re a Bad Trip” is a fun song, and the deadpan delivery of David Lowery (later put to great use as well when he formed the band Cracker) is just right for it.

This version is now a bonus track on the CD release, but it’s the original version that I know and love from the vinyl album. The CD apparently replaces its original position on the album with a more sped-up version, but in my opinion, the original, slightly more laid-back-stoner groove fits the song better.

Other CVB Reselections: “Pictures of Matchstick Men

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