Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I No Longer Hate Babies*

OK, I promised some nonsense, so here it is. This is the first song I ever had played on the radio. WUTK's "New Airwaves" played it on the Outhouse Tapes** at midnight one Sunday/Monday back in the early 80's. I think it might have been the second Outhouse Tapes ever (I'm certain I have an aircheck somewhere) following an appearance by Smokin' Dave the week earlier (proud company to be in). I danced madly about the room in joy when it aired.

**The Outhouse Tapes on "New Airwaves" featured local artists.

OK, "why does he hate babies?", you might be asking. Let's step into the wayback machine, all the way back to the summer of 1981...

The Whittle Corporation is somewhat legendary among a certain culture of Knoxvillians - slackers, musicians, artists, writers, and others of little or no account. Before there was Whittle, there was the 13-30 Corporation, so named because the target audience for their business fell within that age range (hmm, sounds more like the dating habits of some triple initialed folks I know, but I digress). 13-30 had a warehouse out on Louisville Rd. in Blount County where several manual assembly lines staffed with the afore-mentioned slackers stuffed samples of various products (soaps, lotions, cookies, deodorant, etc) into little cardboard boxes that were distributed to incoming college students each fall across the USA. Each line had a quota to meet each day, and if you met it early you could go home, shoot hoops on the basketball goal mounted on a forklift, or drink Mad Dog behind the building, and still get paid for the full day. Sweet.

I worked there in the summer of 1981. When 1982 rolled around I got a job in the early spring with the Worlds Fair, running the poor excuse for a waterslide. Honestly, some rolls of plastic and a garden hose could have made a more exciting waterslide. While there were some benefits to working there (hot international and tourist girls) parking was a bitch and the pay and hours sucked. Towards the end of the school year I showed back up at 13-30 and asked for a job. Since I had a years experience, I got put "in charge" of a line, which basically meant that, instead of stuffing stuff in the boxes, I stuffed the full boxes into bigger boxes and taped them shut. Also, I kept up with the count that determined when we could go home.

Part way through the year my line got a new product line - a sample box directed towards expectant parents.

Now, there had been some nasty stuff sometimes included in the regular boxes (Jean Nate body splash was one particularly odiferous concoction that often leaked from its little vinyl pouches - we called it Jean Nasty) but almost every damn product in the baby box was nasty, cumbersome, or otherwise annoying. Special shoutouts in the song go to Johnson's Baby Bath (blue bottle), talcum powder, cornstarch, Johnson's Baby Lotion (pink bottle), Johnson's Baby Shampoo (yellow bottle), and antiseptic pre-moistened towelettes, all of which tended to leak their sticky, smelly contents into the boxes. By the time they reached my end of the line they had congealed into a primordial swamp of baby components that probably only needed a lightning strike to bring forth infant life (that is how babies are made, right? I never believed that cabbage patch story).

So, I wrote a song about it. Wanna hear it? Here it is: Kevin and the K-Tels-I Hate Babies

Technical notes: Recorded on a Teac two-track reel to reel with a Silvertone lipstick pickup guitar, a Mattel Synsonics drum machine, and some old cheap microphone.

* I have two beautiful daughters that are my joy and reason for living.

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Anonymous Nitin said...

Well done! It actually sounds as if the singer is distracted by taking care of a baby as he sings. Adds a sense of angst-ridden realism. Reminded me of Robert Crumb's art. Aesthetically disruptive, yet honest and valid.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Smootz said...

ok, the statute of limitations has probably run by now, so...

did you really have that baby strapped to a Marshall stack to make it cry?

3:08 PM  
Blogger spinetingler said...

Fender Twin.

3:12 PM  

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