Matt Brandjord’s Off the Beaten Path Favorites

SUSAN BRANDJORD | PHOTO COURTESY
My dad proudly wearing a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers T-shirt and holding his Moon Martin ‘Escape From Damnation’ LP.

Let me first start off by saying I love my dad, and I promise he does have good music taste.

Great music taste, even. We regularly have music trivia phone calls and update each other on music happenings and tour dates of our mutual favorite bands.

However, somewhat unfortunately, there is just a goofy part of him that gravitates toward strange songs that most people overlook. Maybe it’s because he grew up in the ’70s, but who knows?

Half the fun of these songs, though, is the grin on his face when he mentions or plays one of them.

‘No Anchovies, Please’ – J. Geils Band

I’m sure you are thinking, “J. Geils Band? Well, they’re good. This can’t be THAT weird.”

Well that, dear readers, is where you are wrong.

If you ever get in a conversation with my dad on music, it is only a matter of time before he will bring up, “No Anchovies, Please.” Sometimes he even blurts out, “That’s not a bowling ball, THAT’S MY WIFE!” out of the blue, and it is literally the best, most hilarious thing to me.

So, what is this song about?

Well, it isn’t really a song at all, more of a story with sound effects and saxophone music in the background.

Hidden in the J. Geils Band’s popular album “Love Stinks,” this tale of mad science, an old married couple and unpopular food will have you wondering what you just spent your last two minutes and 42 seconds listening to.

It also may strangely fill you with delight and help lighten your mood. Only one way to find out …

‘Wildwood Weed’ – Jim Stafford

This comedic country song is not to be confused with the Civil War-era song, “Wildwood Flower,” that has been covered by Johnny Cash.

Instead, Stafford tells the story of two hillbillies who happen upon a weed growing in the ditch that has strange effects on them.

The narrator’s brother goes so crazy that he ends up singing whilst naked on a windmill, which is my dad’s favorite part. The brothers eagerly collect the weed and begin to clean and dry it, so it can be smoked in their corncob pipes, and the narrator exclaims, “We thought it was kinda handy. Take a trip without ever even leaving the farm.”

I won’t give away the humorous ending, but I am sure you can all guess what the ditch weed really was. If you didn’t know my dad had a sense of humor, now you do.

‘Rolene’ – Moon Martin

Moon Martin doesn’t seem to ring any bells? Well, that isn’t surprising.

This is actually a pretty good song and has no form of humor in it at all. Martin sounds a little like Tom Petty as he pleads with a phone operator to connect him with the love of his life, “Rolene.”

This was always a record of my dad’s that I would tease him about — until I listened to it and actually kind of liked it.

In my defense, wouldn’t you laugh at an album with a guy on the front that looks like he’s trying to be either John Denver or Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and failing at both?

Not only that, but via the magic of ’70s photography, he is being held captive by tinfoil covered mannequins with glowing red eyes that are supposedly “aliens.”

The whole album is enjoyable, honestly. With other tracks such as “She Made a Fool of You” and “I Got a Reason,” I promise it is worth a listen, especially if you’re still missing Tom Petty like I am.

‘Grandpa Got Runned Over By A John Deere’ – Cledus T. Judd

You may know Cledus T. Judd from his collaboration with Toby Keith, “How Do You Milk A Cow?” But if you don’t, it’s not a huge surprise.

A unique and hilarious take on the Christmas classic, this version spends most of its time talking about how the surviving family find out what a terrible person Grandpa was.

The chorus goes: “Grandpa got runned over by a John Deere, a walking home from the Moose Lodge Christmas Eve. You can say there’s no such thing as Santa, but after suing John Deere, I believe!”

Complete with a joke about bribing the jury, and an especially humorous pronunciation of “neighbors,” this song will have you laughing even if you’re partial to John Deere tractors.

‘Jim Dandy’ – Black Oak Arkansas

If you are a fan of the movie “Dazed and Confused,” you may be familiar with this track.

While Black Oak Arkansas didn’t receive as great of commercial success as their contemporaries Lynyrd Skynrd or the Allman Brothers, they amassed a sizable cult following.

“Jim Dandy” is a cover of a R&B classic, “Jim Dandy to the Rescue,” and was their most successful song.

A song that fits the antics of lead singer “Big Jim Dandy” Mangrum, as it talks about “coming to the rescue” of lonely women everywhere.

‘455 Rocket’ – Kathy Mattea

The fact that my dad is big into classic cars makes this song no surprise.

It’s a song about a woman who challenges the men in drag races with a beat-up Oldsmobile.

Mattea is definitely a country artist, but also has a blues edge to her phrasing that makes this song confident and cool. Another song that you probably haven’t heard of, but it’s worth a listen.

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