In yesterday’s post, I detailed the wonderful weekend my wife and I had in Philadelphia, celebrating our 40th anniversary.
So I thought I’d bring some closure to it by sharing a song that features Philadelphia in its lyrics. There were lots of great choices:
- Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen
- Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John
- Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas
- South Street by The Orlons
- Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen
- Kids from Philly by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- Fall in Philadelphia by Hall and Oates
- Gonna Fly Now by Bill Conti
- TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) by MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother)
- Philadelphia by Neil Young
- Motownphilly by Boyz II Men
- Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
- Philadelphia Boogie by John Philip Sousa
- Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler & James Taylor
But I decided to feature a song that I had not heard of before, but it was a fun song to listen to, along with a fun video:
The song is Punk Rock Girl, by The Dead Milkmen, a punk rock band formed in 1983 in Philadelphia. Their original lineup consisted of vocalist and keyboardist Rodney Linderman (“Rodney Anonymous”), guitarist and vocalist Joe Genaro (“Joe Jack Talcum”), bassist Dave Schulthise (“Dave Blood”), and drummer Dean Sabatino (“Dean Clean”).
The band distinguished itself in the hardcore punk scene of the early 1980s through its jangly punk sound and sardonic humor delivered with thick Philadelphia accents. The band enjoyed international success on the strength of “Punk Rock Girl“, a single from their 1988 Beelzebubba album which entered into MTV rotation.
The idea behind the song was to create a punk rock nursery rhyme; as such, it is a simple love song, written from the perspective of a sheltered boy dreaming of a rowdy, delinquent girlfriend. Lyrically, it depicts the duo bonding over record-shopping and eating pizza. In addition to the band’s normal lineup, the song also incorporates an accordion. “Punk Rock Girl” makes several pop culture references, from comedian Minnie Pearl to musicians Mojo Nixon and the Beach Boys. It mentions several locations in the band’s hometown of Philadelphia, including the counter-culture shop Zipperhead. The song has been considered one of the first pop-punk hits, as well as a breakthrough for the comedy rock genre.
In keeping with the season, there’s also a Halloween connection to the song, since part of it was filmed at the Eastern State Penitentiary. ESP (photo at top of post) was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious lawbreakers, including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. Given its natural creepiness, it’s no surprise that it is turned into a haunted house for the Halloween season.