Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back From the Dead

I received an email from a good friend this morning informing me of some HUGE concert news. On Friday 4/8 (as in, mere days from today), there is going to be a concert at Irving Plaza in NYC and that concert will showcase the melodic voices of 1990s Irish bad boys House of Pain.

We all know that my music taste is “special” (awful or amazing, depending on who you are), but we can all agree that back in 1992-1993, “Jump Around” was a huge hit. They ragged on cops for eating donuts! They featured tennis enfant terrible John McEnroe in a rap song! The referenced a story from the New Testament! (That story is the Prodigal Son from the book of Luke. I gotta give props to the book of Luke—as religious texts go, it’s a real page-turner. Good enough to be source material for the musical “Godspell.”) “Jump Around” was crazy catchy, all over the airwaves, and a favorite song of my older sister’s then-boyfriend, which made it the coolest song ever. He would come pick her up for dates and I would eagerly answer the door. The brim of his baseball hat was so thoroughly bent that I couldn’t even see his eyes. During the year of 1993 and in my eight-grade girl brain, a brim so bent that it nearly obscured your entire face was the mark of coolness.

House of Pain was all about Irish pride, which appealed to me and many of my Boston-based friends. Plus, many of us mistakenly thought DJ Lethal, Danny Boy, and Everlast were from Boston. Put a dude in a Celtics jersey for a few promotional photos and stupid kids will automatically think he’s a Boston-bred white rapper. Turns out they’re all from Orange County, CA and DJ Lethal is Latvian, not Irish. No matter—I bought all three of their albums. Yes, there were three. No, they didn’t simply hang it up after that first album. They kept plugging for far too long and I was probably the only loser buying their albums. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

House of Pain (1992)

The album everybody knows. Includes hit single “Jump Around” and underrated song “Put On Your Shit Kickers,” which was played on a loop at my house in 1993, much to the dismay of my sweet parents. The lyrics of “Put On Your Shit Kickers” include a laundry-list of Irish-American iconography (corned beef & cabbage, claddagh rings, Celtic crosses). I quoted this song in a paper for my college Irish history class. The professor loved it. House of Pain is an important voice in academia!

Same As It Ever Was (1994)

This was “popular” (that is, my friend Katie and I listened to it) during the summer after my freshman year in high school. “On Point” and “Word is Bond” are strong tracks from this one. And everybody loves an album cover that is an action-shot of a dude getting punched in the face! (Just me?)

Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again (1996)

Now THIS album was a travesty. Not even the family friendly cover image could make up for the overall spookiness of the music. The HOP boys used creepy sound-effects all over this album in an effort to sound tough that backfired and seemed oddly like a 1930s radio show. I’m fairly sure that I was the ONLY person who (1) bought this album, and (2) had a poster of this album’s cover in my bedroom as a teen. It’s a sad state of affairs when you are actively TRYING to enjoy awful music because you believe in the band. It was during this era that my high school friend Connor (C Note!) bought me a House of Pain bumper sticker for by beloved Nissan Altima. It was the “Shamrocks & Shenanigans” crest from House of Pain’s glory days. I put it on the back bumper of my car with pride, just down from the “Beastie Boys” bumper sticker. Sadly, the House of Pain bumper sticker was killed in a tragic rear-ending accident in Cochituate. Bizarrely enough, that three inch square was somehow the ONLY spot on my entire back bumper that was dinged up in that accident. You were gone too soon, sweet Shamrocks & Shenanigans sticker. Gone too soon.

Tickets for the House of Pain show on Friday are $42 apiece. Yikes. I think I’ll save some money and instead, just replay these three albums in my apartment while wearing a Celtics jersey. Irish #1!

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