Thing a Week 37 – Rock and Roll Boy

June 16th, 2006

I went trolling for some interesting audio this week over at the Internet Archive – frankly, I’m a little sick of writing songs, and I wanted to flush out the system with a found audio thingie. I found this treasure trove, a collection of kids on cassette in the public domain (if you’ve never been to the Internet Archive, you should check it out – it’s non-profit with an enormous library of, like, everything). It brought back fond memories of yelling nonsense into the grill of a 40-pound tape recorder with a record button you had to lean on and mash down with your whole hand. And I was blown away by six-year-old Justin’s “Rock and Roll Boy,” which begins with the most fantastic opening lines in the history of rock and roll.

So I wrote a song around Justin’s vocals. He wasn’t thoughtful enough to provide a third verse or a bridge, and he wandered a bit in terms of key, so I had to improvise. But I really think he had an actual song in his head. Which is more than I can say for myself some weeks…

Rock and Roll Boy

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29 Responses to “Thing a Week 37 – Rock and Roll Boy”

  1. Steve C. says:

    This song and the oddity of the source material wins in so many random ways. I will be proud to say I was there when the internet hit its bizarre apex.

    However, if it turns out that Rock And Roll Boy grew up to be Jason Mraz or some other equally insincere, heartless singer-songwriter, I will be crushed.

  2. Ian says:

    Dude.. sweet key changes! After listening to the source I’m just floored. Somewhere on Planet Earth little Justin is gonna be one happy guy.

  3. Alex says:

    It would be absolutely hilarious if the kid was older now and just happened to come upon this page and heard this song, I’d love to see the look on his face.

  4. Andrine says:

    I’d say that the kid has potential. Can we please have the lyrics? It’s beautifully orchestrated, but sort of hard to understand.

  5. Josh says:

    Yes!! This is fantastic! I used to do that all the time. The best thing when I was a kid, was to record the family drunks partying. I wish I still had some of those old boombox recordings. I even remember a recordable 8 track tape we played with.

    I would also record music from my Fisher Price record player onto a tape that was in the recorder and D.J. No wires! Air quality recording.

    Good times!!

  6. Alex Holden says:

    Andrine: to get the lyrics of any of JC’s songs, go to the Songs page and click on the info link next to the name of the song.

  7. Jeremy Henty says:

    This proves Tom Lehrer was right when he referred to “Rock and Roll … and other children’s music”! Seriously, this was both laugh-out-loud funny and tear-in-the-eye heartwarming. It’s also the first time I haven’t wanted to retch when a singer dedicates a song to his Mum.

  8. Spiff says:

    The opening music is dead on Chiron Beta Prime.

  9. JC says:

    Spiff: it’s the same drums – got to buy a new library…

  10. Now it is your solemn duty to track down Justin, and give him half your profits for this week’s Thing. Public domain is all well and good, but you know you’d be doing the right thing. ;)

    Well done,
    Eric

  11. Lane says:

    oh man, I made a bunch of tapes with a friend of mind when I was a kid. I recently spoke with him as we are planning our 25th high school reunion. We talked about those tapes. I have completely lost track of them. We each had some of them, and it seems we have none now. I wish I knew where they were. We got quite elaborate, with an alien that had become stranded on earth and shacked up with a chick he met. We did our own monster chiller horror theatre. Weirdly enough, he always like the voices I made up, and I always preferred his.

    I really dig the kid of course, and also, your backup vocals. This is going to become a favourite of mine.

    oh, btw, garage band has a pitch corrector … :)

  12. Mur says:

    For the record, “sibling rivalry” is one of my favorite songs by you, so don’t discount your other audio adventures.

  13. Andrine says:

    Thanks Alex, I knew that the lyrics should be there, but it wasn’t up on the songs page when I posted. There they are now. And it’s totally understandable in the source material. I love that Rock and Roll boy!

  14. DGD says:

    Why do I get the feeling Justin was a member of the Kiss Army?

  15. Barby says:

    And here is the moment when Barby feels an incessant need to throw my arms around you and tell you, that might be the cutest thing I’ve heard all year. Go go Jo Co!

  16. Otis Fodder says:

    Thank you for this!! I contacted Justin (who is still around and is a video/film producer cat in Seattle WA). We played for years in a band together Lullabelle in Seattle, http://www.junkstand.com.

    If you want to write Justin (JP Farquar) directly you can reach him at:

    unclemaryx [at] junkstand [dot] com

    This song/version/original-remake is nothing but amazing. After carrying around this recording for years and compiling the Party Fun comp this makes me more happy then you can ever know. Thank You!!

  17. Otis Fodder says:

    P.S. -

    Just linked you from the Comfort Stand website:

    http://www.comfortstand.com/catalog/004/index.html
    http://www.comfortstand.com/index.html

    Thank you again. I am going to call Justin tomorrow to make sure he hears this. You don’t even know, he is going to love this. I think you will have made his decade.

  18. Barby says:

    That’s crazy and awesome! You go!

  19. ric seaberg says:

    awesome effort jc. i kneel at the feet of the king omega talented jonathan! ric

  20. JC says:

    Hey Otis: that’s excellent, I’m glad this song will make its way home to the man himself. Let me know if he says I got it right or not…

  21. Dave says:

    My parents recorded my sisters and me in about 1973 (we were between 4 and 9). Naturally, they treasured it as if it was an original butcher cover of Yesterday And Today. Dad even went so far as to transfer it to CD and, the last time we were together, they played it for us. The sight of my nephews looking disinterested as my parents kept saying, “This is your mommy when she was your age” as my sister warbled “The Impossible Dream” was the only thing to come out of that episode.

  22. loverofme says:

    u should sing over justins prety voice jc

  23. Otis Fodder says:

    yes, alternate version! sorry, just hooked on this song.

  24. Jordan says:

    This song is so damn good. It’s been in my head since I heard it, and I don’t mind it being there.

  25. Wilson Fowlie (aka CuriousMind) says:

    So, what’s the verdict from Justin – anyone know?

  26. Otis says:

    Justin wrote to me the other day and said,

    “i just listened to it. it’s great. unfortunately my ma just got on a plane so she didn’t get to hear it.”

    that’s it from the rock and roll boy. anyone wanting to write him can do so at, unclemaryx [at] junkstand [dot] com

  27. Bruce says:

    Well, I like the guitar very much and I do think the song is original. Have you thought about recording a cover of a rock classic. These are rock classic covers are all the rage, ever since Dr. BLT released this version of Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild

    Born to Be Wild
    Dr. BLT
    http://www.drblt.net/music/Born2BeWild.mp3

  28. JY says:

    FYI, I happened to stumble across an earlier recording that another musician made based on the same tape of Justin. It is said to have been created in April 2004. Your version is catchier though.

    Here’s the link to a page that lets you play the song:

    http://www.comfortstand.com/catalog/511/index.html

  29. I’m sorry, but next to “Beds Hurt My Booty” this is my least favorite thing of yours. I can’t stand to listen to either. Why this one? The vocal style of the kid seems really punk or hard rock and you went in a completely different direction, making it into a Queen-esque choral-rock piece. Now, I like that style when it fits the lyrics and vocals (I’m a big fan of Queen), but I feel this song called for ‘RAWK’. I respect your artistic choice and am a huge fan of your work in general, but… yeah. Sorry.