Big Bottom

We watched Spinal Tap this last Friday.  I’ve probably only seen it about five times, but each time I watch it I notice something new that leads me to believe Spinal Tap might be one of the singular comedy achievements of the 20th Century.

Obviously, Nigel’s guitar solo using the violin (rather than the bow, Jimmy Page-style) is hilarious.  Last time I watched was the first time I noticed that he stops the guitar solo to tune, not the guitar, but the violin.  That’s beyond hilarious.

Every time I see the movie I crack up when they start to play Big Bottom, because of Derek Smalls’ double-necked bass.  The indulgence and sheer ridiculousness of a double-necked bass would be a satisfactory joke in and of itself.  Kills me every time.  Then last time I started to pay more attention to the lyrics of the song, which are so outstanding I present them for you now:

The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’
That’s what I said
The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand
Or so I have read

My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo
I’d like to sink her with my pink torpedo

Big bottom, big bottom
Talk about bum cakes, my girl’s got ’em
Big bottom drive me out of my mind
How could I leave this behind?

I met her on Monday, twas my lucky bun day
You know what I mean
I love her each weekday, each velvety cheek day
You know what I mean

My love gun’s loaded and she’s in my sights
Big game is waiting there inside her tights, yeah

Big bottom, big bottom
Talk about mud flaps, my girl’s got ’em
Big bottom drive me out of my mind

How could I leave this behind?

Outstanding.  But this weekend I noticed, for the first time, that Derek, Nigel and David are all playing bass guitars.  Which pretty much makes four bass guitars, given Derek’s double-neck.  And, given that a song with “big bottom” has a lot of bass…I guess I have no choice but to conclude that Big Bottom must be in the Top Ten of Jokes in the history of Jokes.

If there’s another layer of the joke that I’m missing, which is likely, somebody please let me know.  Otherwise, if you haven’t seen Spinal Tap in awhile go check it out.  And even if you have, it’s worth getting the new DVD version that has audio commentary from the cast, in character, twenty years later.

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15 Responses to Big Bottom

  1. Becky O says:

    Who gave you the tap, baby? You know it was us.

  2. Stanton says:

    From the original –

    Unintentional joke – the “Poison” tshirt on the drummer, a hair metal reference about 5 years ahead of its time.

    The bottom neck of the double bass is used for the refrain, the top for the verses.

    SNL clip –

    This clip really shows the best part of the joke – these guys can actually play!

    Also, the keyboardist as “bass synthesizer.”

    Pay attention to the one very obvious lyric change (Elvis Costello does not approve).

  3. Nathan D says:

    “each velvety cheek day”

  4. pipelineblog says:

    Criminy, thanks for that link, Stanton. Yes, forgot to mention in the original post that in addition to all the great jokes, overt and covert, they actually wrote the songs and played all the instruments. Three talented motherfuckers, right there.

  5. Jim says:

    “Or so I have read” has always been my favorite lyric from that song, for some reason.

  6. seymour11 says:

    But it goes to 11.

  7. Jeff H says:

    Jim, that’s because it’s one of the funniest lyrics in any song from the movie.

    I have seen this movie too many times. To this day, I can’t drive by the Dress Barn Woman store near my house without getting a mental picture of David St. Hubbins.

  8. steim says:

    “Or so I have read” is hilarious. But I think “Pokin your hay” from Sex Farm Woman might be better.

  9. Charley says:

    my favorite thing about the dvd is that the “deleted scenes” feature is nearly as long–maybe even longer–than the film itself.

  10. Steve C says:

    My favorite joke may be obvious: Stonehenge. But lots of people don’t know that the Stonehenge scene was actually inspired by a true event. Black Sabbath was going to have Stonehenge behind them for one of their concerts, but the directions for its scale were accidentally converted from feet to meters, resulting in a stage prop of monumental size and utterly, completely unusable. The turning around of Stonehenge to being in danger of being crushed by a dwarf is a truly inspired metal in-joke. No, were not fucking playing Stonehenge tomorrow!

  11. Scotch says:

    Got to see Tap live in Minneapolis during their Break Like the Wind tour. Since they all actually play instruments and sing, it came off a lot like being in a scene from the movie. Most notable…

    Nigel’s guitar solo was so long, the other musicians left the stage. What they did after they left was shown on two big screens above the stage. Derek went to a beauty salon and David went out for a long meal. In MINNEAPOLIS. It was clearly filmed beforehand. But to watch them get into a limo out in front of the theater you were in was hilarious.

    And then the Stonehedge model was too big for the stage and couldn’t descend all the way.

    Plus, they kept saying they were in Indianapolis. And so on, but f’n brilliant.

    They did play Big Bottom at the end (appropriately). As David announced, “We’ve taken you to the top tonight. Which only leaves one place left to go.” Then the giant skull above the drum set spun around to reveal a giant ass.

    Best. Concert. Ever.

  12. Steve C says:

    You know, in retrospect, I can actually see a justification for a double-necked bass, if one of the necks were a 4-string or five-string, and the other was an 8- or 12-string bass, ala Tom Petersen of Cheap Trick. Nevertheless, the double-necked Rickenbacker (I think) had to have been one of the better custom jobs ever–although, I remember Geddy Lee used to pull out a bass/12-string double-neck, which could have been the inspiration. Or Rick Nielsen’s five-neck.

  13. pipelineblog says:

    I am also quite fond of “or so I have read”. See, it’s a literate rock song, too.

    I vaguely remember seeing that SNL performance when I was 15 or so, and I’m ashamed to admit that although I like to think of the 15 year-old me as being pretty with it, I had absolutely no concept of what was really the deal with Spinal Tap. I vaguely knew they were not a “real” band, but didn’t necessarily understand any level of the parody, or who the guys in the band were, or that it was a joke on any level whatsoever.

    What’s really sad about that is that circa 1984 my musical repertoire was contained large amounts of Rush, Van Halen, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and so on. I was a lonely teenager at home on a Saturday night in 1984 being mocked by Canadians rock star poseurs, and I didn’t even know it.

  14. nick ayres says:

    if you haven’t seen it, i would highly recommend “Waiting for Guffman” which IMHO is the best of the mocumentaries. It’s the same cast (basically – they’ve done 4 or 5 of these) and is hilarious.

  15. brien hays says:

    Waiting for Guffman is indeed hilarious — the town is billed as “the stool capitol of the world” — but Spinal Tap will never be topped (we can hope I’m wrong!).

    Another somewhat forgotten ST scene is when they’re discussing their first drummer who “died in a bizarre gardening accident,” and the police said it was “best left unsolved.” That always kills me.

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