Category Archives: Nirvana

Andy Griffith: The Music of Mayberry and Beyond

Had Andy Griffith lived one day longer, he would have died on the 4th of July. This seems fitting for a man as American as apple pie, yet his simple modesty would never have allowed it. Thus, Andy Griffith passed away last week on July 3, one month into his 86th year, leaving a monumental contribution to American culture behind him.

He was best known as an actor, playing the straight-man, small-town Sheriff Andy Taylor in the eponymous television show he helped create – and with it an entire world. His childhood was rich with storytelling and, especially, music. The eccentric residents of the fictional Mayberry were inspired by the colorful characters that peppered his childhood in Mount Airy, North Carolina. While it is true he grew up dirt poor in the small southern town, even reduced to sleeping in dresser drawers as an infant, Andy Griffith was no bumpkin. In 1949, the ambitious and multifaceted Griffith graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Music, where he served as the Men’s Glee Club President.

Music played a key role in the original “Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960-1968. The Sheriff could often be found pickin’ a guitar on the front porch of a summer evening, but things really started to cook when the Darlings came to town. Continue reading →

Five Subjects Behind: Some thoughts on grunge, time machines, and “Clam Chow-Dah!”

by Tracy Wuster

On January 11th, 1992, I gathered with a group of friends to watch Saturday Night Live, our usual Saturday night activity as high school sophomores.  This was a special night.  Nirvana was playing, and we were living just north of Seattle.  Grunge was our thing: flannel, mosh pits, and, most of all, music.

This was the episode on which the band played “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” thrashed their instruments during “Territorial Pissings,” and kissed each other during the closing credits. The band’s anarchic spirit expressed not only our (possibly exaggerated) teen angst but also the humor of destruction, noise, and pissing off parents and other authorities that went hand in hand with the angst.

But, oddly enough, what I remember most from that episode of Saturday Night Live is not Nirvana’s performance but a sketch featuring the host Rob Morrow.  The sketch is entitled, “Five Subjects Behind,” but I have always referred to it as “Clam Chow-Dah!”

Watch:

In the sketch, Morrow is at a diner with two friends–a man and a woman.  As the conversation proceeds, Morrow awkwardly and consistently returns to previous subjects with a punchline now hopelessly outdated, interrupting the flow of conversation to the increasing consternation of his friends.  At one point, the character played by Mike Myers mentions Boston and clam chowder.  After several subjects go by, Morrow bellows out: “Clam Chow-dah!” in a Boston-esque accent, and then awkwardly recreates the context, defeating the humor of the comment and, in fact, forcing an awkwardness that might be described as “anti-humorous.”*

Continue reading →