Song of the Week: King of Beers
That’s Tiffany Levine. Now she’s a rock climber of some renown, but way back in 1988 she was the woman who inspired “King of Beers.”
Jay and I were killing time in L.A. with our friend Joe Williams, who had brought along his friend and that friend’s sister, Tiffany, who was gorgeous and funny, and who politely pretended not to notice as Jay and I fought all night over who got to sit next to her in Joe’s car, or at the first bar we went to, or at the second bar, and so on. At one point, in an effort to save some modicum of self-respect for both of us, Jay and I huddled, each of us trying to talk the other out of his hopeless pursuit.
“Tim,” Jay said, “she’s so beautiful, I’d sleep with her brother.”
“Great,” I said. “You do that, because I’m going to sleep with her. By the way, that’s a great line. We have to call a timeout so I can write that down.”
Because Jay is an honorable man, he helped me find a napkin to scribble the line on. Then we went back to our war, which I cannot tell you who won because I am a gentleman (Jay lost, though).
The rest of the lyric was inspired by and written during similar nights. It became such a staple of the live set that I’m not sure if there’s a night we didn’t play it, once it was released. It might be one reason we got a reputation as a frat-rock band, but at least one friend told me, “The thing I like about that song is it’s actually pretty honest about drinking. It’s not exactly a celebration.”
Since I tend to overemphasize lyrics, let’s see what producer Paul Fox and drummer Tommy Vinton have to say about the production and the music. Here’s what Paul sent me when I asked him if he wanted to contribute to this post:
2:20What a great band, so different at the time from most anyone else.The guys who could come up with stories inside their songs that could last for a lifetime.And I guess that has come true, because here I am again looking at“King Of Beers” one of the best of their tracks.A driving track that reeks of the smell of beer, an acoustic guitar,a band with no fear, a love of girls that they will never have,but with a guitar that sometimes sounds like hell and then is saved,by a solid drum kit and player who can’t drink beer, because he was also a cop !Crazy fun !!We had fun packed into 2:20, and to this day I love the crazy sounds,the switch of the guitar to a nylon guitar and back again to the crazyroar of Tim Quirk, the bass of Sandy Smallens, and the rest of TOO MUCH JOY….Whooooooooo yah !!!
Gee, thanks, Paul. Cops can drink beer, though — I was always a bit worried when we played NYC, because Tommy’s cop buddies would get plastered and do things like tear the sinks off the wall of the bathroom. In fact, Tommy’s recollections jump pretty quickly to memories of being drunk:
King Of Beers is one of the straight ahead rock songs on CK. I think Sandy and I did our basic tracks in one or two takes. Love Tim’s lyrics on this one. So much so that when playing this song live we emphasize the “why am I such an asshole, why am I here alone” lyric by dropping out all instruments. Always works and feels great as a live song. On a side note and not really related to the song, we were asked by Budweiser to do a radio commercial which we all reluctantly agreed to do. Once done it was played on all the big commercial radio stations, a first for TMJ. I actually did the speaking part, but it didn’t sound like me due to the large amount of jagermeister and beer that was consumed while recording…we were the literal kings of beer that day…and not in a good way…
If you want to hear Tommy’s drunken spiel on that Budweiser commercial, and read about just how reluctant some of us were, I embedded the audio in a long post on my personal website about how that radio spot nearly broke up the band.