Song Of The Day 8/9/2015: Fred Schneider – “Coconut”

Quarterly Covers Report – Have you ever sat in your dreaming chair, whatever it is – I suggest the well-worn ’70s recliner in your basement that nobody else in your family wants in the house – and imagined, “I wonder what it would sound like if the guy in the B–52s was asked to cover Harry Nilsson’s quirkiest hit single with a battalion of post-grunge guitars going off like bottle rockets in a wayward 4th of July celebration in a New Mexico ghost town?” Has not coming to full awareness of this question’s answer been driving you crazy? Well, un-crouch yourself, liebkin. This is exactly what it would sound like. Out of all the things in the world that sound like something, this sounds just like that.

Fred Schneider’s cover of “Coconut” was originally recorded for a benefit album called For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson, which came out in 1995, the year after Nilsson’s death. That album replicated Harry’s unique elevation of the sacred and the profane in the same breath, with lots of beautiful work (Randy Newman’s “Remember”; Aimee Mann’s “One”) going up against slightly saltier fare (Joe Ely’s “Joy”; Peter Wolf’s “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”). It works when it works. “Coconut” was also on Fred’s 1996 solo album Just Fred, a game effort to recast the offbeat Georgian vocalist as the unstable leader of a possessed post-In Utero punk band. Steve Albini was even the producer, or whatever it was he liked to be called (except for “Coconut,” which was produced by John Agnello). It too mixed the sacred and profane, hold the sacred. It’s an interesting Polaroid of what we all did with our hands after “Love Shack” faded into the creases of history.

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