This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #12: Egg Man by The Beastie Boys.
Today we have a new category of person doing the nominating of a song. So far, I have had co-workers, friends from High school, as well as, a former student of mine. But today, we have something new…….we have someone who isn’t actually a friend of mine at all. Please allow me to introduce a lady named Jackie Pepper who is, actually, a good friend of my wife, Keri. Because of that relationship, Keri and I have gotten to know Jackie and her husband, Steve. They are a great couple, who have two teenage-ish sons. They also have developed and are marketing a line of books and toys called “The Night Knights”, which I have always thought had a lot of potential. All in all, Jackie has become a good person to know and someone I knew would give me a good song to talk about when I called for Honourable Mention nominations. And boy, she really came through with a doozy! I am extremely confident that I could give my wife one hundred million guesses and she would never have picked out her good friend, Jackie’s song recommendation of “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys! What a novel choice, Jackie. Here is the story of “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys. Let’s go…….!
As you may know by now, The Beastie Boys were a Hip Hop group that often incorporated rock music into their songs. They were/are the only white Hip Hop group ever inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They have sold close to one hundred million albums over the course of their career. One of the things that characterizes a Beastie Boy song are the intelligence of their lyrics. They often use humour and/or cultural references in their lyrics which, in turn, serve to make the larger point that the band wished to communicate. “Egg Man” is a prime example of this.
“Egg Man” comes from their second album called, “Paul’s Boutique”. The premise of the song is somewhat juvenile, I will admit but, it goes to serve a larger purpose in the end. Apparently, all throughout their time together as friends and bandmates, the guys in The Beastie Boys (Mike “Mike D.” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz and Adam “MCA” Yauch) liked to throw eggs at people and at objects, such as buildings and cars. Like I said, kinda juvenile. However, they used this premise to create a character who functions as an anti-hero called, “Egg Man”. In the song, Egg Man starts out as a trouble maker who eggs unsuspecting passersby….there is even a drive-by egging. It is all fun and games until Egg Man is caught by the Police and thrown into jail. While there, Egg Man resolves to turn his strengths into something good which, as it turns out, is taking a stand against racism…which is the ultimate point of the song. Thus, “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys is, in fact, one of the biggest selling and cleverest anti-racism songs ever written!
The thing about this song is that it is loaded with cultural references…..almost like a Hip Hop DaVinci Code, of sorts. One of the things that people most enjoy while listening to this song is trying to pick out all of the references that come so fast and furious as the song’s story unfolds. To help guide you a little bit, listen for Dr. Suess, the movie, “Psycho” and many more. The genius of their work in a song such as “Egg Man” is using the references, along with song and sound sampling, to add layers of meaning to the song. For example, pay attention to what is being said when you detect the “Psycho” movie reference. The inclusion of such a sample at that exact moment in the song sends out an added layer of meaning without the boys having to articulate it in words. The bottom line to it all is that what might, at first, come off as silly, jokester rap, is actually, a very tight, well-organized and thought out song that comes at us, as listeners, from multiple angles to, in the end, give us a message about racism that is deeper and has more meaning that we might realize at first.
To me, Jackie’s choice of “Egg Man” makes me smile. I really like listening to songs that are not formula-driven. If someone creates a song that is original and unique yet, still enjoyable to listen to then, I am there with bells on. That is why I am drawn to artists such as Radiohead, Bjork and Kate Bush. The Beastie Boys are like this, too. One of the best things about Hip Hop is how creative Rappers can be with their lyrics. In “Egg Man” we have all of the creativity you could ever want in a song, when it comes to weaving the samples and references, in and out of each other, all throughout the song. The song still sounds like a Hip Hop song but there is so much going on that it ends up causing the listener to attend to the song the same way we tend to view great works of Art in a museum. Every detail matters in “Egg Man” and, just as important, every detail is there in the first place. There is much thoughtfulness in how this song is constructed and because of that, I like the song. However, I am fairly confident that my wife….who is Jackie’s good friend….would not even give “Egg Man” a listen. It is not her style of music at all. It just goes to prove that even good friends don’t necessarily have to share everything in common to be friends. There can be secret sides to ourselves that are just for us and that is ok. But, if Jackie is up for a challenge then, the next time the two of you are heading out for a leisurely brunch date, try to explain “Egg Man” to my wife in such a way that she would give the song a fair chance herself. Now, that would really be something.
Thank you, Jackie, for giving me such a great song to talk about. I am a fan of The Beastie Boys, too. “Sabotage” is my favourite song of theirs but they have lots of other great songs, too. Thanks, as well, for all of your comments and stories that you shared with everyone all throughout this musical countdown of ours. Your input has made this journey more enjoyable for me and, for that, I thank you.
So, without further delay, here is one heck of a song…..”Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Beastie Boys, can be found here.
The link to the official website of Jackie’s company, “The Night Knights”, can be found here.