0305: “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)” by The Hombres

You can always tell when an artist has achieved an iconic status or is channeling the Zeitgeist because an inevitable three-step process occurs: 1) in which an overwhelming majority of artists tries to emulate them, followed by 2) their success provides for a counterpoint in the form of a new genre/sound/look, and then 3) a developed parody of the thing. Bob Dylan changed songwriting in meaningful ways while also spawning a crop of laughable wannabes (even The Rolling Stones weren’t immune to this with their cringe-worthy Wells Street knock-off “Jigsaw Puzzle”), and then people pretty much decided that it was time for metaphor-laden song poetry to take a back seat to bands like Led Zeppelin, with people parodying Dylan’s vocal styling in between and afterward—half the country has an exaggerated impression of Dylan in their hip pocket if you ask for it. Dylan himself even moved on from his ’60s Zeitgeist run but you get the picture. (I just wish he would’ve kept his sense of humor but I digress.)

The Hombres were a garage band from Tennessee who heard Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and decided that it was nonsense posing as profundity. They had a counterpoint to it and made a parody of it while at the same time crafting a legitimately catchy song. The lyrics are just words strung together randomly—the spoken word intro is a reference to an old novelty song punctuated by a raspberry—but the music thereafter is jangly garage rock infused with a kind of go-go and early Haight-Ashbury mix and it works much better than what it should when you see such a description on paper. It enjoyed brief success when it was released, peaking at #12 but then was relegated to cult classic status. I was introduced to it when I bought The Nuggets box set in the late ’90s and my first inclination was to laugh admirably at it. On a box set that included some truly weird garage rock and psychedelic oddities of a bygone underground era I appreciated the earnestness of their silliness. If I heard this song alone I might think it was pure novelty, but listened to amongst some really out-there songs and singles it became more clear that these kids had some real talent, even if it was winking at you.

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