5 Songs About Andy Kaufman NOT By R.E.M.
Today would have been comedian Andy Kaufman's 64th birthday... assuming of course he isn't playing a really long practical joke on us all. Anyone else in the world and such a claim would be rightfully seen as conspiracy theory nuttery, but with Kaufman and his legendary dedication to character and craft, it seems almost likely.
Kaufman is rightfully renowned as a comedian and there has not truly ever been another like him. His comedy routines were wildly experimental, rarely using traditional jokes and instead revolving around a cast of characters acting bizarre, or sudden violent incidences that looked real but were staged. He parlayed these into stints on Saturday Night Live, a role on the show Taxi, his own specials, and a professional wrestling career that still holds up as one of the greatest kayfabe storylines of all time.
At just 35 years old, Kaufman was laid low with a rare form of lung cancer, and he took whatever genius he had still to produce with him. We're left with memories and a tremendous biopic starring Jim Carrey named after R.E.M.'s famous ode to Kaufman, "Man on the Moon." Michael Stipe and company aren't the only ones to ever pay homage in song to Andy, though. Today we highlight them in this week's playlist.
Peter Broderick, "With Notes on Fire"
Peter Broderick is from Portland, which always makes me inclined to like a musician. His work is stunningly pretty, but with some interesting creative turns that are daring and unexpected. The sudden machine-gun delivery of the lyrics in "With Notes on Fire," is as out of left field as Kaufman himself after minutes of almost New Age soft-rock. Broderick name-drops in the course of the song as an inspiration to its own creation.
Sage Francis, "Andy Kaufman"
You know who really likes Andy Kaufman? Rappers. Seriously, the next three tunes are rap songs, so if you don't swing that way, then I'm sorry. If you listen to no other entry, though, give two minutes to Sage Francis.
He's a spoken-word artist in addition to a rapper, and his quick drop of a track plays more like a short story as he details faking his death and attending his own funeral. Like I said, anybody else and I would call bullshit, but with Andy we can only be 99 percent sure, and Sage Francis does wonders with that idea.