This week (and continuing next) we've been looking at superheroes: their spirituality, their mystical powers, and their mythic tales ever to be retold. They are also immortalized in song. The J'box serves up some of our favorites.
First off and arguably most famous The Ramones classic rendition of the Spiderman theme song. This song spoke to a uniting of various outsider high school factions--punks and sci-fi nerds--built around the outsider high school nerd superhero himself Peter Parker. You can't help but smile lisenting to this one. He's your friendly neigborhood Spiderman after all.
The continuing influence of punk/comic book crossover can be seen in this next piece In the Garage from Weezer. I've included it for its reference to one of my personal favorite superheroes: Nightcrawler.
We might even pull back this punk-fantasy thread back a little further to The Kinks. Plastic Man is about well a plastic man but in Kinks fashion is also a form of social critique ("he's got a plastic wife who wears a plastic mac/and his children want to be plastic just like dad"). Similar to the Kinks other superhero themed piece on Captain America (Catch Me Now I'm Falling), a reference to the sliding American power of the late 70s).
Next Andy Kauffman's famous lip sync to the Mighty Mouse theme song on Saturday Night Live.
Next a song that parodies the mythology that grows up around now dead heroic humans. In this case George Washington. As someone who grew up in the US hearing stories about how GW could never tell a lie and chopped down cherry trees, I always get a kick out of this darker version (I blast it on President's Day). There's a nice superhero reference here: "Washington, Washington/12 stories tall made of radiation."
Warning: Hilariously explicit and graphic lyrics in this song (including references to Washington's gonads that I don't remember hearing about in school).
While we're on parodies, there's rapper Dr. Doom working with Danger Mouse (both named after brilliant characters). They did an entire album on Adult Swim. This one on Space Ghost's talk show is the best. As a boy I used to watch Space Ghost and then in my college years pretty much my entire floor of my dorm would get together to watch the utterly genius postmodern reinterpretation of Space Ghost as a talk show host. People would laugh their asses off. Admittedly many were intoxicated but still.
Here's Space Ho's
No rap outfit is more into comic books, fantasy, spirituality then the Wu Tang Clan. Here's Ghostface Killah with Daytona 500--on an album named after Iron Man Tony Starks himself. Check the Speed Racer backdrop to this one. Warning: NSFW.
If heavy metal is more your style, then fear not, I haven't forgotten you. There's Manowar's tribute to the hammer-wielding god of thunder Thor.
No list would be complete with Queen's Flash (not about that Flash, though he has his own song about too, a ballad actually). No Flash Gordon who does pick up on the theology inherent in superhero comics ("He saved everyone one of us."). And if you've never seen the tripped out cult-classic flim for which this is the theme, you're missing out big time.
Update I: Since I mentioned Danger Mouse earlier, I found the pilot episode of the show (only 11 minutes long). If you never watched this growing up, you lost out--a genius cartoon interpretion and omage to James Bond complete with British accents and pirate patch (watch for the Benny Hill reference in this one).
Honorable Mention: Wonderboy by Tenacious D