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They can't play baseball; they don't wear sweaters; they're not good dancers; they don't play drums.
January 23, 2008 9:54 PM   Subscribe

"Fish Heads" (Lumania, 1980). Produced and Directed by Bill Paxton. Starring Bill Paxton, Barry Hansen; with Billy Mumy and Robert Haimer as Art Barnes and Artie Barnes. The song on which the film was based, by Barnes & Barnes, turns thirty years old this year, and has been retooled for the internet age by Haimer. Haimer and Mumy have also collaborated on some new material.

More video weirdness from Barnes and Barnes' heyday:
- Love Tap (also starring Bill Paxton)
- When You Die
- AH-A
- Pizza Face (again with the Bill Paxton)
- Party in my Pants
- Soak it Up (I think Bill Paxton must have grown up with them or something)

Artie Barnes, Jr. is carrying on the Barnes family tradition.
posted by not_on_display (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Biiiiiilllll MUMY!
posted by cortex at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2008


Well, whaddaya know - I had no idea Bill Paxton was involved. He's always had a warm place in my heart for Chet in Weird Science, but now I'm doubly impressed.

I remember this came on MuchMusic's first "alternative" show, City Limits, past midnight on a Friday back in about '88, and my high-school pals and I were completely blown away. We were trading mangled half-remembered lyrics ("Eat them up, YUM!") for weeks like we'd been indoctrinated into a secret society that even we didn't understand. It was many many months before any of us saw it again and we still had no idea where it came from. Or, you know, why. Kinda like an advance warning siren of the alternative culture I'd come to know and love on much more intimate terms at university a few years later, only in the form of a clown's arrooga horn.

I know you kids with your series of YouTubes probably can't understand this, but stuff like that "Fish Heads" video used to just live on only in your memory, like a riddle or a rune or something.

Now get the hell offa my lawn and fetch me a Zima, will ya?
posted by gompa at 10:33 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw this (Fish Heads) so many times on CityTV and later MuchMusic that I still remember the lyrics. There was always something about it, and there still is, but then that's obvious by my use of the word always because always is all the time, and all time.

Don't recall see any of the others.
posted by juiceCake at 10:48 PM on January 23, 2008


Fish Heads was thirty years ago?

Oh lord. [is getting waaay too old]
posted by jokeefe at 10:56 PM on January 23, 2008


What timing! If you're in Portland, Oregon this week, and you're into this sort of thing, Dr. Demento is giving four lectures in four nights -- all of them free -- at Reed College, his alma mater. Eat it up, yum.
posted by diastematic at 11:01 PM on January 23, 2008


Actually, I thought it was older than 30 years, as I remember when I did a "college radio Dr. Demento clone" show in '76-'77, getting requests for the song but being unable to play it because it was a "Dr. Demento Exclusive". Then again, that could've been early Weird Al or Ogden Edsel or some half dozen others.
posted by wendell at 11:04 PM on January 23, 2008


Or DEVO's "Jocko Homo"... maybe it was that...

Good (strange) times.
posted by wendell at 11:05 PM on January 23, 2008


Not having grown up in Canada, I didn't see this on either CityTV or MuchMusic... in fact, although this video is burned into my brain, I have no idea where I saw it at all. The small American town I grew up in was probably a thousand miles from the nearest Dr. Demento broadcast -- all I can figure is that it may have been on Night Flight.
posted by jjg at 11:08 PM on January 23, 2008


Don't forget that Crispin Glover was also a collaborator with Barnes & Barnes.

Man, it's hard to believe there was a time when Bill Paxton was as weird as Crispin Glover. I miss those days.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 PM on January 23, 2008


The video played on Saturday Night Live in 1980. It was probably one of the funnier moments during that infamously bad season.

^wendell: you could be right about the age. I extrapolated it from the first playing on the Dr. Demento show, but the Modern Guitar article mentions that the Voobaha album was issued in 1976. Thirty-two year old fish heads.
posted by not_on_display at 11:21 PM on January 23, 2008


here's a cute anime video version (.avi).
posted by progosk at 11:26 PM on January 23, 2008


Danger, Will Robinson! DANGER!!!
posted by miss lynnster at 11:43 PM on January 23, 2008


BTW, looks like Miguel Ferrer was also in Pizza Face.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:48 PM on January 23, 2008


Is he wearing tights?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:49 PM on January 23, 2008


I've got the vinyl of Voobaha and the date on it is 1980, Rhino Records, and wikipedia says Fish Heads was first played on Dr. Demento in 1978.
posted by zarah at 12:54 AM on January 24, 2008


voobaha.com
posted by zarah at 1:00 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a child of the '80s, I was, of course familiar with "Fish Heads" by way of USA's Night Flight. During my freshman year in college, a friend of mine turned me on to Just Say Yo, the second volume of Warner Bros./Sire Records' late 1980s/early 1990s "Just Say..." complations. Which included "Hot Dog", by Martini Ranch (sort of a Barnes and Barnes 2.0.) via
posted by Guy Smiley at 1:14 AM on January 24, 2008


oh, and: anybody have a copy of the quiznos take on it?
posted by progosk at 3:08 AM on January 24, 2008


Ah zarah, thanks for that link!
posted by JHarris at 4:36 AM on January 24, 2008


While it may have been on Night Flight, I feel pretty sure I saw Fish Heads on the (probably Canadian-Import-via-Nickelodeon) TurkeyTV^.
posted by abulafa at 5:18 AM on January 24, 2008


So many Saturday nights spent waiting for the Funny Five....
posted by briank at 5:57 AM on January 24, 2008


I got a fishead, took it to a movie. Didn't have enough to get...it...in. (bling)


I love that line.
posted by cashman at 6:28 AM on January 24, 2008


Voobanahana vop bop!

Gods, I love Barnes & Barnes. Bill Mumy is an awesome dude with some of the best anecdotes I've ever heard.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 AM on January 24, 2008


Heard the song many times but never saw the movie before.
They really can't play baseball!

... and it's 'Didn't have to pay to get it in."
posted by MtDewd at 6:36 AM on January 24, 2008


A Day in the Life of Green Acres
posted by MtDewd at 6:56 AM on January 24, 2008


what is this all about? I know most of the names there, but don't think I've ever heard of this 'barnes & barnes' thing. of course, i'm at work and can't get to youtube. could someone give me a little more contexte please?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:13 AM on January 24, 2008


I'm so old, I have "Fish Heads" on 45! (my parents were weird, what can I say?)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:19 AM on January 24, 2008


My cooler, older cousin Shawn played this for me, probably around 1981, and I remember being intrigued but also a little frightened and disturbed (although in fairness, I was an easily frightened child). It sounded (the chorus at least) like the Chipmunks had been possessed by Satan, and were possibly attempting to take control of my brain.

Although for frightening and disturbing, you can't top the time he had me listen to Revolution No. 9 with his giant headphones on. That must be what it's like to watch the tape from The Ring and know that you are about to die.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:28 AM on January 24, 2008


ArgentCorvid- I could not possibly provide adequate context, but perhaps Wiki can help.
Click on the 'and' between Art Barnes and Artie Barnes.

Here's an mp3 of Fish Heads and here's one of 'A Day in the life of Green Acres'
posted by MtDewd at 7:31 AM on January 24, 2008


Wow. I never knew one of my earliest memories actually had Bill Paxton in it.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:20 AM on January 24, 2008


This is good. Or must be good. If I could only check it from work!

Also, it's:
I took a fishead out to see a movie.
/pedant
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:23 AM on January 24, 2008


Grrr...

"fishead" s/b "fish head" (I fail at Internet)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:24 AM on January 24, 2008


The video played on Saturday Night Live in 1980.

I saw that. And it blew my little mind. Watching the video now, what makes me laugh is the guy in skinny jeans (Bill Paxton, I assume?). His hipster chic wouldn't look out of place today.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2008


My favorite line:
Roly-poly fish heads are never seen drinking cappucinos in Italian restaurants with Oriental women. Yeah.

Forgive me if it's a bit bungled, can't watch from work and I haven't actually heard the song in many moons.
posted by owtytrof at 9:34 AM on January 24, 2008


"what is this all about? I know most of the names there, but don't think I've ever heard of this 'barnes & barnes' thing. of course, i'm at work and can't get to youtube. could someone give me a little more contexte please?"

People may feel free to correct me if I'm encapsulating this incorrectly or missing any of the nuances of what's going on here:

Okay, so there was a show called Lost In Space that was on tv. And there was a little kid on it named Billy Mumy. And he played a character whose best friend was a robot named Robbie. This Billy Mumy kid also banished people into a cornfield on the Twilight Zone. Anyhow, so the kid actor grew up and started a band with his Hollywood buddies, and they were called "Barnes & Barnes." And they were totally wacky and sang about decapitated fish heads and stuff. And their video was on Saturday Night Live and the song became kind of a cult thing, an earworm that remains in the brains of anyone who heard it at the time. Most of whom never forgot the words. Because they're so freakin' surreal. And the videos for these songs apparently featured an actor that we didn't know AT ALL back then but who's now pretty famous. And so people are like, "Wait, HE was in that?" And watching the videos now after all of that time is like a flashback drug trip, looking at stuff we kinda forgot about but that is still an earworm in our brains. Y'know... so everyone in here is just kinda looking back at the innocent weirdness of the past. Because we can.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:12 PM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


What miss lynnster said. Also, Fish Heads is the all-time most requested song on the Dr. Demento radio show. Even more so than anything Wierd Al has put out. Also, Artie Barnes is a funny cheeseball. But mostly, what Lynn said.
posted by not_on_display at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2008


One small correction: The robot was just called "Robot" (technically he was a Model B-9 Environmental Control Robot). Robbie the Robot was from Forbidden Planet.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:55 PM on January 24, 2008


This song has been an important part of my life ever since I discovered that you can eradicate any song stuck in your head by mentally singing "Fish Heads" and "Felis Navidad" simultaneously.

I'm serious. It works.
posted by rifflesby at 7:52 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have loved Bill Paxton since The Dark Backward; I can't believe I didn't know he was in this video! Amazing! I used to love the hell out of this song. Ah, high school.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2008


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