David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 266: Atticus (99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall)

July 9, 2023

You gotta love someone's commitment to something incredibly time-consuming, especially if it can become mind-numbing.

I might be talking about myself and this blog.

Or, and I much prefer this interpretation, I might be finding my second chance to reference a band named after a character in To Kill A Mockinbird (see Day 13 for The Boo Radleys). Atticus was a Tennessee band formed in late 1990s to little fanfare. They made two solid guitar-based CDs in 1999 and 2000, then really flexed their muscles with 2001's Figment where they covered many classic songs, including two eye-opening choices with "Pachelbel's Kanon in D" and, yes, it is true, "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall."

One of those compositions ranks with the most beautiful songs ever, the other is frankly an irritating song mostly known to obnoxious teenagers trying to kill time on a long bus trip. I have lovely versions of "Pachelbel's Kanon in D" I could rhapsodize about, including George Winston's (may he rest in peace) on his CD December.

Having said all that, I am here to dedicate this day and blog to Atticus singing "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall." Poor Harper Lee must be turning over in her grave that anyone would write that sentence. (Remember, Harper you are the one what wrote that "if Atticus drank until he was drunk, he still wouldn't as hard as some men are at their best".)

Atticus's version apparently was recorded in a Glasgow, Scotland, club, and you wonder if it truly was an impromptu moment. Who knows? Maybe the crowd was demanding another encore, and Atticus had no original songs left up their sleeves. Certainly the fun is hearing the full audience participation, recognizing the drunken state of many, if not all, including Atticus.

For 13+ minutes Atticus sing the entire song, embracing the repetitiveness by not even altering the chord sequence. In probably the easiest coding ever for the internet, Chordify actually provides a full accounting of those 13 minutes, the C-D-G-D sequencing going on forever. The only musician who seems to have free rein is the guitarist, who must have been in heaven for having 13 minutes to play variations on this canonic theme. With the various shouts, screams, and glass clinks that fill the song, I'm hard-pressed to know what is the band (and their intentions) versus what is some drunken Scot.

If this really was a spur-of-the-moment decision, you have to wonder who regretted it the most, probably around the 61st bottle of beer: the lead singer, the lead guitarist, the drummer, the club owner? All in all, it is a pretty fantastic recording. The recording has made several lists as the top drinking song ever. Note these rankings are not just about a song, but include specific recordings. If nothing else, thank God Atticus beat out Andy Kaufmann's version. Good God, that may have been funny for about 8 beers, but knowing Kaufmann he milked that sucker for all of its drollness to 0 beers.

And I have to admit, I didn't know of it or Atticus until this week, when I went searching for versions of "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall." I guess for once in this series, I let the song determine the blog not the band. That's o.k., as the other Atticus taught me, the polite thing to do is find out what others are interested in. I am listening to Figment on YouTube and searching for the CD while writing this. Doesn't look I will achieve the latter, which is sad because I am enjoying the former. The album is pretty chill well before the "99 Bottles Of Beer . . ." blast, which comes about 16 minutes into the hour-long CD. Peculiar sequencing choice? Is there anywhere to go musically after singing this for 13:00 minutes? Turns out, they ended up going into something barbershop quartet/bluegrass that seems closer to They Might Be Giants than Tennessee Waltz.

And bearing relevance to nothing, with this post, I am 99 blogs away from finishing. 99 blogs to write on the wall, 99 blogs to write, get one down, pass it around, 98 blogs to write on the wall. I hope I am sober when I finish.

Atticus. "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall." Figment. [Label unknown], 2001. Link here.

Day 265: Brian May "Let Your Heart Rule Your Head"

Day 267: Jackson Browne "Love Needs A Heart"

See complete list here.