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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 111
Mon. May 20, 2013

“Dirty Frank”
Pearl Jam

1992

“♫ Why
that dirty
Frank was
a bad mother/
shut your
mouth!
♫”

While Nirvana and Soundgarden are usually mentioned as obvious influences to the riffs and lyrics of Seattle cohorts Pearl Jam, but it was the inspiration and support of the L.A. funk/rock masters Red Hot Chili Peppers that actually sparked the sound of this unusual Lost Dog “Dirty Frank.”

Although, I’d admit “Dirty Frank” is not the best Pearl Jam song but there’s this certain sense of deranged funkiness, a off kilter weirdness that’s noticeably absent on most of PJ’s heavy songs. The original idea was sparked by 1990’s cannibal killer Jeffery Dahmer, but Pearl Jam took a more personal spin— making the protagonist their tour bus driver as Mike McCready explained in Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, “We had a bus driver at the time, this guy Frank, who we called ‘Dirty Frank” because we were scared of him. We thought he may have been a serial killer and he was going to eat me. They were just picking on me. And at that time, I was the skinniest guy in the band, so there wasn’t a lot of meat on me. We stole the middle part from the [Red Hot Chili] Peppers when we were opening up for them. [Editor’s note: Pearl Jam borrowed a line from the Red Hot’s “Freaky Styling.” To fit their ‘Dirty Frank” killer theme, Pearl Jam altered the Chili’s: “F-ck ’em just to see the look on their face” to “Cook ’em just to see the look on their face.”]”

Although, the fears from being cannibalized by bus driver “Dirty Frank” eventually subsided, Eddie Vedder remembers fondly those days touring with the Chili Peppers when he told Crowe, “Anthony, Flea and the Peppers gave us unfathomable amounts of support back in the day. I’ve never properly expressed my gratitude, though I’ve tried. It’s almost impossible to put into words what that meant to us, and me personally.”

Thank You Anthony, Flea and the Chili’s for inspiring such a funky song. Did you catch Eddie Vedder’s twisted tribute to Isaac Hayes? My favorite part is when Eddie turns Hayes most clever line, “Shaft is a bad mother…shut your mouth,” from 1971 “Theme from Shaft” into “Frank’s” most memorable phrase when Vedder shouts “Dirty Frank is a bad mother…shut your mouth.”

More than just a flip side to 1992’s ‘Even Flow” “Dirty Frank” was so essential Pearl Jam resurrected it for inclusion in their 2003 Lost Dogs anthology. Inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this cannibalistic anthem is one funky rarity that deserves resurrection in your next party. Twisted, insane but still 100% the soul of Pearl Jam, give “Dirty Frank” a try; you may just like the after taste of this bloody treat you won’t be able to resist the charms of this once killer b-side.

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