Bweinh! Soundtrack — Crash Test Dummies

April 22, 2007, 6:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Josh J, Music  | 6 Comments

Every weekend, a different Bweinh!tributor will discuss a song or songwriter that inspires or interests them. Read the first three soundtrack entries here, here, and here.

Growing up, my parents discouraged listening to secular music, concerned about the influence of the negative themes so prevalent in the genre. There wasn’t any radio play in our house, and I didn’t own my first album until I was sixteen. That was the year my best friend lived with us, and he convinced my brother and me that the three of us should join Columbia House together. We could each get three free albums up front, and then each be on the hook for one additional album in the future.

I knew next to nothing about music at the time, and simply picked groups that produced one song I remembered liking. Through this blind dart throwing, I ended up with a cassette that would help shape my taste in musical style, vocal quality, and lyrical ingenuity. In fact, I ended up with one of the best albums you’ve probably never heard — God Shuffled His Feet by the Crash Test Dummies.

You may remember their one hit, “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” At the time, this song led me to believe that, if nothing else, they were a safe choice with no swearing or explicit content. And there was just something about them that caught my interest.

Their lead singer has an incredibly unique voice, so unusually deep that a few years later Steve theorized that perhaps the reason they never had another hit was that he had died of lung cancer. Although there was lyrical support for this theory (“How come I just smoke and smoke and smoke, and curse every butt I spit out?” ; “I’ve had my lungs checked out with X-rays” ; “Maybe I can change the test results that I will get back”), it was decidedly untrue. His voice was unlike anything else I’d heard, captivating, resonating, and decidedly non-pop.

The music relies heavily on acoustic guitar and piano (two of my favorites), and alternates between haunting and happy, with a sound all its own. But what sets the album apart the most are the lyrics. Sometimes they were just plain goofy, but ultimately, this was an album that made me think, that made me question. They covered everything from the pretentiousness of art (“Which should be my favorite paintings?”) to unexpectedly running into an ex (“Like catching a sniff of tequila in the morning, but I’ll try — try to keep my food down”) to psychics (“Would she keep it secret if death stood before me?”).

While they’re clearly not a Christian band, several lyrics suggest a level of Biblical knowledge. My favorite example is the title track, a twist on the creation story. While not meant to be consistent with the Biblical account (God creates blankets and sits in the shade having a picnic with his newly created people), there are many other allusions. At one point the people question God: “If your eye got poked out in this life, would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?” This reminds me of the Pharisees questioning Jesus about a woman who married several brothers who all died, trying to trick Him. In the song, after God answers the question with an unrelated story, the people still don’t understand, asking, “Was that a parable or a very subtle joke?” The band continues this struggle to understand in a more serious vein in other songs with lyrics like, “Why does God cause things like tornadoes and train wrecks?,” and “When everything seems nicely planned out, well the human race will come and smack your face.”

With this last sentiment I actually couldn’t agree more. We as humans have done a great job messing up the world. Like the Crash Test Dummies, this often leaves me with lots of questions and uncertainty. But this album has also reminded me how glad I am that even when I don’t have all the answers, I know the one who does.

I know the Truth.


6 Comments to “Bweinh! Soundtrack — Crash Test Dummies”

  1. aaron.guest on April 23rd, 2007 3:12 pm

    A couple of things. First, I was talking about this album two days ago and how great in album it was. Coffeespoons and T.S. Eliot. Second, and most importantly, did you steal my CD? I had the album one summer when I went to camp. I no longer have it. You don’t strike me as a thief or anything. I don’t think you would do this. Then I see how much you like this album and I think, “Gee, maybe he could’ve stolen my CD!”. Did you Josh? Did you steal my Crash Test Dummies CD? Cause, once, there was this man, who, got into an accident…

  2. Rose on April 23rd, 2007 4:00 pm

    Thank you! I read this and I remembered that I was going to go onto ruckus and download that album. If you hadn’t written this, I may have never remembered.

  3. Steve on April 23rd, 2007 4:33 pm — changing lives.

  4. Josh J on April 23rd, 2007 6:49 pm

    Aaron, first off, you stole my 1997 staff shirt (the one with the pocket on the front and the giant CW on the back). Secondly, I only own this album on cassette – if you can believe that – the same cassette mentioned in the article.

  5. Aarong on April 23rd, 2007 7:12 pm

    Fine. Either way, you still have white hair.

    And I didn’t take your shirt. We weren’t go counselors in 97. I was in the Woodchucks. But if you think I stole it…then I stole it and I’m sorry. But I didn’t.

    Oh, and great CD review. Seriously, I forgot how much I loved this album and why.

  6. Bweinh! Soundtrack — Keith Green : Bweinh! on April 29th, 2007 1:30 pm

    […] Every weekend, a different Bweinh!tributor will discuss a song or songwriter that inspires or interests them. Read the first four soundtrack entries here, here, here, and here. […]

Leave a comment!