Jello Biafra on The Oprah Winfrey Show + Dead Kennedys Bay Area Music Awards incident + x DK free CDs
This is a transcript of the segment of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" where Jello goes head-to-head with Tipper Gore. Also there is video of that Oprah show ..... GUESTS: JELLO BIAFRA, TIPPER GORE, RABBI ABRAHAM COOPER, JUAN WILLIAMS. ICE-T, NELSON GEORGE
THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (3/7/90)
ABBREVIATIONS: JB-Jello Biafra OW-Oprah Winfrey TG-Tipper Gore
OW:...Jello Biafra was taken to court a couple of years ago, uh, for the album "Frankenchrist" by the Dead Kennedys.
In my case, I can relate to NWA's song about the police, because after my record, "Frankenchrist" was blasted by Susan Baker and the PMRC in "Variety", two weeks later, nine police officers, three from LA, six from San Francisco, broke a window by my front door, stormed into my house, tore the place apart, like you'd see KGB people do in a TV movie or something, went through my address book, page by page, comparing names, while I sat there on a chair with a bathrobe on with two cops with their jackets zipped right up to about here, so they might be packing a gun, circling around me like sharks. It was a subtle form of rape, in a way.
And then, after a year...about...what was it? Two months later, charges were filed against my record. A year and a half later, it finally came to trial. Three weeks, sitting in a courtroom in Los Angeles, watching lawyers argue over not just the supposedly explicit insert by an academy-award winning artist from Switzerland, my lyrics were put on trial. A huge blowup was brought in, and was gone over by experts, line by line.
In the end, the jury did not agree with the allegations of the PMRC. They deadlocked 7-5 in favor of acquittal. But after the trial, in a paper called the "Metro" in Nashville, Tennessee, Tipper Gore was asked about my trial, and said, quote, "I'd like to take credit for it".
(to Gore) I accuse you of trying to destroy my career and ruin my right to make a living. (audience cheers)TG:
If a kid shoplifts or becomes involved in a gang, then, well, it must be the music's fault.TG:
It is.OW (over applause):
Tipper, Tipper, let's just...TG:
Thank you. First of all, that's a very bizarre rendition of what my group is about. We are not right-wing fundamentalists. I happen to be a liberal democrat. We have two...
Excuse me, I--I--....OW:
Okay, one at a time.TG:
Excuse me...it's simply not true. I happen to be a liberal democrat, I work with republicans and democrats on this issue. We have one coalition with the National PTA, who advanced the idea of record labeling so parents would be alerted when there was graphic material.OW:
I'd love to help, because I don't know if that helps or hurts, because I think kids, when they see the label, they want it even more.TG:
Let me say this...
Oprah...Oprah, he's leveled a lot of charges. We're also supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, why? Why are parents and teachers and doctors concerned about graphic lyrics and young children? There's a reason for it and a way to deal with that...with respect for freedom. We had nothing to do with the problems that you had. We want to educate...TG:
We want to educate...that was not an accurate quote!TG
(over applause) Have you ever been misquoted by somebody?TG:
I am not lying!TG:
Excuse me! This is not...OW:
But it doesn't mean she said it.TG:
It's true, thank you!OW:
Believe me, because it's written doesn't mean she said it.TG:
That's right. You can be...I've been misquoted, I'm sure you've been misquoted too, but that is not the real issue here.
Bay Area Music Awards DK incident
Pull My Strings was a song by the Dead Kennedys, written by DK lead singer Jello Biafra and drummer Ted specifically for the 1980 Bay Area Music Awards. The song would not find its way onto a record until 1987's Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.
The song, recorded live at the awards show, begins with the band playing the opening chords to "California Über Alles", one of their more famous songs. After the first few bars, Biafra yells out "Hold it!" and sarcastically tells the audience that they're becoming a New Wave band because they "need to prove [they're] adults now". Klaus Flouride begins to play another bass line, and a new song begins.
Biafra begins singing about him not being able to afford a car thanks to his self respect, and decides to sell out to the record companies to make some money ("I'm tired of self respect, I can't afford a car, I wanna be a pre-fab superstar"). He decides to become one of the cookie cutter new wave acts breaking into pop music at the time. The chorus implies that the musicians in the new wave bands need to be dumb and have a large penis, and are able to be pulled by strings like a puppet because they've sold their souls to the record labels, who basically can now mold them in whatever they (the labels) want them to be.
One of the targets of the Dead Kennedys in the song appears to be The Knack, who hit big around that same time with "My Sharona". Twice in the course of the song, in its middle and at its end, a bridge is played to the tune of "My Sharona", with Biafra singing the word "drool" to the tune of it and replacing "My Sharona" with "my payola". Biafra also makes a sarcastic reference to the hypocrisy and drug abuse of the American bourgeoisie, referencing famous comedian Bob Hope with the line "And when I'm rich and meet Bob Hope, we'll shoot some golf and shoot some dope".
The song was written because the band was invited to play at the 1980 Bay Area Music Awards (or Bammies), to play their hit "California Über Alles". However, they instead wrote this song solely for the show, and were never invited back. Also, this was the only time they ever played the song, despite its popularity.
During their performance, the Dead Kennedys wore white shirts with the letter S painted on the front. On the recording of the song, once "Pull My Strings" begins the audience can be heard cheering in response to the band members pulling their black neckties from behind their backs in front of them, making a dollar sign.
Pull My Strings
I'm tired of self respect
I can't afford a car
I wanna be a prefab superstar
I wanna be a tool
Don't need no soul
Wanna make big money
Playing rock and roll
I'll make my music boring
I'll play my music slow
I ain't no artist, I'm a business man
No ideas of my own
I won't offend
Or rock the boat
Just sex and drugs
And rock and roll
Drool, drool, drool, drool, drool, drool
Drool, drool, drool, drool, drool, drool
You'll pay ten bucks to see me
On a fifteen foot high stage
Fatass bouncers kick the shit
Out of kids who try to dance
If my friends say
I've lost my guts
I'll laugh and say
That's rock and roll
But there's just one problem
Is my cock big enough
Is my brain small enough
For you to make me a star
Give me a toot, I'll sell you my soul
Pull my strings and I'll go far
And when I'm rich
And meet Bob Hope
We'll shoot some golf
And shoot some dope
Is my cock big enough?
Is my brain small enough?
[Repeat chorus, etc. etc.]
1980 - FRESH FRUIT FOR ROTTING VEGETABLES
1982 - IN GOD WE TRUST, INC [EP]
1982 - PLASTIC SURGERY DISASTERS
1982 - A SKATEBOARD PARTY (en vivo)
1984 - Never_been_on_MTV (CD_Bootleg)
1985 - FRANKENCHRIST
1986 - BEDTIME FOR DEMOCRACY!
1987 - GIVE ME CONVENIENCE OR GIVE ME DEATH
2001 - MUTINY ON THE BAY
2004 - LIVE AT THE DEAF CLUB
2007 - MILKING THE SACRED COW