Miscellaneous Playlists

Reel-to-Reel Presents: Hello, I’m…Johnny Knoxville?

How can you immediately spot someone who’s jumped a dirt bike off a homemade ramp? Play the Minutemen’s “Corona” in a crowd. 

Fronted by Johnny Knoxville and supported by a motley crew of Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Dave England, Preston Lacey, Ehren McGhehey, and formerly Bam Margera, among others, “Jackass” started with humble DIY roots on MTV and blossomed into a seven-film franchise, give or take a few. 

In The Beginning, There Were Dudes

As most things do, it started with a bunch of guys in a room, racking their brains for ideas. And so, staff writer Knoxville and editor Jeff Tremaine sought something to spice up the alternative skate magazine “Big Brother.”

What never fails to entertain a teenage audience? A good dose of schadenfreude.

From Tasers to vert ramps, Knoxville broke, bumped, burned and bruised his way to something of a poor man’s Evel Knievel. Soon, the “Big Brother” staff realized they had lighting in a bottle as unsuspecting audiences first heard the now infamous, “Hello, I’m Johnny Knoxville …”

With a cast made up of friends, writers and skaters ripped from “Big Brother,” “Jackass” began to air on MTV. The show would run for three seasons, from 2000 to 2001.

Music To Break Bones To

Now, with obligatory background out of the way, beyond varyingly successful stunts, what made “Jackass” so cool was the music soundtracking it.

Musically, the show and the films ran the genre gamut. And they ran hard, using everything from country to punk to score their mess of brain, bone, and testicular injuries presented for our entertainment.

Is it reductive to boil a cast down to any one singular member? Yes, but for most people, Knoxville defines “Jackass”

In the words of hip kids, the ring leader cut a decidedly “y’allternative” figure, blending his Tennessee roots with a decidedly Californian musical sensibility ranging from punk to surf.

To truly capture his essence, he must be seen to be believed: a lanky man in a nearly too-tight “Boy Named Sue” T-shirt cackling with glee from behind oversized aviator sunglasses as his friends are shocked and knocked around the screen.

With that in mind, Reel-to-Reel presents a crash course in “Jackass” with country, punk, surf, and everything in between, songs perfect for cracking a friend upside the head.

Bodhi’s Best

You heard it on air, and now you’ve got it in print: my favorite spins that deserve a second shout-out.

Corona” – Minutemen

You cannot talk about “Jackass” and not touch on “Corona.” Routinely listed across multiple publications from Rolling Stone to Revolver as one of the best albums of the 1980s, “Double Nickels on the Dime” cemented the band’s legacy as a foundation of American hardcore.

While written as a protest song with sympathies to Mexico, the driving riff with polka and Norteño flair became most recognizable as the “Jackass” theme used across the MTV show and subsequent movies.

Now serving as a rallying cry for ne’er-do-wells everywhere, the simple twangy opening chords opened the door for many broken bones and concussions.

“Corona” by the Minutemen from YouTube

Rock The Casbah (Ranking Roger)” – The Clash ft. Ranking Roger

Moving across the pond, the Clash never shied away from the reggae and ska influences on their brand of punk, but the inclusion of Ranking Roger brings the two-tone elements to the forefront of the mix.

Roger, known predominantly for his work with The Beat, General Public and later Big Audio Dynamite, brought a decidedly dance-hall sensibility to his recording with high energy, bouncing vocals across the established chorus and Joe Strummer’s ad-libs.

I love the Clash; however, I can’t help but feel that this might be how “Rock the Casbah” was always supposed to sound—sue me.

The Clash Official Audio for “Rock the Casbah” ft. Ranking Roger from YouTube

“Boy Named Sue”- Johnny Cash

Written and recorded by Shel Silverstein in 1969, “Sue” found his true voice through Johnny Cash.

“Johnny Cash at San Quentin” was a monumental album for reasons that could fill a post all their own, but none more near and dear to my heart than this song played and recorded by Cash for the first time in one fell swoop before the prison yard audience.

The story goes like this: Cash threw a party with all his musical friends the night before, and Silverstein just happened to be there through his songwriting connections.

At some point during the night, a guitar gets passed around with the directive that everyone play something they’re working on.

The guitar went around and got to Silverstein, who played a roughneck version of “A Boy Named Sue.” Cash instantly fell in love with the song and asked him to write the lyrics down. The next day, June Carter Cash prodded Cash into taking the lyric sheet to San Quentin and working it into the set.

The result is a charming, offbeat, earnest performance that captures the enjoyment of the crowd and the performer. Sounds familiar to the “Jackass” allure, no?

Johnny Cash performing “A Boy Named Sue” Live at San Quentin, 1969 from YouTube

“California Sun” – Los Straitjackets ft. Dave Alvin

If there’s a surf rock God, let Los Straitjackets be his vessel.

Somehow managing to walk the line between surf rock standards and a punk bite, I routinely circle back to the masked band as one of the most refreshing acts in the genre. Timeless enough to hit that nostalgic note while unafraid to branch out beyond the expected formula.

Joe Jones recorded “California Sun” first for Roulette Records in 1960, but The Rivieras released the most commercially successful and recognizable version three years later.

Recorded by acts ranging from The Crickets to the Ramones, “California Sun” is something of a rockabilly/punk staple, bridging the gap between board shorts and combat boots.

Founded in 1988 in Nashville, Los Straitjackets managed to blend rockabilly sensibilities with surf swing, riding the wave of the Tarantino-influenced revival following the release of Pulp Fiction.

Their version was released in 2001 in collaboration with Dave Alvin of The Blasters and X. It combined their surf-inspired instrumentation with Alvin’s roots rock vocal stylings.

Admittedly, within the “Jackass” musical canon, surf rock was a lesser genre; something about this track just screams Johnny Knoxville to me.

“California Sun” as recorded by Los Straitjackets and Dave Alvin from YouTube
Be cool, Stay in School – Bodhi

By Bodhi

Human Dewey Decimal System for all things music and movies, purveyor of useless knowledge.