Disc Doodles: God Shuffled His Feet
One night, during college, I went with some friends to a bar where a local musician was doing covers on his acoustic guitar. He had pieces of paper distributed around the bar with a list of songs he knew. People could pick out a song, write it down and put it in a fishbowl on a small table near where he was performing, along with a tip. Most of the songs were what you might expect from an acoustic cover set in College Station, Texas: The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pat Green, Garth Brooks, you get the idea. Inexplicably, near the bottom of the musician’s list, were two Crash Test Dummies songs. One was MMM MMM MMM MMM and the other was GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET. I wasn’t too surprised to see the first song - MMM MMM MMM MMM remains a pretty popular staple of ‘90s nostalgia, perhaps fueled by Weird Al Yankovich’s memorable parody of it. But GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET? That was a Crash Test Dummies deep cut. Intrigued by the possibility of hearing the song performed live - when was the next time that chance would come circa 2005 in Texas - I wrote GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET onto a piece of paper and inserted it, along with a $5 bill, into the musician’s fishbowl. I sat through an ironic cover of BABY GOT BACK and an unironic cover of Coldplay’s CLOCKS in eager excitement. I bet nobody in that bar had even heard of the song GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET, let alone heard it. This was going to blow their minds. Soon the musician got to my song. He picked out the note, looked at it, chuckled to himself and then announced, “This next one’s by the Crash Test Dummies.” The response was a bit of scattered applause from the back of the bar but mostly silence. I sat up on the edge of my barstool, giddy with anticipation. And then the musician started into MMM MMM MMM MMM and the bar all began to sing/hum along. While the rest of the bar seemed to enjoy the blast of ‘90s nostalgia, I was pissed. I considered going up there and demanding my $5 back. Instead I decided to call it a night and go home, anger lines practically emanating off me like a cartoon character as I walked back to my apartment. Don’t get me wrong, MMM MMM MMM MMM is a fine song but I resent it - mostly because it’s the only damn song that people seem to remember the Crash Test Dummies for. While I had heard the song on the radio when it first charted in the early ‘90s, it wasn’t until the early ‘00s that I first listened to the entirety of the band’s sophomore album, also titled GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET. My oldest sister had allowed me the unique opportunity to raid her CD collection and burn copies of whatever she had and I took full advantage, filling an entire CD binder with ripped copies everything I could get my hands on. At that point in my youth, I was really into bands such as The Offspring, Sublime and Powerman 5000 so it was very odd that a Canadian band that is essentially the Ren Fest version of They Might Be Giants would catch my attention like it did. In retrospect, GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET would be a gateway drug into my current taste in music - slightly nerdy folksy alt-rock bands that aren’t afraid of extended instrumental bridges or piano solos. I loved everything about this album - from the strange mixture of instruments like guitars, accordions, harmonicas and mandolins to the lyrics, which mostly dealt with singer Brad Roberts pondering the hypotheticals of life. Through songs like SWIMMING IN YOUR OCEAN, HOW DOES A DUCK KNOW? and THE PSYCHIC, Roberts wonders about important stuff like why God allows tornadoes and earthquakes to happen, how ducks can tell their lovers from other ducks and whether or not fortune tellers can see back to the days of the dinosaurs. I was always obsessed with these types of unknowable, hypothetical questions as a kid. I would drive my teachers crazy with inane questions about stuff they couldn’t possibly know. I remember once asking my confirmation teacher in religious class what would happen if my wife died and I remarried. Would I have two wives waiting for me in heaven? She told me I wasn’t going to heaven so I didn’t need to worry about that. I still frequently get lost in my thoughts. A recent relationship ended because I was told I had moved too fast and was further invested emotionally in the relationship than my partner was at that early stage of us dating. She told me that I stared at her while laying in bed at night and she didn’t like how I was seemingly planning out the rest of our lives together. When she initially told me of her concerns, in the moment, I thought her thinking that’s what I was daydreaming about sounded more romantic than me telling her I was actually wondering if UFOs might be intra-dimensional visitors from another plane of reality, like fairies, and whether or not sleep paralysis’ shadowmen were a part of this hypothetical mythology. I should have gone with the UFOs.