Album: Tenacious D
. . .
While he’d been in a few films I’d seen, I’m pretty sure the first time I noticed Jack Black was in the Mr. Show With Bob And David sketch “Jeepers Creepers – Semi Star,” a skit that hit all of my buttons by crossing Life of Brian with Jesus Christ Superstar, and was all the more better for making absolutely no fucking sense at all.
So naturally, I watched the Tenacious D shorts, which were basically part of the MSWBAD Extended Universe, given the Bob Odenkirk and David Cross were involved, and at that point, I would follow those guys just about anywhere. Well, maybe not to Run Ronnie Run, but just about anywhere else.
But in the year 2000, Jack Black became a star on the back of Heat Vision and Jack, the Dan Harmon-written, Ben Stiller-directed TV series where Black played an astronaut and Owen Wilson played his talking motorcycle which was a smash hit for FOX, rivaling only The Simpsons in popu–whoops, I’m sorry, I’m being told that was in an alternate universe.
In this universe, Jack Black became a star after his turn in High Fidelity, a film that I loved at the time but am now worried hasn’t aged well. (Though I did really like the unjustly canceled Netflix remake w/ Zoe Kravitz.)
And so Tenacious D — basically Jack Black and Kyle Gass on acoustic guitars and vocals — got a major label deal with the Dust Brothers producing. And while I thought the album was — like the shorts, pretty hit or miss — I loved songs like “Wonderboy,” a twisted origin story and “Dio,” a massive tribute to the diminutive, and of course “Tribute,” which was also a highlight of the shorts, and which starts off with the humble “This is the greatest and best song in the world… …tribute”
In the story of the song, Black and Gass are walking down a lonesome road where they are challenged by a shiny demon to play the best song in the world or the demon would eat their souls. As was the fashion of the times.
Well, me and Kyle, we looked at each other
And we each said, “Okay”
And we played the first thing that came to our heads, just so happened to be
The best song in the world, it was the best song in the world
Now, in the original “Tribute” short, that song was explicitly “Stairway to Heaven,,” with Kyle Gass even playing the opening lick just to make sure you know.
Outside of stealing some chord progressions, the album version was not nearly as explicit in invoking “Stairway” — perhaps Epic didn’t want to shell out Zeppelin money — and of course there were other differences. For example, in the original short, Scott Adsit played the demon, but in the “Tribute” video, the demon is played by Dave Grohl. As are the drums. Either way, the demon was dispatched by the invocation of the almighty “Stairway to Heaven,” though honestly my guess is that “When The Levee Breaks” or “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” would have also been acceptable.
Needless to say, the beast was stunned
A whip-crack went his whippy tail and the beast was done
He asked us *snort* “Be you angels?”
And we said, “Nay, we are but men!”
Jack Black’s “ROCK” and the vocalizations that follow never fail to crack me up, as the the circular logic of the chorus.
This is not the greatest song in the world, no
This is just a tribute
Couldn’t remember the greatest song in the world, no
No, this is a tribute, oh
To the greatest song in the world, alright
It was the greatest song in the world, alright
Yeah, it was the best motherfucking song
The greatest song in the world
After that, “Tribute” gets epically silly, featuring KG & JB doing a dueling scat breakdown followed by an over the top guitar solo from Warren Fitzgerald as Black admits again that “Tribute” doesn’t sound anything like the best song in the world, even if he can’t exactly remember how the best song in the world went.
Which means that it’s possible that “Tribute” does sound like the greatest song in the world, even though it clearly isn’t the greatest song in the world. But it’s great enough.
“Tribute” Official Music Video
“Tribute” Original Version
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