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Camper Van Beethoven was originally called Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol. We shortened it after about 9 months. Nobody was listing the full name of the band anyway. There are only two or three posters that I’ve ever seen that show the full name of the band. But this was the original name of the band.
The band name was the brainchild of David McDaniel. David pictured above (in the bowling shirt) had an odd sense of humor. At the time we formed Camper Van Beethoven he was also working on this sort of stand up comedy routine that involved these carefully constructed “jokes”. they had all the rhyme and rhythm of a joke but made no sense. I only remember one. And it was intended to be delivered with a sort of generic foreign accent.
“My country, where I come from is SO SMALL! SO SMALL that when they change the tire everybody laughs”
The next joke might not have the foreign accent. There was no coherence to the character. They were like computer generated one-liners read by randomly selected people.
So Camper Van Beethoven and the Border Patrol was in the same vein. It sounded like it was supposed to make sense or be a pun. It had the rhyme and rhythm but it fell short. And it also kind of wandered off on a tangent. Still it somehow evoked the bands music.
David McDaniel was also the spiritual leader of the band. Literally. He was just beginning his studies to become a Pastor. I’m not quite sure what denomination. Just that it was somehow in the Charismatic branch of American Christianity. Charismatic? Best explained by one of my friend’s very Mexican American Catholic mother:
“I think they are snakehandlers”.
If you are uncomfortable with Mrs Gonzales’ definition, how ’bout the one from wikipedia:
The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. Foundational to the movement is the belief that Christians may be “filled with” or “baptized in” the Holy Spirit as a second experience subsequent to salvation and that it will be evidenced by manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Among Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.
For you Europeans who are unfamiliar with pentecostals, they are known for celebrating baptism in the holy spirit. This can include speaking in tongues, ecstatic dancing and yes, Mrs Gonzales, snakehandling.
Some of you might be surprised that a devoutly religious young man was one of the founding members of Camper Van Beethoven. Or perhaps it makes sense. I mean California was home to people like Lonnie Frisbee and the whole Jesus Freaks movement. In the 70′s a lot of these Charismatics came out of the counter-culture movement. So David wasn’t really a Jesus Freak. No, he had to much new wave post punk awareness. A Jesus Punk?
Lonnie Frisbee in a Camper Van Beethoven promotional Tunic.
It’s nothing we really thought about very much. Except maybe once. As Victor Krummenacher, Chris Molla and myself pulled up stakes and decided to move Camper Van Beethoven from Redlands (in the Inland Empire) to Santa Cruz we asked David if he was gonna come along with us. He really looked at us like we were crazy. No he was gonna become a pastor. And that is indeed what he did.
David was only in the band for three or four months but he left his mark on the band. He co-wrote and sang The Day Lassie Went To The Moon. The early rehearsal tape I posted here last summer in #23 has a version of Lassie with David McDaniel singing.
The lyrics to this song very much set the tone for most of the early Camper Van Beethoven albums. Light and happy but somehow deeply warped. Like a subversive children’s song. We repeatedly re-used this voice.
Final note on Lassie. The chorus chord progression must have been unconsciously lifted from Wall of Voodoo’s version of Ring of Fire. (we listened to a lot of Wall of Voodoo ). The riff begins at 3:13
The Day That Lassie Went to the moon. . E A D A e|| -----------------|---2------------- || B|| ---0-------2-----|-----3-----2----- || G||.-----1-------2---|-------2-----2---.|| D||.-------2-------2-|-0-------------2-.|| A|| ---------0-------|---------0------- || E|| -0---------------|----------------- ||
[INTRO & BREAK (see tab)]
[E] My little [A] dog [D] ran away the [A] other day [E] (yeah ye-[A]-eah yeah yeah, [D] yeah ye-[A]-eah yeah yeah)
My little dog Lassie packed her bags and went out onto the porch
REPEAT CHORUS x3