the Champ': The Mountain Goats offer a musical tribute
to the squared circle
- 30th April 2015
Roddy Piper isnt an obvious choice for a musicians
muse. For John Darnielle, the acclaimed lead singer
of The Mountain Goats and a 2014 National Book Award
nominee, wondering "Why not Piper?" is exactly
the kind of question he asks when deciding what it
will take to perform another great rock show.
mean, the one thing is, I fully inhabit the song,
completely buying into it." Darnielle said. "To
get this, Roddy Piper's the guy. So, you watch old
Piper stuff and you learn how to be present for your
work. [You have to be] 100 percent there; no point
in showing up if you're not 100 percent there."
you see, is an avid supporter of sports-entertainment,
and his band now preaches the gospel of grappling
across 13 fight-infused tracks on their new LP, "Beat
a recent performance at City Winery in New York City,
Darnielle sat down with WWE.com to discuss The Mountain
Goats new album, his memories of his favorite
Superstars competing at Hollywoods Olympic Auditorium
and his unabashed love of wrestling.
origin of "Beat the Champ"
no shortage of writing prompts that can emerge from
what happens in a wrestling ring. Darnielle keeps
many of those ideas in a notebook, but it was one
specific note involving WWE
Hall of Famer Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
that provided a prototype for the bakers dozen
of tracks appearing on "Beat the Champ."
to play a solo performance in San Francisco, Darnielle
revisited a song title he had conjured up about "The
Hammer" and promptly jotted down some lyrics.
He elected to improvise the tune that night, hoping
the crowd would remain sympathetic for an experimenting
singer up on the stage. Needless to say, the audience
ate the new number up, savoring a song that the Mountain
Goats lead singer dedicated to Valentines ruthless
was about, because this was Greg Valentine's thing,
'I want to break people's legs. I don't care if I
win,'" Darnielle said. "And I was like:
Wow, that's ... that's pure evil, right? He just wants
to break people's legs with that Figure Four Leglock.
so, I wrote that song and I really liked inhabiting
a wrestling character, taking it at face value. With
characters, it was really interesting and exciting
for me to be able to sort of harness that. So then,
I was ad-libbing a melody a couple of years ago, and
I sang the opening lines to Southwestern Territory
and got the idea. I think I'd had that title, and
I just kept writing the songs."
PAGE: Remembering the Olympic Auditorium and Andre
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