Also sometimes cumbersomely titled "I'd Rather Have a Bottle In Front of Me (Then Have To Have A Frontal Lobotomy)," the song Frontal Lobotomy
was featured on the Doctor Demento
Show on May 28th, 1989
, during a special presentation of alcohol
related novelty music
. It's also played on Dr. D's program many times before and since, including October 9th, 1983
, October 24th, 1993
, March 27th, 1998
, and Novemver 3rd, 1991
. It was also a prominent addition to Doctor Demento's 30th Anniversary Collection audio product
. It was recorded by "Dr. Rock
" who was, and so far as I can tell from sketchy information on the Web still IS, actually Randy Hanzlick, M.D. and this song is the only known novelty hit
that he had. Doctor Randy Hanzlick is an Atlanta, Georgia
physician, whose expertise is in forensic medicine
. He's often called in to court proceedings as a witness, to testify and explain evidence to the jury. I shit you not
. This modern day Quincy
used to write crazy songs. Unlike Dr. D, Dr. Rock is an actual doctor.
As Dr. Rock explains it, his inspiration for the song was graffitti
on a public restroom
stall in a VA hospital
. The actual quote from the graffitti was "I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy."
He played around with the phrase in his head until he came up with this song. The quote is often attributed to Tom Waits
incorrectly, because Waits took it from Hanzlick who took it from writing on the wall
The song itself is, like all the greatest of novelty song
s, brilliant. I am sure the people of the greater state of Georgia
are thankful that Dr. Rock chose to focus in his medical profession
as opposed to launching into a career as a country rock star
like Garth Brooks
, however the world was robbed of a potentially masterful talent at song and silly. Frontal Lobotomy is light and airy with a side order of sarcasm
. It has a disinctive country western
foundation with guitars
. Certainly falling into the classification of one hit wonder
, at least the world has been blessed with this one golden nugget from a man who spends more time tinkering in the insides of dead bodies than most of us would like to imagine. The song begins with a child's voice asking his father:
"Daddy, what's a frontal lobotomy?"
This sets the stage for we listeners. This song is intended, at least tongue in cheek
, to be an explanation about a form of brain surgery, just in case your child asks you this question someday. Had the kid asked "Why is there air?" you would need to report to Bill Cosby
because he tackled that one a long time ago. Then we hear Hanzlick's own voice talking to his alleged son. This is radio
, folks. For all we know the voice of the kid was dubbed in by Hanzlick himself doing baby talk
. The first portion of the song is therefore not sung, but spoken.
"Well son, you know how the pressures in life can cause people to do crazy things. And if a person does too many crazy things, then that person is crazy. Sometimes you can do things to keep from going crazy, like drinkin', or havin' sex, but if the craziness goes too far, sometimes the only thing left to do is to cut out that part of the brain that makes you crazy. That kind of brain surgery is called a frontal lobotomy. Maybe this song
will help you understand what i mean."
At this point the song launches in and assaults the ears; a pleasant but jarring effect. From here on out, one of Atlanta Georgia's prominent forensic pathologist
s begins to sing. This is the first verse; which is not to confused with the universe
as that's completely different.
Jimmy and I are brothers,
We went down different paths.
Jimmy always listened to our mother,
And me I never liked to take a bath.
As we grew and tumbled through adulthood,
The pressure caused emotional drain.
And now I'm slowly dying in the bottle,
And Jimmy has to live with half a brain!
The following portion is known as the chorus
to this song, and is repeated throughout the rest of the musical piece. In the recording to which I am familiar, the chorus literally has a chorus of what sounds like young children, who sing along with Dr. Rock but only in the choruses. This gives the song a very family-oriented kind of feel. As if Dr. Rock were sitting around a campfire with a bunch of boy scouts.
Yes, me I have a bottle in front of me,
And Jimmy has a frontal lobotomy,
Just different ways to kill the pain the same.
But I'd rather have a bottle in front of me,
Than have to have a frontal lobotomy,
I might be drunk but at least i'm not insane.
We return now to Dr. Rock singing on his own during the second verse, with the kids in the background stubbornly silent. This is contrary to reality
when children will refuse to shut up
around a microphone
, unless you promise them large amounts of candy.
Jimmy let his troubles drive him crazy,
He never tried to drown them in a drink.
I know that drinkin' makes my thinkin' hazy,
But at least i still have brains enough to think.
Jimmy's got a brain that isn't stable,
He doesn't have the sense to say his name.
I'm sorry that his doctor was unable
To remove the proper portion of his brain!
The chorus returns once again, with a full choir of adorably snotty children in attendance. I would repeat the chorus here but I am lazy
. Feel free to glance up where I left the chorus the first time and read quietly to yourself. Mouthing the words to yourself is optional
, but please don't sing unless you're alone, as someone might begin to question whether or not you need a lobotomy... Oh, this next bit is what's called The Bridge
. The bridge is characterized as being between repetitions of the chorus, but not sounding like previous verses. In baseball
, this is called a change up
. Why? I have no idea
, because that portion of my brain has been fermented
Funny how the world works.
People can be real jerks.
Some prefer the tension over booze.
Either way it end the same.
Hard to beat the livin' game.
Might as well enjoy it while you lose.
And not bad advice for the proverbial Gil Grissom
of CSI: Atlanta
, although not very optimistic either. It should be pointed out that this song does technically advocate to young children the use of alcohol, but only in comparison to sticking the long pointy end of power tools up one's nose. Whether this is good or bad advice for young people may be discussed by the parents
in our audience, preferably in the next room with large amounts of alcohol and heavy power tools. We're now into verse three, which is not to be confused with veracity
. That's a completely different thing.
When I need a drink I start to shiver,
And Jimmy always viewed it with concern
But i'd rather have cirrhosis of the liver
Than an intellect thats second to a fern.
I wonder if old Jimmy's gonna hear it
When I tell him that his logic wasn't sound.
They'll dose him up on lots of evil sprits
When they take him to the psychiatric grounds.
And now the chorus launches in with full effect, as if the parents finally acquiesce
d and gave the kids way too much sugar
. Then Dr. Rock repeats the refraining line of the chorus:
I might be drunk but at least i'm not insaaaaaaaaaneee!
The music winds down and we can call it a day. Just remember that if you ever die of an accident or if you're ever murdered in Georgia, there is an off chance that your dead body will be autopsied either by Dr. Rock himself, a colleague who may have played racketball with him, or someone who learned under his tutelage. Not living anywhere near Georgia myself, somehow that knowledge brings me little comfort.