We were at the beach
Everybody had matching towels
Somebody went under a dock
And there they saw a rock
It wasn't a rock
It was a Rock Lobster!

"Rock Lobster" is the first hit -- maybe the greatest hit -- by The B-52s, and the best surf rock song ever written about crustaceans. 

It was written by band members Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson, recorded by the band in February 1978, and released into the wild in April 1978 by DB Records. The better-known version of the song, however, wasn't released until July 1979 with the B-52s self-titled debut album. Schneider provided lead vocals and cowbell, while Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson provided backing vocals. Pierson also played synth bass and organ, and Wilson played tambourine. Ricky Wilson played guitar, and Keith Strickland played drums and percussion. The song hit #56 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it went all the way to Number 1 in Canada

Schneider has said the song's inspiration came from a dance club in Atlanta called 2001 which featured slide shows of animals, including lobsters on a grill, instead of the usual light show. And Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson took inspiration from Yoko Ono's singing style when they came up with the weird animal noises they made during the song. In fact, when John Lennon heard the song, he recognized Ono's style and decided to end his five-year musical hiatus -- the result was "Double Fantasy," the 1980 album by John and Yoko. 


So what's it like to see this for the first time on MTV or to hear it at your first junior high dance? It's no great surprise to say that it's weird, right? You got Fred Schneider -- a guy who looks more like a grocery store manager than a rock star -- and his stentorian Criswell-esque performance. You got Kate and Cindy with their mad bouffant hairdos, switching from sweet two-part harmonies to deranged squeaking and howling. You got that chugging surf guitar and retro organ dragging everyone out onto the dance floor. What are the right moves? Do you twist? Pogo? You definitely don't do the dull step, clap, step, clap -- you couldn't dance that way right now even if you wanted to. But when Fred orders you "DOWN!" -- you and everyone else on the floor follow that command. 

And when the song's over, the floor clears out every time. Ain't no way to follow that song up, Mr. DJ. 

Here comes a stingray
There goes a manta ray
In walked a jellyfish
There goes a dogfish
Chased by a catfish
In flew a sea robin
Watch out for that piranha
There goes a narwhal
Here comes a bikini whale!

For reQuest 2020
("Jet-Poop, you're always writing about comics. Review a song or album instead.")